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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life: A View of Multiple

Perceived Indicators
Author(s): David Matarrita-Cascante
Source: Social Indicators Research, Vol. 98, No. 1 (August 2010), pp. 105-127
Published by: Springer
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Accessed: 29-05-2017 17:11 UTC

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Soc Indic Res (2010) 98:105-127
DOI 10.1007/sll205-009-9520-z

Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction,

and Quality of Life: A View of Multiple Perceived

David Matarrita-Cascante

Accepted: 7 September 2009 / Published online: 25 September 2009

Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Abstract The relationship between a community's services and conditions, satisfactio

and overall quality of life were examined in this study. As these relationships respond
specific contextual and cultural settings, qualitative methods were used to account for the
complexity and depth. Key informant interviews were conducted in two rural communit
experiencing changes in their living conditions as they shifted to a tourism-driven econom
The study allowed a better understanding of how residents contextualized the abovem
tioned relationships. Findings suggest the need to account for pre-existing social arrange
ments, and current community interactional and organizational conditions to bett
understand resident's perceived living conditions, community satisfaction and quality of l

Keywords Tourism's impacts Community satisfaction Quality of life

Costa Rica

1 Introduction

Past research noted an existing positive relationship between a community's services (e.g.,
housing, shopping, transportation, healthcare) and conditions (physical, social, and eco-
nomic aspects), and community satisfaction and overall quality of life (Epley and Menon
2008; Sirgy et al. 2000, 2008; Sirgy and Cornwell 2001 ).' Such work has typically been
conducted in developed countries using quantitative approaches.

1 Community services and conditions will be understood here as living conditions. Sirgy et al. (2008) noted
how satisfaction with community services and conditions played a large role in community-well being, also
referred to as global satisfaction with one's community, and perception of community quality of life, among
others. To avoid confusion, the term community satisfaction will be used here to denote general satisfaction
with community living conditions. Sirgy et al. (2008) also noted a positive relationship existing between
community satisfaction and overall quality of life - noted here as quality of life.

D. Matarrita-Cascante (El)
Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University, 311 Francis Hall,
2261 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843, USA

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106 D. Matarrita-Cascante

Nonetheless, as these in
current contextual and
insight and depth neces
cators by unveiling int
et al. 2009).
An examination of the
and quality of life was
munities of Liberia an
changing living condit
changes after shifting f
context provided an ide
alized their living condit
highly aware of change
The study adds to the e
indicators in a developin
study, it is expected to
munity satisfaction and
cultural settings of a lo
Additionally, the study
quality of life, and tour
this literature will mov
related here to other co
life perspective, the stu
tourism context.

2 Literature Review

2.1 Tourism Impacts: Shifting Living Conditions

As one of the fastest growing industries in the world (World Tourism Organization 2008),
tourism is an important activity involving diverse sectors and destinations (Mowforth and
Munt 2003). Because of this, tourism has become an important catalyst for change known
to generate a series of impacts particularly to host communities (Frederick 1992; Coccossis
2004; Wall and Mathieson 2006). These impacts differ by locality, resulting in a
extensive literature with mixed findings (Kreag 2001). Following Mathieson and Wall
(1982), this study classifies the impacts of tourism in three broad areas: economic, social
and environmental.
Tourism's macro economic benefits include increased tax revenues, investment, and
contribution to the balance of payments (Krannich and Petrzelka 2003). At micro levels,
tourism offers opportunities for direct, indirect, and induced employment often leading to
increased per capita income (Shaw and Williams 2000; Wall and Mathieson 2006).
Tourism also encourages entrepreneurial activity while spurring economic growth (Coc-
cossis 2004; Cohen 1984; Holden 2008) often reflected in increased and/or improved
infrastructure and service delivery (Dumont et al. 2005).
Additionally, tourism has been associated with increased awareness of cultural values,
practices, and heritages (Li 2003; Prentice 2003). The interaction between locals and
visitors also promotes exchange of ideas leading to economic and social progress (Liu
2003) and interest in expanding education and knowledge (Nyaupane et al. 2006).


