This scoping paper examines the complex issue of assessing and understanding community views about the restructuring towards nature-based rural tourism of traditional agriculture and forestry rural economies and their activities that had hitherto shaped local identities. It shows how individual resident perceptions can be included within social impact assessment through the use of psychological methods and discusses the relative merits of using personal construct theory-based repertory grids.
Ten repertory grid interviews were completed in Eden, New South Wales, Australia. The findings present both the resulting repertory grids and a more detailed discussion of the interpretation of the grids through two narratives that focus on residents considering what, in their opinion, constitutes a sustainable utilisation of local forest land.
The discussion examines how the results of this type of analysis can be used to understand individual residents’ decisions to support or reject nature-based tourism proposals in favour of traditional extractive forest-industry sectors. It shows how this assessment system could aid planners in reconciling stakeholder conflict over the ideal usage of public forest land by offering a structured means of giving heterogeneous rural communities a formal voice in tourism-planning processes.