Direct Effects and Hypothesis
Tourism risk refers to “Crises in the tourism industry can take many shapes and forms: from terrorism to sexual harassment, white collar crime to civil disturbances, a jet crashing into a hotel to cash flow problems, guest injury to strikes, bribery to price fixing, noise to vandalism, guest misuse of facilities to technology change…” [10
]. In each of these cases, tourism risk can be categorized as either man-made or a natural disaster [11
]. Ritchie et al. (2014) noted that man-made tourism risk will increase the possibility and strength of a natural disaster and can affect the tourism industries and subindustries [8
]. In recent years, tourism has experienced many natural crises caused by man-made disasters. For example, the 2010 BP oil spill not only polluted the ecological environment of the Gulf Coast over a three-year period but also caused economic losses exceeding $23 billion and the loss of more than 400,000 travel industry jobs generating $34 billion in revenue annually [14
]. Thomalla et al. (2006) also suggested that the human activities of burning fossil fuel or coal fuel may lead to the expansion of the greenhouse referring to the persistent increase in global temperature and weather change [15
]. Therefore, due to human activities, the possibility of natural disasters has increased.
Man-made disasters include not only terrorist attacks and political instability but also intense traffic, sewage, litter, oil seepage and water quality [16
]. Pizam et al. (2006) asserted that man-made environmental pollution will influence tourists to visit an area less [14
]. The principles of sustainable management and environmentally responsible behavior have come to play a fundamental role in the environmental policies of countries worldwide, and these policies must be faced and updated immediately at an international and multidisciplinary level [17
]. Another man-made behavior that is seldom mentioned in previous tourism studies is that culture traditions can be directly affected by disaster. For example in 2014, the organization of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) destroyed at least 28 historical religious buildings and museums. ISIL’s activities not only seriously impacted the local and international tourism industry but also caused other countries to increase their military presence to protect valuable cultural goods. Ritchie (2004) suggested that social and cultural tourism are highly connected to tourists’ benefit evaluation of tourism’s value, learning, collective lifestyles, and safety levels [4
]. Therefore, tourism risks that are man-made are influenced not only by the level of perceived risk but also by tourists’ feeling and benefits.
Man-made tourism risks are positively related to natural disasters.
Man-made tourism risks are positively related to feeling experience.
Man-made tourism risks are positively related to tourist benefit.
A natural disaster refers to “an event, sudden or progressive, which impacts with such severity that the affected community has to respond by taking exceptional measures” [16
]. From an economic perspective, natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and cyclones affect their victims by causing economic losses and require increased time and attention from the government and tourism managers [16
]. Indeed, following the recent effects of global warming and unpredictable weather changes, the increased volume of global tourism activity also raised the impacts of natural disaster and exposed tourists to greater levels of risk [18
]. For example, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami not only led to the deaths of over 270,000 people, injured half a million, and caused severe financial hardships and job losses for residents but also affected Thailand’s, Sri Lanka’s and the Maldives’ tourism industry for several years [10
]. In the period after the tsunami, many flights and tours were cancelled, and tourists switched destinations. Overall, a high risk that a natural disaster will occur may deter tourists’ travel intentions. The proper management of natural disaster can be attractive for tourists and can provide local residents with economic benefits [3
The tourism risks of natural disasters are positively related to feeling experience.
Destination images can be identified as mental images accumulation about travel experiences; few impressions chosen from travel promotion advisement, books, movies or general media [19
], which refers to the unique features of the destination; and the holistic evaluation of the components of a destination that tourists consider (Shani and Wang, 2011; Zhang, Fu, Cai, and Lu, 2014). From the intra-disciplinary marketing perspective, tourism destination image (TDI) changes over time, which may raise based on nationality, residents’ receptiveness and landscape, and destination promotion strategies, which as an important attributes of influencing tourist’s travel decision and behavioral intention [22
]. Recent literature suggests that destination images were toward user-generated content (UGC), especially when social media grew dramatically, sources of destination information becoming more diversity and easy to access [23
]. San Martín and Del Bosque (2008) proposed that destination images reflect to tourists’ objective perceptions, motives, feeling, experiences and attitudes for destination evaluation [24
]. Simply, destination images can be seen as the sum of tourists’ objective views, thoughts, and impressions that a person has of a destination [20
] (p. 2). Positive internal and external attributes of a destination help tourists construct an “awareness,” and the “evoked” sets of attributes thus serve to differentiate the image destination evaluation factors between destinations that are competing for tourist decision-making behavior. Baloglu and McCleary (1999) asserted that an individual’s mental representation of knowledge, feelings, and impressions will influence their destination choice and their order of priorities when planning to promote tourism destination [13
]. Specifically, tourists’ perception, as a subjective concept, is formed by integrating the various information of the destination that they have received [24
]. In other words, perception reflect individual attitudes and feelings for destination, not only established their beliefs or knowledge about the place’s attributes, but also meaningful to the individual when making travel decision [25
]. San Martín and Del Bosque (2008) asserted that individual perception or emotions would be a critical part of internal forces of evoked by the destination image [24
]. Therefore, when making the travel decision, the stronger is the positive affective image of positive feeling about the destination, the greater is the intent to recommend the destination to friends [17
]. As such, this study proposes the following hypotheses:
Feeling experience is positively related to destination image.