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 107

Tourism can also benefit the natural environment as it extends an appreciation for na
and heightens environmental knowledge for both the host residents and tourists (H
2008; Swarbrooke 1999). Further, tourism has been associated with the promotion
conservation practices (Kruger 2005; Stem et al. 2003).
Nevertheless, tourism's impacts depend, in large part, on the context and different fo
under which it is practiced (see Budowski 1976; Wall and Mathieson 2006). Of parti
interest for this study is nature-based tourism conducted in underdeveloped count
Nature-based tourism is commonly developed in rural areas (see McGranahan 199
These areas often lack economic diversity and adequate infrastructure, rely on a lim
number of industries, and contain a less educated and healthy population (Jensen 2
Lichter and Parisi 2008). Each of these characteristics limits the ability of their residen
secure jobs and/or promote investments necessary to secure quality of life outcom
Because of this, tourism's negative impacts can be severe.
Tourism-related jobs in rural areas often require low levels of job specialization, r
ularly translating into low wages (Mathieson and Wall 1982; Krannich and Petrze
2003). Such jobs tend to be seasonal, part-time, offer few if any benefits, and provide l
chance for individual advancement (Krannich and Petrzelka 2003). As well, studie
tourism in developing countries indicate the industry tends to be controlled by internat
companies (Dixon et al. 2001; Nyaupane et al. 2006). This often results in further m
ginalization of local economies and its residents as dividends and earnings leak ex
locally (Kontogeorgopoulos 1998; Telfer and Wall 2000). Further, growth resulting f
tourism often leads to inflation and increased land and housing prices which can resul
displacement of locals (Frederick 1992; Rothman 1998).
Additionally, the rapidly growing seasonal, temporal, and/or permanent populat
common to natural amenity-rich tourism destinations, alter established local institu
and social structures, affecting traditional practices (Brown et al. 1989; Matarrita-Casc
et al. 2006; Smith et al. 2001; Smith and Krannich 2000). Impacts include negative ef
on religion, arts, values and lifestyles (Swarbrooke 1999). Additionally, the presenc
outsiders has been related to increased levels of prostitution, crime, drug abuse,
alcoholism (Cohen 1982; Harrison 1994; Smith 1989).
Tourism can also have negative effects on the natural environment due to its excess
stress on carrying capacity (Coccossis 2004) and indirect effects through construct
(Pineda and Brebbia 2004). Some of the most cited consequences of tourism on the natu
environment include changes in local floral and faunal composition, pollution, ero
natural resources depletion, and visual impacts (Kreag 2001; Holden 2008; Swarbr
To a large extent, the consequences of tourism summarized here vary depending on
context. The limited resources and capacities characteristic of rural natural amenity-rich
areas and its residents (see Brown and Swanson 2003) can result in communities highly
susceptible to the impacts of tourism. These impacts are reflected in a community's living
conditions, and have implications for its resident's community satisfaction and quality of

2.2 Community Satisfaction and Quality of Life

Community satisfaction and quality of life are terms that have been used interchangeably
(see McGillivray 2007; McGillivray and Clarke 2006; Sirgy et al. 2008). While highly
associated, these terms reflect different notions. Community satisfaction implies an eval-
uative judgment of achievements and aspirations (Theodori 2000: 44). To a large extent,

i Springer

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108 D. Matarrita-Cascante

the term reflects a com

that community satisfa
reflecting personal eco
(1977) suggests that so
determining community
of a community's social
Recent studies incorpo
nity satisfaction. Filkin
satisfaction with a comm
work. According to Sir
faction with governmen
physical, economic, and
These studies suggest
function of personal, e
munity. Community sat
such needs, subsequentl
(Sirgy et al. 2000, 2008
Quality of life is a conc
is a reflection of many
well-being, util welfare,
capability expansion, po
2007; McGillivray and
ralism characterizes qua
Because of its conceptu
tidimensional concept
objective and subjectiv
include measures of em
capita, average annual in
divorce rate, life expect
(McGillivray 2006, 2007
reported satisfaction, h
and meaningfulness o
dimension measuring qu
of analysis (see Cortes
measured at the individu
Sirgy et al. 2000, 2004
While close association
misuses can and often h
more general and encom
broader condition in th
cerned with an evaluativ

2.3 Framework for Ana

To better understand h
and how these indicato
qualitative research tec
from individual to com


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 109

development face changing sources of income generation, increased costs of living,

rupted social networks, altered values and practices, and environmental degradat
Additionally, communities are faced with challenges to provide new and better serv
and related infrastructure in response to the demands of a growing visiting, season
permanent population (Howe et al. 1997). As a result, communities face new challen
and changes that have consequences on their satisfaction and quality of life.
Building on Sirgy et al. (2000, 2008), this study examines these relationships in rapid
changing rural amenity-rich context in an underdeveloped country using a qualitative
informant interview approach. This approach allows for the understanding of inte
relevant community processes that should be examined to better understand the relati
ship between the studied indicators.
Qualitative research is used when a researcher is trying to understand the 'how' and
'what', seeking for a detailed view of a topic while studying individuals in their na
setting (Creswell 1998). Qualitative research "tells the whole story with all its variat
including patterns documented in previous related research literature" (Borman et al.
53), as it is typically rich, with detail and insights into participants' experiences (Cres
1998; Flick 2005). It provides a holistic picture, allowing for an understanding of mult
dimensions of a problem, displaying it in all its complexity (Creswell 1998). This a
for conclusions to be reached after an issue's composition and constituent parts are kn

3 Methods

3.1 Site Selection and Context

Liberia and La Fortuna, Costa Rica, are two rural natural amenity-rich communities. Prior
to tourism, their economies depended highly on crop and cattle production. After transi-
tioning to a tourism-based economy - 10-15 years ago, both communities experienced
rapid population and economic growth.2 Changing living conditions provide a good sce-
nario to examine how residents contextualize quality of life and community satisfaction.
Liberia presents a history strongly defined by the latifndio. A latifndio is a large
extension of land appropriated by a wealthy and often politically connected individual or
family (Edelman 1998). Until the mid 1950s, Liberians were commonly employed in the
latifndios and in occasions lived within them (Edelman 1998). Often, Liberians did not
own the land nor served in high managerial positions within the latifndio, commonly
relegated to inferior positions. Additionally, Liberia presents land and climate conditions,
which makes its agriculture highly vulnerable. As a result, wealth has been historically
unevenly distributed in Liberia (see Estado de la Nacin 2007). Such past has repercus-
sions in the way resources are currently distributed, but more importantly, in the lifestyle
and culture of today's Liberians.
Currently, the majority of Liberians lack the economic resources, entrepreneurial
skills, and motivation to develop tourism enterprises. Further, there is little evidence of
local resident's promotion of community- wide tourism development efforts. As a result,

