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Title: The attractiveness of local cuisine and its influence on Chinese domestic tourists' perceptions of destinations
Authors: Guan, Jingjing
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Cuisine is a critical component of tourism product. Dining in a destination can be tourists' important experiences and further influence their satisfactions and perceptions of the destination. However, the contributions of travel dining experiences to tourists' satisfactions and perceptions of destinations have not been sufficiently explored. At the same time, a limited amount of literature has discussed what kinds of destinations' cuisine appeal to tourists and what kinds of tourists are fond of destinations' cuisine. In order to bridge these research gaps, this study attempts to address three research questions. First, what is local cuisine attractiveness and how to evaluate it? Second, what factors are appropriate to segment Chinese domestic tourists in terms of their preferences of destinations' cuisine? Third, to what extent, local cuisine contributes to Chinese domestic tourists' perceptions of destinations? The research strategy employed by this study is a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The exploratory qualitative research was preceded and followed with more confirmatory quantitative study. More specifically, in the first stage, in-depth interviews were conducted to explore the attributes of local cuisine, due to the scarcity of literature discussing the attributes of local cuisine from tourists' viewpoints. Twenty Chinese domestic tourists in Chengdu and Xuyi were interviewed. Through the data analysis of interview transcripts, thirty-six attributes were extracted and classified corresponding to the theory of three levels of tourism product. Five attributes belonged to core benefits of local cuisine. Twenty-two attributes are related to the formal product of local cuisine. The augmented product of local cuisine includes ten attributes associating with service, price and activities around local cuisine. In the quantitative part, combining the attributes of local cuisine identified from the qualitative research and literature review, this study adopted the index construction approach to establish a measurable measurement for local cuisine attractiveness. The index construction procedures include content specification, indicators specification and purification, assessment of reliability and validity. A pilot survey which involved over 300 Chinese domestic tourists was conducted to collect the empirical data to purify the attributes of local cuisine attractiveness and assess the reliability and validity of the new measurement.
Once the new measurement was developed, it was employed to examine the influences of local cuisine on tourists' perceptions towards destinations. An empirical model was hypothesized to investigate the causal relationships between tourists' preferences of local cuisine which were measured by tourists' involvements, knowledge and past experiences of local cuisine and their perceptions of local cuisine (i.e. local cuisine attractiveness), and further the influence of local cuisine on their perceptions of travel satisfactions and destination attractiveness. Two destinations, Chengdu and Xuyi, Mainland China, served as main survey venues. Chengdu is a destination that is famous for its local cuisine and has multiple tourists' attractions. Xuyi is a destination with famous local cuisine as its solo and most important tourists' attraction. The data was collected from over 600 Chinese domestic tourists and analyzed by partial least square structural equation modeling. Additionally, the data was compared across two destinations, using the technique 'multiple groups modeling', in order to examine the influences of destinations types on tourists' perceptions of local cuisine and destinations. The findings of this study revealed that local cuisine attractiveness can be evaluated using the attributes of local cuisine, such as flavor, hygiene, reputation, novelty and cultural meaning, and is also associated with the service offered by the restaurants in destinations. However, the importance of individual attributes of local cuisine might vary corresponding to the different kinds of local cuisine. The local cuisine attractiveness is closely related to tourists' satisfactions with their trips and tourists' perceptions of destination attractiveness, irrespective of types of destinations. In other words, the contribution of local cuisine to a destination is significant and critical. Regarding the segmentation of tourists, tourists who are interested in local cuisine and knowledgeable of local cuisine perceive the local cuisine and the destination more attractive, while tourists' past experiences of the local cuisine did not influence their perceptions of the local cuisine and the destination in this study. Generally speaking, tourists' preferences of local cuisine were quite similar across two destinations, except that tourists in Xuyi were more involved in the local cuisine, which reflected that a destination with local cuisine as the major attraction is more appealing to food lovers. The main theoretical implications of this study include the identification of underlying attributes of local cuisine, establishment of a new measurement assessing local cuisine attractiveness, connecting tourists' preferences of local cuisine with their perceptions toward local cuisine and destinations, and extending the destination perception model into an activity-mediated destination perception model. Regarding practical implications, this study reminds practitioners in tourism industry to pay more attention on tourists' eating experience, and stresses that targeted customers for destinations with famous local cuisine are tourists who have involvement and knowledge of local cuisine. The results of this study also provide a measurable tool to evaluate and improve local cuisine of destinations.
Subjects: Tourism and gastronomy.
Tourism and gastronomy -- China.
Food habits -- China.
Tourists -- China.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Pages: xviii, 420 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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