Chinese Outbound Tourists: Understanding Their Attitudes, Constraints and Use of Information Sources

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Tourism Management 30 (2009) 483–494

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Tourism Management
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Chinese Outbound tourists: Understanding their attitudes, constraints and use of information sources Beverley Sparks a, *, Grace Wen Pan b,1
a b

Tourism, Leisure, Hotel & Sport Management, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, PMB 50, GCMC, Qld. 9726, Australia Head, Travel and Leisure Research, ACNielsen China, the Nielsen Company, 2/F, 618 Yan’an East Road, East Ocean Commercial Centre (II), Shanghai, 200001, P.R. China

a r t i c l e i n f o
Article history: Received 6 February 2008 Accepted 5 October 2008 Keywords: Chinese outbound tourists Attitudes Travel constraints Information sources Theory of planned behaviour

a b s t r a c t
Drawing upon Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) a survey was developed and implemented in Shanghai, China to investigate potential Chinese outbound tourists’ values in terms of destination attributes, as well as attitudes toward international travel. Five destination attributes were rated as most important by this potential group of tourists and included the natural beauty and icons of a destination, quality infrastructure, autonomy, inspirational motives and social self-enhancement. In terms of predicting intentions to travel, social normative influences and perceived levels of personal control constraints were most influential based on TPB. The use of information sources in seeking information about a destination was also investigated. The evidence obtained suggests that television programs are an important source of information used by Chinese people to learn about target destinations. The role of the Internet as an information source was also shown to be substantial and stands to have a stronger impact over time. Ó 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Background The Chinese population is growing in affluence, with outbound travel continuing to climb as more people can afford the luxury of tourism experiences. It has been predicted that outbound travel from China will grow to somewhere in the vicinity of 100 million by 2020 (World Tourism Organization, 2003). Despite this enormous potential, relatively little research has been conducted into the attitudes toward travel of potential Mainland Chinese outbound tourists. Some exceptions include outbound travel to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand (e.g. Cai, Boger, & O’Leary, 1999; Huang & Hsu, 2005). Our paper, drawing upon attitudinal theory, collected data from potential Mainland Chinese outbound tourists in order to profile tourist preferences, beliefs, attitudes, constraints and sources of influence with a link to travel intentions. The target destination used for this research was Australia. Reasons for choosing Australia as a target destination for Chinese tourists are presented in the following section. The specific aims of the paper include: investigating a destination importance attitudinal model for Chinese tourists considering international travel; providing a comparison of the attribute importance model with belief perceptions of Australia as a destination; conducting an

evaluation of information sources used by potential Chinese tourists; and investigating how information sources influence destination perceptions. 2. Literature review 2.1. Chinese tourists According to official figures, China had a population of 1.3 billion early in 2005 (Chinese Statistical Yearbook has the population for the end of 2004 at 1.29988 billion and the end of 2005 at 1.20756 billion). The opportunity for Chinese to travel outside Mainland China for leisure travel purposes is fairly recent. However, Chinese in the middle and top incomes are already starting to consider travel a ‘birthright’ (World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 2006, p. 15) and there have been an increasing number of Chinese taking outbound trips (China National Tourism Administration,...
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