2 Between 1995 and 2005 Liberia and La Fortuna' s population grew by 34.7 and 70.4%, respectively.
Economic growth was reflected in improved household conditions for both districts according to census
data. From 1984 to 2000, the percentage of households in good conditions increased from 51 to 66% and
from 35 to 58% in Liberia and La Fortuna, respectively (INEC 1984, 2000).

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110 D. Matarrita-Cascante

Liberia's tourism has b

large-scaled projects al
While there is potenti
(cultural and historical
this. There is very lit
government and tourism
In contrast, La Fortuna
among its residents. La
the creation of an econo
its residents to start de
La Fortuna is smaller t
enterprise system (Dam
ecotourism activities li
(Estado de la Nacin 20
La Fortuna presents hig
are the owners of the r
la Nacin 2007; Sobrado
several development asso
extra-local entities for
de La Fortuna (ADIFOR
The community runs s
waterfall which charg
multiple community-or
Both Liberia and La For
conditions. While such c
the contextual differen
towards changing indica

3.2 Data Collection and

Data for this study w

Humphrey 1986; Mars
2008. KIs were selected
munity regardless of
researcher were asked
that fit the previous d
KIs were asked to pro
senting similar fields w
specific knowledge, ca
were included to obt

3 According to a public rel

opment firms in the area),
the investment is mixed ca
4 Liberia's population by 2
5 Damazio et al. (2007) indi
(Canton's capital located a
Additionally, 92% of these e


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 1 1 1

Sixty-seven KI interviews were conducted - 33 in Liberia and 34 in La Fortuna (see

Table 1). The mean age of Liberia's respondents was in the bracket between 31 and
40 years of age and for La Fortuna was between 41 and 50. The average length

Table 1 Positions by field and Liberia La

number of key informants inter- Fortuna
view by community

Municipality representative 1 1

University professor 2 1
High school teacher 3 1
National Learning Institute represen

Physician 1 1
Social security representative 1 1

Private businesses 1 3


Receptionist 1 1
Hotel owner 2 6

Public relations representative 1 1

Farmer/stockbreeder 2 6

Agrarian Development Institute agent 1

Extension agent 2

Law reinforcement officiai 1 1

Tribunals of justice representative 1 1

Lawyer 1 1

Housewife 2 1

Community cooperative/development 1 1

Construction 1

Banker 1 1

Priest 1 1

Photographer 1
Butcher 1

Welder 1

Sales clerk 1

Reporter 1
Retired 3

Social worker 1

Staff assistant 1


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112 D. Matarrita-Cascante

residence among Liber

35.9 years.6
The interview guide included open-ended questions about the community's past and
present characterization (including the local economy and the physical environment),
community satisfaction, concerns about the community, quality of life, future expectations,
tourism development (including the role of tourism in the economy, and the role of the
government and the community in tourism development) and impacts of tourism. While
the total interview was used to help gain a larger understanding of each community's
context, the reported findings consisted of the data obtained mainly from the questions
directly associated with this study.
Data was analyzed and interpreted following a content-analysis methodology (Babbie
2007; Rubin and Babbie 1989) using a theory-driven qualitative research approach (Denzin
and Lincoln 2000; Neuman 2003). Such an approach performs the analysis and interpretation
of data based on recurrent themes and sub-themes associated with a chosen social theory (i.e.,
quality of life indicators - see particularly Sirgy et al. 2000, 2008 - on the relationship
between a community's living conditions and resident's perceived satisfaction and quality of
life). Guided by such studies, findings are reported here in three major themes including
tourism impacts on living conditions, community satisfaction, and quality of life.
Each interview was translated (from Spanish to English) and transcribed by the
researcher who is familiar with the language and culture of the study areas. As the
researcher reviewed each interview, a summary table was created listing the different cases
(KIs listed on the rows and the different questions/themes listed in the columns). For each
individual case, the different sub-themes that emerged were listed and color-coded to
differentiate them. These were reported in the findings section indicating which were more
commonly reported based on frequency. However, findings also included those themes
which were less discussed. The purpose of this differentiation was to identify those themes
that most commonly resonated to community members without discarding those less
mentioned, all relevant for qualitative inquiry.7
To ensure trustworthiness, credibility and confirmability were achieved through re-
flexibility and triangulation (Guba and Lincoln 1989). Reflexibility was achieved by
contrasting created theme listings with field notes. The researcher found consistency
among the topics uncovered by both mechanisms of data collection (e.g., interviews and
field notes). Triangulation was conducted by reporting and discussing findings with aca-
demics and NGO consultants once the KI interviews were described, analyzed, and
interpreted (Wolcott 1994; Flick 2005). These individuals were prompted to agree or
disagree with the themes and findings.8 The author's familiarity with the country and study
communities allowed for an easy identification of such individuals. Additionally, sec-
ondary data was used to help the researcher gain contextual understanding of the study
communities. These included national and local newspapers, local magazines, the National
Census and Statistics Institute, university studies, and the Costa Rica's State of the Nation
publication (EN).

