In recent years, events tourism has grown, and festivals are emerging as a fast-growing sector of the tourism and leisure industry which can have a significant impact on the host communities (Getz, 2008).
The appeal of festivals is related to the uniqueness of the experience that they have to offer. The individuals have an opportunity to take part in something that is not usually available as a part of their everyday life (Getz, 1995). Festivals are only available for a specified period which adds to the uniqueness. Therefore, unlike other fixed tourist attractions that are accessible all the year round at a destination, festivals occur infrequently, which makes a visit to a festival special or unique in the eyes of those who take advantage of the limited opportunity to participate (Small, 2007).
The hosting of a festival entails some of the positive and negative social impacts on a host community; those are which can influence the day-to-day quality of life and bring changes to lifestyle, values, social interactions and identity (Glasson, Godfrey, & Goodey, 1995). There is a number of impacts of festivals that can be positively perceived by locals namely entertainment and various leisure activities, increased sense of identity and pride (Small, 2007). Although the organisers of the festivals and local municipalities are aiming to foster positive impacts by advertising the potential benefits, festivals can also generate negative impacts on a host community. Traffic, noise pollutions, overcrowding, vandalism and other negative effects that could disrupt the lives of a host community (Getz, 1997; Small & Edwards, 2003)
Festivals are appealing to communities seeking to refer to issues of heritage, conservation, employment generation and economic development as well as local pride and identity. It is important that the festival is seen as emerging from within rather than being forced on its host community, as it ensures a greater community’s acceptance. Festivals can be seen as a representation of host community’s sense of itself and sense of place, therefore, it is necessary to have a better understanding of host-guest relationship (Yeoman, Robertson, Ali-Knight, Drummond, McMahon-Beattie, 2004).
Residents of the community play an important role in the festival, as they often act as hosts and participants, therefore their perceptions of the social impacts are important to consider as it determines the level of current and future support for the festival from the resident population.
Annually there are approximately 900 various festivals organised in the Netherlands (Statista, 2018), whereas the Sneekweek is the largest sailing event on European inland waterways (Holland.com, 2018). It is an annual sailing event organized by the Royal Watersport Association of Sneek. During this week there are sailing competitions are held every day in different categories on the Sneekermeer and Goëngarijpsterpoelen. In addition to the various sailing activities, there are also various fairs, markets and music festivals are organised within Sneekweek throughout the city centre of Sneek (Sneekweekgids, 2017). According to a research agency City Traffic (2016), in 2015 over 320,000 unique visitors attended the Sneekweek in the first weekend and in 2016 there were 295,000 participants registered (GrootSneek, 2016), whereas the overall population of Sneek is only 33,855 people (StatLine, 2017). Due to the scale of this festival and amount of people attending it, it can be stated that the organisation of the Sneekweek entails different positive, as well as negative social impacts that can have an effect on the local community.
Even though in past few years certain measures were taken in order to improve the experience for both local people and visitors, there is still a number of complaints from the residents of Sneek. Most of the complaints are related to the noise pollution due to the perceived high noise level of the performances and well as the noise produced by the crowd, furthermore, several arrests were made due to the vandalism and drug abuse (Grootsneek, 2017).
Therefore, it is necessary to measure the impacts of festivals due to the fact that the contribution that this information can make to improved management of future festivals, in particular connected to the maintenance of community’s support for the festival (Getz, 1997). This paper aims to synthesise the literature, including the research methods used and analytical techniques that have been employed in order to provide a platform for future research in this critical area.