Perception of the Significance of Tourism Development Based on the Example of the Residents of Sławno County (Western Pomerania, Poland)
Purpose: It aimed at determining the factors that influence tourism development, with particular emphasis on the level of territorial awareness of Sławno County residents, the involvement of local government authorities, as well as the relations among stakeholders in the development of tourism. Design/Methodology/Approach: In autumn 2022 FGI qualitative research was conducted among the representatives of local government authorities, tourist entrepreneurs and leaders of the local community interested in tourism development in the county. Findings: As the FGI participants stated, the main factor influencing the perception of tourism significance for the socio-economic development of the county was the spatial differentiation of tourist attractions between the coastal zone and the rest of the county. A lot greater opportunities for the development of recreational tourism were said to be located in the coastal zone. What may develop in the part of the county located further than 4-5 km from the Baltic Sea coast is sightseeing tourism and rural tourism. This area has advantages that are interesting for tourists, yet they are currently insufficiently accessible. Practical Implications: Attention was drawn to the necessity of activating local leaders and of actions aimed at shaping awareness and awakening social and economic activity among the inhabitants. In order to balance the benefits of tourism development for all inhabitants of the county, it was proposed to expand the infrastructure and create new tourist products that would make use of previously poorly accessible tourist attractions in areas located outside the coastal zone. Originality/Value: Particular attention was paid to the possibilities of tourism development in areas located in the hinterland of the seaside recreation zone and solutions were proposed for its social and economic activation.