6 Respondent's age was recorded in a scale that ranged from 1 = 20-30; 2 = 31-40; 3 = 41-50; 4 = 51-
60; and 5 = 61 and above. The mean age of Liberian respondents was 2.87 and 3.08 for La Fortunans

7 Terms such as 'often' or 'the majority' will be used in the findings section when referring to a theme that
was clearly a topic of importance among the majority (over 51%) of the respondents. Terms like 'to a lesser
extent' refers to topics mentioned by 50% or less of the respondents.
8 The information provided by these informants, while used as a trustworthiness mechanism, is not reported
in the finding's section.


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 1 13

4 Findings and Discussion

4.1 Tourism Development

4.1.1 Liberia

Twenty years ago Liberia was, according to respondents, a town or small city characterize
by its quiet, rural atmosphere. People were family-oriented and everyone knew and trust
each other. At that time, Liberia's rivers were noted to be pristine and the town w
described as being clean.
Currently, respondents characterized Liberia as a city experiencing rapid growth. Th
was evidenced by the arrival of foreigners, increased vehicular activity, and economi
expansion; particularly evident after 1995 with the opening of Liberia's internation
airport. Liberians interviewed particularly commented the commercial and service sectors
growth resulting from the tourism boom promoted by the airport.
Respondents noted that tourism enterprises and related businesses were often owned and
managed by extra-local corporations. KIs perceived themselves incapable of competing
with these corporations reflecting their low education, limited economic resources an
access to credit, and the economic and cultural ramifications of historical trends of lan
concentration in few hands. As a result, respondents indicated experiencing impose
changes in their community.

4.1.2 La Fortuna

La Fortuna, according to respondents, used to be a calm, rural, and under developed town
According to respondents, the town had limited infrastructure, few roads, and low
vehicular activity. Informants believed the town was repressed with few job opportuniti
However, many informants described La Fortuna as a familial place, where everyone knew
each other, and engaged in multiple community-oriented formal and informal activit
(i.e., community meetings, festivities, attending mass).
Today's La Fortuna, according to respondents, was a town experiencing chang
resulting from an exponentially increasing tourism activity. Respondents acknowledg
their high level of dependence on tourism, emphasizing the role of local residents dev
oping it. They indicated this benefited the vast majority of its residents reflecting th
involvement and investment in the local economy. As a result, tourism impacted L
Fortuna in different ways than Liberia.

4.2 Impacts of Tourism

4.2.1 Liberia Economic Impacts Respondents noted a more diverse pool of employm

opportunities since the tourism boom. In comparison with traditional agriculture-b
jobs, tourism and related jobs were reported as providing higher incomes. Neverthele
informants acknowledged these jobs were not for everyone. Often, tourism-related
were given to younger individuals with the English and entrepreneurial skills to ful
high-level positions. Respondents indicated foreigners often took these positions.


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114 D. Matarrita-Cascante

Despite this, KIs noted

believed they had more
resources were often o
tioned that economic p
community. Hence the l
them. Further, the grow
prices of land and goods
Reflecting increasing
respondents often com
However, respondents
ment's incapacity to pl
ficient service provisio
they provided. For insta
how these were often
respondents often com
problems with the crea Social Impacts

impacts on local tradit
generations, believed t
about the loss of cultura
of particular concern as
only found in the regio

What I am saying is th
impacts us negatively.
group, and all that cul
leaving money, drugs,
say "I need to defend
development should no
from the rest.

Additionally, responde
attributed directly or i
trafficking and consum
began expanding in the

The influence of touri

dering, prostitution, dr

A concerned hostel own

There is no single Italia

after checking in.

A high school teacher

Negativelytourism has
way? They've [the crim
saw how easy it is to s

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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 1 15

Another social impact commonly mentioned by respondents was culture clash wi

newcomers moving into Liberia and its proximities. This was the case of individuals
migrated to the area attracted by jobs. A resentful hotel owner added:

If you pay attention, the people taking over the jobs created by tourism are for-
eigners. But the Liberian, per se, is not the one fulfilling the high demand for jobs
created since the coming of tourism. Such people take over the jobs we should be

Commenting on culture clash, a law enforcement officer added:

Around 30-40% of Liberia's population is foreign. Most of them are Nicaraguan.

Liberian' s thoughts towards them are mainly negative. They see Nicaraguans as
having low schooling levels and are socially connective, which make locals feel

One of the main social concerns resulting from tourism development, according to
respondents, has been an increased level of poverty and inequality. Respondents often
commented on how tourism resulted in a stronger polarization of classes. A retired scholar

There have been three historical events in Liberia which has impoverished us. The
annexation to Costa Rica, the construction of the Interamerican highway, and the
construction of the International Airport which brought tourism. These events have
made the poor, poorer.

