This paper studies the empirical views and opinions of local residents towards the socio-cultural effects of tourism and both queries and extends theory related to the demonstration effect and within that perceived change in values. The research is applied to Pattaya, Thailand, a destination that has been subject to foreign tourist contact over a 50-year period. Changes are specifically related to ‘foreign’ tourists rather than domestic tourists. The tourism demonstration concept is made operational through qualitative in-depth interviews with a spectrum of local residents. Contrary to previous assumptions, tourism demonstration is muted in its effect on value change. This has implications for management and destination development. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.