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Title: Destination image building & its influence on destination preference & loyalty of Chinese tourists to Australia
Authors: Mao, Yue Iris
Degree: Ph.D.
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: THIS thesis examines the relationship between destination preference and loyalty, and the destination image building process. It aims to establish and quantify the critical link between destination image building and loyalty formation, which has not been adequately addressed in the literature to date. A conceptual framework was developed to model these relationships, which was validated with an empirical data set. From these studies the thesis, destination preference and post visit loyalty are strongly influenced by consistent destination image building, was formulated. Three research objectives were derived to guide the entire research in order to investigate how the important concepts in image building affected destination preference and destination loyalty. The first objective was to identify the measurement items instrument for travel motivations, destination images and travel inhibitors perceived by outbound Chinese tourists traveling to Australia; and to develop a valid and reliable research instrument. The second objective was to explore the dimensionality of each concept by using exploratory factor analysis (EFA); and to validate the measurement model for each concept by using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The third objective was to test the proposed relationship of each latent variable in travel motivation, destination image, travel inhibitor on destination preference, destination satisfaction and destination loyalty; and to identify the best model by using structural equation modeling (SEM). The final objective was to discuss the theoretical contribution of this study and provide practical implication to tourist destinations. Scale development is one of the major contributions of this study. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to develop measurement scales for the major concepts in the research model. Based on the preliminary finding of literature review, interviews and a pilot study, a research instrument was developed for data collection. Data collected from questionnaire survey was split into two samples for EFA and CFA in order to explore and cross-validate the dimensionality of each research concept of interest. The results of EFA based on the calibration sample identified five latent variables in travel motivations, two variables in cognitive images, four variables in travel inhibitors, two latent variables in destination preference and two variables in destination loyalty. The concepts of affective image and destination satisfaction were found to be unidimensional concepts. The result of CFA has confirmed the latent variables in travel motivation, affective image, travel inhibitors, destination preference, destination satisfaction, and destination loyalty. However, it was found that the three-dimensional structure of cognitive image had a better fit to the data than two-dimensional structure and was supported by theory. The study also found that the two-dimensionality of destination preference resulted from negative wording of some measurement items. Therefore the second dimension that was negatively worded was excluded from the overall measurement model and the structural model because it was inferior in its reliability and explanatory power to the first dimension that was positively-worded. The structural model was assessed using the complete sample to test the hypothetical relationships between latent variables. The modeling process was carried out through several phases and at each phases a full model was tested first and then simplified by dropping insignificant causal relationships one at a time to reduce the model complexity. The simplified overall structural model was reached and used for hypotheses testing. This study contributes to the theoretical advancement by connecting the image building process to destination loyalty. A two-dimensional loyalty concept was also defined, consisting of word-of-mouth and destination attachment. This study identified the major factors influencing destination loyalty, which accounted for more than half of its total variance. Factors contributing to destination attachment were found to be cognitive images, travel inhibitors, destination preference and destination satisfaction. Word-of-mouth was jointly affected by travel motivation, cognitive image and destination satisfaction. Destination satisfaction was the most important factor influencing both dimensions of destination loyalty. The concept of destination preference was introduced and defined as the priority for potential tourists choosing to visit one destination over others available in the market. Preference has been used as a crucial concept in study of customer loyalty in the retail industry. Destination preference was found to be a major factor influencing destination satisfaction and loyalty in this study. The major factors influencing destination preference were travel motivations, destination images and travel inhibitors. This study consolidated the key concepts in image building process and confirmed their important effects on destination preference and loyalty. Therefore, tourism organizations who seek to establish a loyal market in China should start with their image building efforts. A positive image is initially formed through all kinds of information channels and further enhanced by the personal experience in the destination. The findings of this study are able to help the destination to analyze its strengths and weaknesses in the image building process such as its marketing strategy, product combination, service quality and its effectiveness in creating and retaining destination loyalty.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Tourism -- Psychological aspects.
Consumer behavior -- China.
Chinese -- Travel -- Australia.
Pages: xxiii, 415 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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