A health care provider concerned with class differences in Liberia noted:

For me there is the existence of two sectors in Liberia. One sector has the possibility
to access private businesses and other conditions that allow you to improve your life
like a gym, good alimentation; in that part there is development. We now have gyms,
access to private health care, access to many private services that improves your
quality of life. But there is also the other side of the population, the ones who do not
have access to those possibilities. . .We go to their residences and see a big difference.

Similarly a social worker noted the extreme differences in living conditions in town:

Some people are economically doing very good, people with large inheritances living
in great houses. But I also feel there is the other extreme, people living in extreme
poverty. There are some neighborhoods that are barely 5 km from the center of
Liberia, where taxi drivers refuse to go in, either because of the state of the road or
for fear of crime. Environmental Impacts Pollution to rivers and oceans, and destruction of forests
were noted as the main impacts of tourism on the natural environment according to
respondents. They often noted the increased levels of construction in the region and its
association with destruction of natural habitats and fauna.9 Respondents recognized the
relationship between growth, its consequences on the environment, and how this affected
their lives:

9 After the country's capital, the province of Guanacaste, in which Liberia is located, has the largest amount
of construction area in Costa Rica (CCC 2008).


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116 D. Matarrita-Cascante

The problems
caused b
the environment
did not see some years
that will take thousan

A concerned extension

[I worry about] enviro

especially for its effect
have to regulate water

Respondents blamed th
respond to the straining
also confessed to being
environmental matters
polluted. A staff assista

We even had our landf

a landfill, but it wasn't
trash collection in my
trash. It was incredible
for the smell, but for
that is education. Ther
bus you still see peopl

While Liberians reporte

more commonly ment
tourism was praised fo
unequal job provision.
appraisal. Finally, the
mentioned and had a n
positive benefits of to
impacts on their living

4.2.2 La Fortuna Economic Impacts Interviewed informants in La Fortuna expressed tourism's

main economic contribution was the creation of more and better quality jobs. Respondent
noted these jobs were often better paying than traditional agriculture-based ones. Howev
in contrast to Liberia, La Fortunans owned the majority of the tourism-based business
and as a result, the economic benefits were believed to stay in the community. A ho
owner who diversified from dairy farming noted:

Hotels provide a lot more than dairy requiring less labor. For instance, I rent cabins
for $50/day. That times my four cabins is $200 in one day. For me to obtain that kind
of money milking cows, I would have to milk a lot of cows.

Overall, respondents indicated being extremely satisfied with the economic benefi
resulting from tourism. Nevertheless, to a lesser extent, they expressed concerns abo
recent increases in greed shown by certain residents, reflected in their lack of cooperati


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 1 17

with others or sharing valuable information (e.g., how to better serve tourists or man
their hotels). Respondents did not see this as a desired characteristic, particularly as it
not reflective of their core values.
Key informants also noted how the improved economy reflected in increased number
and quality of infrastructure and services. This, according to informants, was primarily the
result of the work conducted by their community development association-ADIFORT.
ADIFORT's efforts resulted in improved roads, a more efficient trash collection system,
and construction of commercial centers, sewage and a water treatment plant. When nec-
essary, such efforts were led by ADIFORT through collaboration with the municipality. A
director of ADIFORT commented on this:

What you see in La Fortuna in terms of infrastructure and construction to provide a

good business environment exists because ADIFORT has done it. And it does it
because tourism generates 300 million colones a year [ADIFORT earnings from
entrance fees to their waterfall], which are reinvested in improving the community to
have a good place with good infrastructure. But things get done because we do it
internally, otherwise nothing would be done.

Respondents also acknowledged a more stable economy since the incursion of tourism.
Such an economy was, according to informants, diversified and self-reliant. Some residents
indicated having kept their traditional agriculture and cattle operations, as they understood
the importance of diversification. Residents indicated promoting the consumption of
locally produced goods as a form of retaining economic benefits in the region. Hotel
owners mentioned how they purchased dairy, fruits, and vegetables from other Fortunans.
Further, they saw this practice as key for improving the quality of production, as locals
were forced to compete with extra-local producers. As a result, the local economy seemed
to have grown in quantity and quality. Social Impacts As with Liberia, La Fortunans noted a recent loss of traditional
practices, values, and customs in their town. Respondents indicated the loss of religiosity
and sense of community, and reduced family cohesion. A concerned local priest noted:

As tourism arrived, the workday has become longer. People have fewer days off.
This affects families as they lose their sense of family. They also lose their sense of
religiosity. No longer people prepare themselves for baptism. They no longer see
what is really important.

Similarly a retired construction worker sadly commented:

When I came here this was totally a family-oriented town and it stayed like that for a
long time. We spent Christmas in family, prayed the rosary, one visited other's
homes and ate tamales. Today we are all independent families, everything changed
since tourism. What everyone talks about these days is dollars and that's it.

Informants also reported increased levels of prostitution, drug trafficking and con-
sumption, and crime in La Fortuna. Nevertheless, they often referred to these as inherent to
tourism and saw them in early controllable stages.
As a positive social impact, informants noted the increased levels of education as local
leaders believe in its importance and invested on it. This reflected, to an extent, growing
tourism demands for a better-trained and knowledgeable population.