Tourist benefit is positively related to destination image.
Tourist benefit and feeling experience as a mediator in the tourist risk-destination image relationship.
Given the complexity of the decision process for forming a destination image, it is often necessary for tourists to go beyond their evaluation of tourism risks to represent their feelings about the destination and their behavior [1
]. A number of empirical tourism studies have shown that tourists who identify with a destination image tend to devote extra effort to collecting information and enriching their knowledge to reduce risk and avoid a potential crisis in their individual feelings and behavior [2
]. When evaluation tourism activity and decision-making, perceived risk and safety concerns, such as disasters and crises may place the priority of destination ahead [18
]. In tourism risk assessment research, images of a destination are high correlate with risk perception. When tourists perceive uncertainties and possibility of various misfortunes, it might influence their willingness to visit the destination [26
]. Nevertheless, when tourists experience strong feelings, regardless of whether they are real or perceived, the presence of the emotion and past experiences has the potential to influence the destination image and, consequently, the travel judgments [11
]. Based on the above discussion, tourist risk should influence tourist destination image evaluation by mediating the feeling experience.
The literature has conceptualized tourism risk behavior as having the distinct dimensions of man-made and natural disaster behaviors. There is empirical evidence that these two dimensions have different antecedents and contribute independently to tourists’ destination selection and benefit, and a significant correlation between them is usually found [17
]. Kozak et al. (2007) suggested that tourists’ perceptions of the risks of man-made disasters are very likely to play a crucial role in their travel decisions and behavior. Indeed, natural disasters may damage the environment, but such damage is temporary [18
]. Man-made disasters cause permanent and serious damage. George and Swart (2012) further argued that man-made disasters may have even a detrimental effect on tourist benefit perception that will, in turn, impact the destination image [28
]. In recent years, when tourists make travel decision with friends or family, there has been increasing concern about man-made disasters when choosing a destination [18
]. Man-made disasters usually directly influence travel decision and benefits, and tourists thus often have greater concerns about them [1
]. This makes man-made disasters quite distinct from natural disasters and they thus have a different influence on tourist benefit. Thus, the dependent variable in this study is destination image based on tourists’ evaluations. As such, the following two separate mediation hypotheses were proposed to capture tourists’ feeling of risk and the consequential behaviors:
The tourism risks associated with both man-made and natural disasters are positively related to feeling experience, which, in turn, is positively related to destination image.
The tourism risks of man-made disasters are positively related to tourist benefit, which, in turn, will be positively related to destination image.
There are moderating effects of tourist benefit in the feeling experience-destination image relationship.
In addition to having a direct effect, tourist benefits are likely to influence the relationship between feeling experience and destination image. Tourism studies suggest that tourism benefits increase encourage tourists to increases their positive feelings about the destination image and thus conform to the external attributes of evaluation and valuing the destination’s international reputation [17
]. As discussed above, the feeling experience is a reflection of the tourist’s evaluation of a destination, which can increase their willingness to visit or their individual satisfaction. Similarly, when tourists perceive that they have benefited from past travel experiences or feelings, they are likely to become highly interested in future travel planning or destinations. This difference will determine the level of positive impact when identifying a tourism destination image. That is, the effect of the feeling experience on the tourist’s destination image evaluation will vary with the different levels of tourist benefit. This leads to the following hypothesis:
Tourist benefits moderates the relationship between feeling experience and destination image such that higher levels of tourist benefit are associated with a stronger feeling experience-destination experience.