Second homes and tourism on Northern Ireland’s north coast: community perspectives

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


One of the earliest seminal studies on second homes (see Coppock, 1977) reported the concern of second home development on existing communities and residents, and while the topic has received some attention since, there remains a dearth of good in-depth research on resident opinion to second home development. The most current edited book on the topic (see Hall and Muller, 2004) is relatively limited on reporting social impact works, a reflection on where the energies of researchers interested in writing about second homes and tourism are directed. This author therefore argues that there exists an absence of research that reflects the views of residents and affected communities and the case study presented in this paper, is a small step towards engaging in research which shifts the pendulum towards the views of residents over owners. The communities of Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock and Portballintrae on Northern Ireland’s North Coast represent the major resort towns of the region where second homes have come to represent between 30 and 57% of all housing stock. A survey of resident views on second homes within these four communities was undertaken in the summer of 2005. 2081 questionnaires were delivered to households and 503 responses were received, a response rate of 24 percent. The survey set out to gauge resident opinion on the level of 2nd home development, the extent to which their communities have changed over time as a result of this form of tourist development, and resident views on further 2nd home development. The study found that the majority of residents thought the level of 2nd home development to be bad (66%) for their community; only 16% indicated that it was positive. The level of negative feeling about 2nd home development was found to be strongly tied to the length of residency (over 30% of respondents said they had lived all their life in the community, with another 23% saying they had moved to community more than 25 years ago, and had strong feeling for and attachment to it). Many residents (42%) stated that their communities had changed in the last 6 - 10 years, with a significant proportion of responses (38%) saying they had noticed changes more recent than that. Asked how best to describe their community, responses varied from negative feelings of ‘loss of identity’ (36%), ‘too many outsiders’ (10%) to positive response like ‘small and quiet’ (27%). There emerged from the results strong opinion against further 2nd home development taking place (19% actively against, 32% silently against). There emerged no discernible differences when findings were cross-tabulated according to gender, age and occupation. The viewpoints of residents within tourism communities are important, and what this study reveals is that if good relations are to be retained, the voices of the long-term residents need to be heard. There is a need for second home researchers to start to explore the social impacts of second home development within resort communities. The intention is for further second homes to be developed across the resort communities of Northern Ireland’s North Coast region, and the extent of this development should be tempered given the views many residents hold.ReferencesCoppock, J.T. (1977) Second Homes: Curse or Blessing? Oxford: Pergamon.Hall, C.M. and Muller, D.K. (2004) (eds) Tourism, Mobility and Second Homes: Between Elite Landscapes and Common Ground. Clevedon: Channel View.
Original languageEnglish
TypePaper presented at the 2nd annual conference of THRIC
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 14 Jun 2006


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