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118 D. Matarrita-Cascante Environmental Im
ure since the coming of t
care for nature. This re
protect local water and f
organizations created by t

We created ADIFORT, th
the Protection of the Ar
of Water that we consu
protection of the envir
community that only th
thinks about prevention,

The Asociacin de Desarollo Integral de La Fortuna is currently in the process of

constructing sewage for La Fortuna and nearby communities and a water treatment plant.
ADIFORT has also implemented environmental education and recycling programs in local
schools. Additionally, La Fortuna has received national and international environmental
awards for their sustainable efforts. Local hotel owners proudly spoke about their adoption
of recycling, reusing, and zero carbon emissions programs. Finally, to a lesser extent, La
Fortunans interviewed noted that shifting away from agriculture reduced deforestation.
La Fortuna' s KIs reported their assessment of the impacts of tourism as mixed. The
topics more commonly mentioned were economic which received an overall positive
assessment - as tourism was praised for creating more, better paying, and more distributed
jobs among the majority of the community in addition to improved commercial activity
and service provision. Followed by these were the social impacts, which had a negative
appraisal. Finally, the positive impacts of tourism on the environment were the least
mentioned and had a positive assessment. Overall, it can be concluded that the interviewed
resident's perceptions of tourism impacts were largely positive.

4.3 Community Satisfaction

4.3.1 Liberia

When asked how satisfied they were with their current community life, Liberians
respondents answered in various ways. A very small number of informants responde
being satisfied, having mixed feelings, or not being satisfied at all with their curren
The largest group of respondents noted their satisfaction depended upon someone's
position in a series of divergent groups within Liberia. For instance, the majority of thes
respondents noted satisfaction's association with access to economic and educational
opportunities in the community. Not having access to these resources resulted in being
dissatisfied individual with the community. Others believed satisfaction was associate
with living in an urban (satisfied because of access to services) in contrast to a rura
environment (dissatisfied because of lack of access to services). Other differentiation
included being young (satisfied because of higher access to opportunities) versus being old
(dissatisfied because they were reluctant to change); and active or involved (satisfie
because they were participants in development) in contrast to passive or conformis
individuals (dissatisfied because they perceived themselves displaced from development
The following quotations evidence KIs perceptions of some of these contrasting groups

) Springer

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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 1 19

Those with a more or less good economic situation, who have access to commerce
who own big properties, who own their big businesses, they are ok. The middle class
is half way satisfied and the lower class is not. They have a lot of needs. I would say
there is a big percentage that is not satisfied (Priest).

There are people in this society that are 35 or 40 years old that are open to the
changes brought by tourism, the good and the bad. The older persons see everything
as very negative because they say: "they come and build those big hotels and one
cannot even access the beach anymore." So they are not open to change, they have
roots that they do not want to change. But youth, clearly they are satisfied, because
they have more opportunities (High school teacher).

In terms of themes, respondents expressed different factors associated with th

community satisfaction. Respondents noted Liberia's new opportunities were a m
factor predicting community satisfaction. Opportunities reflected better incomes, m
jobs, and access to education. A hotel owner emphasized the role of economic benefit
tourism towards community satisfaction:

I think, like every town, in some ways we are satisfied because there is more money
coming in and there are some new jobs available that did not exist in the past.

Informants also noted the increased number of services present in the area as a source
community satisfaction. However, paralleling the themes reported in the impacts
tourism section, respondents noted the difference between more and better services. Lar
levels of dissatisfaction were particularly reported when referring to public service
they failed to meet the higher demands associated with a rapidly growing population
Among the most commented factors defining residents' dissatisfaction were th
associated with social problems. This was particularly the case of the growing cla
polarization experienced in Liberia. Respondents clearly differentiated between dive
gent groups in the community and their contrasting living conditions. Additiona
increased crime, loss of culture, and culture clash with a growing migrant populati
were often mentioned as sources of dissatisfaction. Informants were also dissatisfied
because of the uncontrolled and unplanned growth experienced in Liberia reflected in
transit chaos and pollution. A dissatisfied community development association repre-
sentative noted:

Well, satisfied from my perspective, I do not think so. Because for instance in Liberia
you cannot drive anymore, nor walk either. If you do not pay attention you will get in
an accident because there is way too much traffic. Also thieves have achieved that
one does not feel safe.

Rarely did respondents mention environmental themes when referring to their levels of
community satisfaction.

4.3.2 La Fortuna

In contrast to Liberia, responses in La Fortuna were more homogeneous. The larg

majority of respondents agreed they were satisfied with their community and belie
overall progress was the reason for their satisfaction. This was reflected in enha
employment opportunities, perceived increased knowledge, and increased motivatio
pursue an education. Often these revolved around economic benefits resulting fr


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120 D. Matarrita-Cascante

tourism. In La Fortuna,
amount of land in hand
satisfaction as a result from the economic benefits of tourism:

Currently yes, the residents of La Fortuna are satisfied because tourism has brought
more blessings than evils. For instance take the case of a cattle rancher that has a
small farm. During the 1980s and 1990s his land was worth 150 Colones per m2, now
days it's worth 100,000 or 150,000 per m2. . .That is one reason why people are happy
with tourism and the other one is jobs.

