Community Sense of Place Initiative
Tourism Impacts and Second Home Development: A Sustainable Approach
In an effort to better understand how communities are effected by tourism development, the Center has conducted research in a number of North Carolina counties. These studies increase understanding of the perceptions of resident property owners and second home owners regarding the impacts of tourism development on land use, the economy, service provision, cultural opportunities, infrastructure, the environment, and the contribution of such actions, to the future success of the county's tourism economy, on the effects of climate and weather on property decisions and recreational pursuits, and on the impacts and benefits of tourism, as well as future support for additional tourism. All of this is intended to provide information for stakeholders in their efforts to maintain their community sense of place through thoughtful discussion and planning.
North Carolina Sea Grant Research Project: Tourism Impacts and Second Home Development in Coastal Communities: A Sustainable Approach
Summary Report: Brunswick, Currituck and Pender, NC Counties: Study Report | Data Slides
Brunswick County Tourism Study: Study Report | Data Slides
Currituck County Tourism Study: Study Report | Data Slides
Pender County Tourism Study: Study Report | Data Slides | Pender TDA Presentation
Previous Related Studies funded by the Division of Research & Graduate Studies:
Dare County Tourism Study: Study Report | Data Slides
Macon County Tourism Study: Study Report | Data Slides
(2012). Venturoni Surveys & Research, Inc., Linda Venturoni, President.
(2012). Covi, M., Hao, H., Long, P.
(2012) Center Staff and Students
Sense of Place
Sense of place is a cross-disciplinary concept that recognizes the many ways in which places take on special meaning to people. Sustainable tourism development places great emphasis on identifying, analyzing, and enhancing the characteristics and processes that give destinations a unique character. Such character can serve as the foundation for both an improved resident assessment of quality of living as well as an enhanced economy by attracting visitors and their expenditures. Factors that impact and contribute to a distinctive sense of place are varied. Here are a few examples:
- Migration, demographics, and class dynamics;
- Transportation, housing, and workforce issues;
- Community political relations and civic culture;
- Ecosystems, climate, natural resources, and environmental planning;
- Heritage, traditions, and histories;
- Architectural design and landscape aesthetics;
- Recreational and leisure opportunities;
- Public health, recreation, and wellness;
- Fine/performing arts and place-defining literature and music;
- Marketing and promotional strategies;
- Business and entrepreneurial development; and
- Smart growth.
Communities with a distinctive sense of place often enjoy greater quality of living and attract more visitors. However, the impacts of tourism in amenity-rich destinations often dominate decisions regarding the community’s economy, environment, and culture. At the forefront of such a tourism-oriented economic structure are issues related to land use, real estate prices, cost of living, transportation, business diversification, workforce availability, water quality, and the environment. The Center is engaged in various activities that address these issues:
ECU Campus Symposia
The Center sponsors various university-wide symposia that explore the many dimensions of sense of place and the challenges and opportunities of sustaining sense of place in a tourist economy. The forums recognize the achievements of ECU and other University of North Carolina (UNC) system faculty in bringing previously separate voices together into a joint, interdisciplinary dialogue.
In partnership with local communities, tourism agencies, and economic development regions, the Center sponsors community forums on issues specific to local needs and interests:
- Brian Mullis, President of Sustainable Travel International, spoke to the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce;
- Dr. Martha Honey, Director of the Center for Responsible Tourism (Washington Office), spoke to the Tyrell County Tourism Development Authority and Chamber of Commerce
- Bernard Lane, Editor of the Journal of Sustainable Tourism, conducted workshops for the NE Commission tourism group in Edenton and for the Tryon Palace staff and area tourism leaders of New Bern and Carteret County
Economic Development Assistance
The Bureau of Business Research; the ECU Office of Engagement, Innovation, and Economic Development; and the Center provide ongoing support to communities in their efforts to revitalize and stabilize local and regional economies. This is accomplished through community-based research, data tracking and analysis, training, information dissemination, and technical assistance.