Why People Travel? Examining Perceived Benefits of Tourism



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It has been demonstrated that people often feel happier, healthier, and more relaxed after a vacation. However, there is still lack of research on how people perceive the benefits of travel and how these perceptions influence their travel behavior. Thus, the primary purpose of this research was to examine the effects of perceived tourism benefits on travel behavior based on the model of attitude importance.

Since existing scales of tourism benefits failed to incorporate some important items or factors, particularly the health benefits of tourism, this dissertation involved three online panel surveys, including: (1) a preliminary study (n=566) to elicit new benefit items, (2) a pilot study (n=434) to trim down the number of items, and (3) a main survey (n=559) to finalize the scale. As a result, several items associated with health benefits were elicited from the preliminary study; in the later stages of scale development, these items were identified and validated as a convergent dimension of perceived health benefits.

Further, several hypotheses pertaining to the effect of perceived tourism benefits and the applicability of the attitude-importance model in tourism were tested. The results showed that: (1) the premise of the attitude-importance model that important attitudes can instigate the process of knowledge accumulation was supported; (2) the applicability of the attitude-importance model in tourism was supported; (3) the three factors of perceived tourism benefits ? experiential, health, and relaxation benefits, had positive effects on travel behavior through attitude importance.

These results had theoretical and practical implications. First, while previous tourism studies on tourists? information search have tended to incorporate information search behavior in the context of vacation planning, this research demonstrated that the accumulation of product-related knowledge can be on a regular basis. Second, while previous tourism studies have a strong preference for the evaluative features of attitudes, this research demonstrated that attitude importance as a dimension of attitude strength is relevant in tourism. Finally, the experiential, health, and relaxation benefits were shown to have positive effects on travel behavior, which indicates that the tourism industry can encourage people to travel more by convincing them taking vacations is beneficial.