Respondents also noted the role services played in their satisfaction. Having more
services seemed a key element for resident's community satisfaction. Additionally,
informants noted their satisfaction as a result of the living conditions in town.
To a lesser extent, respondents mentioned some negative elements affecting their
community satisfaction including greed and the deterioration of some core traditional
values including religiosity.
Respondents often expressed their community satisfaction in terms of how well other
residents were doing. Benefits, according to informants, were well distributed among
individuals in the community, and both owners and employees were benefiting from it. A
community leader commented on this: "When it comes to the tourism activity, everything
is pretty homogenous. Everyone is living off it." A hotel owner proudly spoke of the
uniqueness of La Fortuna as it provides opportunities for everyone:

I really believe that this is a place in Costa Rica where the distribution of the money,
or the income resulting from development, is well distributed . . . some have focused
on creating their hotels while others complemented their agriculture and livestock
production, with hotels and other tourism activities. Previously we did not have a lot
of jobs, currently we have a lot since tourism has grown rapidly. The labor is local,
so you can see marginalized neighbors now days with nicer looking houses, as they
have been improved and painted. One can see it in the commercial activities. One
can see it in the persons, their way of dressing. Families that were economically
suppressed, now days have their motorcycles, their vehicles.

Despite these positive assessments, respondents indicated some aspects of their life, to a
lesser extent, negatively affected their levels of community satisfaction. These included
increased number of cases of drug addiction and trafficking in town, increased goods
prices, difficulties associated with purchasing a home, and emerging crime. Yet, KIs
insisted these problems were controllable and less relevant in contrast to the positive
aspects affecting their community satisfaction.

4.4 Quality of Life

4.4.1 Liberia

Similar to the responses given in the community satisfaction question, Liberians respon
dents provided mix responses when asked to describe their quality of life. A small grou
believed Liberia's quality of life was overall good. Similarly, a small number of respon
dents believed their quality of life was not good. A larger number of respondents reco
nized economic growth had improved their quality of life, also recognizing this growth wa
not paralleled by social development. A university professor distinguishing between
growth and development commented:


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 121

Tourism... we've received a lot of investment in the economic realm, enormous

economic development. But matched to it, there has not been social development. A
a matter of fact, poverty in the region increased by 1% last year, regardless of th
enormous economic development. Hence economic growth does not translate into, o
has not translated still into social development.

Similarly, a health care provider noted the difference between better service
overall improved quality of life:

Economic growth has not been manifested in population well-being. For instan
health services have improved, more and bigger hospitals, more access to rur
health, improvements in the types of specialized doctors available here, all that h
changed. But on average I do not perceive that the quality of life has improved.

The large majority of respondents agreed quality of life in Liberia depended largely
socioeconomic status. For those closer to the city, quality of life was good as long as
had the resources to access educational and job opportunities, and services (i.e., pr
health clinics, gyms, and better food). For those living in the periphery, quality of lif
bad as reflected in poverty, crime, lack of access to education or jobs, and reduced
to services. Respondents identified such marginalized groups as the majority of Li
In terms of themes, the quality of life topics most often discussed were those asso
with increased employment and access to educational opportunities. To a lesser ex
informants noted an increasing problem with loss of customs, spiritualism, incre
consumerism. An extension agent added:

It has decreased [quality of life]. Development comes with everything no? If th

policies are not well oriented, it comes with imbalances. If we analyze it deeper
there is not an economic poverty, but a mental poverty. Because people have... h
we have lots of jobs, many companies. But because we are so polluted with the boom
of music, dancing, fine clothing... there is a lot of consumerism. So I would classif
it as a mental poverty, not so much economic. Is a trend that is going away fro
morals and spiritualism.

Respondents also indicated how increased service provision positively affected

quality of life. However, they noted such services were not accessible to everyone
community. Most commonly, those closer to the town's center were able to have acce
such services. Proximity to town seemed to be highly linked to socioeconomic stat
higher prices demanded its residents to be able to afford them.
Despite the economic growth, the polarization of classes often reported by the
viewed residents was an element strongly affecting their quality of life. Highly asso
with such disparity was poverty, one of the key elements of a reduced reported qual
life in Liberia. Additionally, respondents often noted the effects of tourism on p
safety, crime, and drugs as affecting their quality of life.

4.4.2 La Fortuna

Overall, the majority of the La Fortunans interviewed considered their quality of life
very good. In contrast to Liberia, the discourse in La Fortuna was more homogeneou
responses were often very similar among residents.

) Springer

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122 D. Matarrita-Cascante

Respondent's quality o
sonal economy. Respon
employers since the co
commented on this:

It [quality of life] has improved, it is good, it is because many families shifted from
being employees to being owners of their own businesses. And within their debt,
there is money being generated to have a better quality of life. The development
experienced in La Fortuna in the last 14 years has been abysmal. If you compare
what we had here 14 or 16 years ago to today, today the level of development is

Local ownership resulted in reduced leakages and increased incomes for families which
was reflected in their housing conditions and improved socioeconomic status. A public
relations spokesperson for a large hotel noted:

Quality of life has improved from a 100 to 200%. We have better salaries, more and
better options for education. For instance, in agriculture a person can make 50.000
colones a month, while in tourism they can make 250.000 - 500.000. Their economic
level of life has changed drastically. Everyone has a car and house.

