This study focused on economic and environmental equity in tourism and recreation dependent communities in the U.S. In the economic equity section, research was conducted to do an empirical analysis of the income distribution in nonmetropolitan tourism and recreation dependent communities. In the environmental equity section, this study evaluated conceptual and theoretical understanding dealing with tourism and the environment and addressed the importance of environmental equity issues.
A key objective of this study is to examine economic equity across different income groups and race in nonmetropolitan tourism and recreation dependent communities. By comparing economic equity between nonmetropolitan tourism and recreation dependent communities and other industry dependent nonmetropolitan communities, the differences of income inequality between those communities were explored. This study also assesses how tourism and recreation development contributes to economic equity in nonmetropolitan tourism and recreation communities in the U.S. In particular, determinants of income inequality were investigated.
Income distribution of nonmetropolitan tourism and recreation dependent communities is more unequal than that of nonmetropolitan manufacturing dependent communities in the U.S. Tourism and recreation development contributes to increase income inequality while manufacturing related development is likely to reduce income inequality. The positive effect comes from the inequality of earnings in tourism and recreation employment. Race dualism shows a positive relationship with income inequality. This result suggests that the racial difference in income distribution plays an important role in increasing income inequality. There is a positive relationship between the south region and income inequality irrespective of community type and suggest that the regional variable is still an essential component for understanding income inequality in the U.S.
This study addresses the need of an environmental justice framework for improving environmental equity across stakeholders in the process of tourism and recreation planning and development. Equity within/between social groups and inter and intragenerational equity should be taken into account for sustainable tourism and recreation development. The analytical framework for assessing environmental equity that this study suggested will be a good foundation for further development of environmental equity framework in the context with tourism and recreation development.