Tourists are people too: Nonresidents’ values, beliefs, and acceptance of a nearshore wind farm

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Decision makers frequently voice concerns regarding potential impacts of offshore wind development to coastal tourism; yet, little research has tracked tourists' attitudes towards an offshore wind project over time. In this study, an intercept survey captured viewpoints of visitors to and seasonal residents of Block Island (U.S.A.) prior to, during, and after construction of a nearshore, five-turbine development. A novel two-item measure reveals increased levels of acceptance over time and positive correlations between acceptance and having seen construction activities or the completed project. Regression and path analyses are consistent with values-beliefs-norms (VBN) theory, with underlying values (particularly altruism) and beliefs about the ocean and effects of the wind energy development explaining a substantial share of tourists' acceptance of the project. These findings suggest that rather than following narrow desires for an uninterrupted seascape, tourists’ responses to offshore wind energy developments are influenced by deeper beliefs and guiding principles.

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Energy Policy