Similarly a small hotel owner commented:

Very good because people have sufficient work. The majority has good houses;
workers have a roof, good salaries. Even the few marginal houses in town are not as
ugly as you would see in other parts of the country.

Respondents also noted the increased availability of services in La Fortuna as an ele-

ment associated with quality of life. These included more health services, telecommuni-
cations, water, and transportation. While speaking about quality of life, a member of
ADIFORT noted:

I would say good because we have job opportunities, health services, good tele-
communication, an interest in fighting diseases like dengue, which have caused a lot
of harm to our communities. These are the things that could harm us in terms of
tourism and also in the labor aspect and basically in all the economic sectors.

A better distributed economy was one of the major causes of perceived improved
conditions affecting quality of life among interviewed respondents. KI were proud to repo
a tourism-based economy provided benefits to the large majority of the residents,
wealth, according to them, was well distributed in La Fortuna.
Nevertheless, respondents commented on certain aspects negatively affecting thei
quality of life. These included increased drugs and crime, and loss of a familial enviro
ment in town. Informants seem to suggest these problems affected their quality of life to
much smaller extent when compared with the benefits resulting from tourism. A photo-
grapher and lifelong resident commented on this:

No, it hasn't been higher [negative impacts in contrast to positive ones], but
development comes with some negative things, things that are not from here. You
know that happens worldwide, wherever tourism incurs, it brings a lot of money and
things are different. It is not like before, where we had a dozen families and on
Christmas everyone shared their tamales and everything.


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Changing Communities, Community Satisfaction, and Quality of Life 123

Additionally, other elements positively and negatively associated with La Fortu

quality of life included the loss of religiosity, increased stress from a faster pace of
increased concern for the environment, and increased capacity to help others.
While respondents acknowledged the role of economic growth on quality of life,
also understood how such growth translated into development. A cattle rancher comm
on this:

[Quality of life in La Fortuna] in a scale from 1 to 10, 1 would say 9. Why? Becau
everyone here lives off tourism. What does that score has to do with tourism
Because tourism generates a lot of money. It is the main source of income in t
country. In here almost about everyone has some kind of relationship with tourism
Definitely, we can't stop it. You can have a small farm and divide it in lots, an
everyone is going to buy you lots for hotels. Or if you have a large farm, you c
have livestock and everyone is going to buy the meat from you... but in addition t
communities are supported. Schools have been provided with equipment, inform
tion, computers, and software.

Overall, the scenario in La Fortuna is of a positive and improved quality of life

large extent this is the result of improved personal and community living conditions

5 Discussions and Conclusions

A qualitative examination of community's shifting living conditions and its effects o

community satisfaction, and quality of life was conducted. The richness and depth of the
KI interviews allowed us to better understand the ways in which two communities exp
riencing tourism-driven living conditions' changes, resulted in different perceived

In Liberia, shifting living conditions resulted in decreased perceived commu

isfaction and quality of life while La Fortuna presented a contrasting story. These
situations were the result of the internal local conditions and processes pre and d
tourism boom. The historical and associated cultural characteristics of each co
resulted in different land tenure conditions and subsequent attitudes toward
development. Additionally, closely tied to each community's past and cultu
current community interactional and organizational capacities determined the
change lived in each community. The level of involvement (or lack of) in unde
and managing the factors driving change, provided residents with a sense of own
control over their community.
Change in Liberia was, to a large extent, determined and imposed by extra-loca
Extra-local tourism-led development resulted in improved livelihoods for a few
the majority experienced increased poverty and inequality. Further, all residen
enced increased prices, leakage of economic benefits, social malaises, and envi
depletion. As a result, respondents reported an overall decline in their living c
community satisfaction and quality of life.
In contrast, La Fortuna presented a larger capacity to define and control th
which change occurred in their community resulting from local ownership of
related resources and high levels of organization and involvement among its resi
result, tourism-led development was seen as overall beneficial for their living
community satisfaction and quality of life.


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124 D. Matarrita-Cascante

In both communities, li
life were commonly th
respondents, current livi
were a reflection of mu
tourism-driven change w
weighted these mixed as
more relevant within th
negatively assessed. In L
centage of local ownersh
Nonetheless, some transf
both communities, econo
Having more jobs and a b
important factor for re
predictors of their asses
respondent's assessments
prominent. This suggest
here, given their historic
by economic factors. Ne
factors were completely
economic factors as part
As learned here, the stud
living conditions and ex
the study noted how the
reflected conditions live
accessed resources and o
quality of life. This was
residents who lacked ser
noted how satisfied they
munity and its residents.
one is
also how doing, but
community life for eve
research in community
ceived Wellness of others as well.

Acknowledgment I would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and my colleagues Dr. A.E. Luloff, Dr.
Alex Mclntosh, Dr. Kyle Woosnam, and Dr. Corliss Outley for their comments and suggestions which
helped me to improve this manuscript.


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