In subnational small-island settings with a relatively undisturbed natural environment and an outmigration population, tourism development is often used as an alternative development strategy for economic and social regeneration. When such tourism development entails place-based management, such as in a marine protected area (MPA), tourism development can also be used as a strategy for alleviating the conflict between conservation and development as well as for increasing community participation. Local support and capacity building prior to tourism development are essential for involving local communities. Local communities are often complex and heterogeneous, and tourism development must be tailored to match their diverse needs. In this case study, three communities within the South Penghu Archipelago, where a marine national park and development of the tourism industry has been proposed, were investigated. This study assessed the perception of tourism development among community actors and the demands for capacity building to cope with future changes by conducting a social-ecological system (SES) analysis wherein the South Penghu MPA was considered a nested SES composed of subsystems. The subsystems focused on in this study were fishermen and nonfishermen at the functional scale and individual communities at the spatial scale. The results showed that the perceptions on tourism development varied substantially among the community actors and the different sub-SESs because of their different experiences in social-ecological interactions. Therefore, tourism development in a regional place-based management, such as in a MPA, must consider the various perceptions of such subsystems on tourism development. Rather than considering all local communities as a general unit, capacity building should be tailored to the needs of the community actors from the various sub-SESs. In addition, support from governmental agencies is essential for the success of community-based MPA policies.
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