This paper describes a framework which has been designed for a comparative study of the social impacts of tourism in destination communities along the eastern seaboard of Australia. As this part of Australia is experiencing the most rapid population growth and at the same time encompasses the focus of tourist activity in the country, it is expected that the tension between tourism and urban development demands will become more pronounced in the future.Theframework is tested through an application to a case study involving one of Australia s most well known seaside resorts, the Gold Coast. While the Gold Coast survey of resident reactions revealed some relationships between variations in perceptions of tourism s impacts and background characteristics such as involvement in tourism, residential proximity to tourist activity and period of residence, the most notable feature of resident reactions in this case is the generally positive view of tourism s role in the region. It is therefore concluded that the altruistic surplus phenomenon observed in urban planning research may apply to tourism. In the tourism context, the altruistic surplus concept suggests that individuals tolerate any downside effects of tourism they might experience personally because they recognise the broader community wide benefits of this activity. The Gold Coast study also suggests that, contrary to the Doxey scenario, residents in large scale mature tourist destinations do not become more antagonistic towards tourism.