Next Article in Journal
Sustainable Idea Development Mechanism in University Technology Commercialization (UTC): Perspectives from Dynamic Capabilities Framework
Next Article in Special Issue
Changes in Traditional Activities of Industrial Area toward Sustainable Tourism Development
Previous Article in Journal
Sustainable Growth Approaches: Quadruple Helix Approach for Turning Brașov into a Startup City
Previous Article in Special Issue
The Determinants of Income of Rural Women in Bangladesh
Open AccessArticle

Can the Quality of Hospitality Services Play a Role in Sustainable Equestrian Tourism in Slovenia? Mediations, Effects, and Implications

1
Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Maribor, Pivola 10, 2311 Hoče, Slovenia
2
Economics Institute a. d. Belgrade, Kralja Milana 16, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
3
Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Trg Dositeja Obradovića 3, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia
4
Institute of Sports, Tourism and Service, South Ural State University, 76 Lenin Ave., Chelyabinsk 454080, Russia
5
Geographical Institute “Jovan Cvijić” SASA, Djure Jakšića 9, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 6155; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11216155
Received: 28 September 2019 / Revised: 20 October 2019 / Accepted: 27 October 2019 / Published: 4 November 2019

Abstract

This study investigates the relationship between the quality of hospitality services and sustainable equestrian tourism development in Slovenia. The focus will be on the relations between equestrian tourism motivations, hospitality services quality, overall service quality, equestrian tourists’ satisfaction, and behavioral intentions. The target population was equestrian tourists who stayed in one of 30 tourism farms in Slovenia and used both accommodation and food and beverage services. Face-to-face surveys with convenience sampling were used for the data collection. The results show that equestrian tourism motivations are positively associated with both hospitality services quality and the overall service quality in equestrian tourism. Moreover, the overall service quality in equestrian tourism is positively related to equestrian tourists’ satisfaction, while equestrian tourists’ satisfaction is positively related to behavioral intentions. In addition, accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality both mediate the association between equestrian tourism motivation and overall satisfaction. The study provides both theoretical and practical implications. For one thing, it fills the research gaps present in the literature. In addition, it gives practical guidelines to farmers and tourism practitioners regarding equestrian tourism development as one of the popular areas of sustainable tourism development in rural settings.
Keywords: service quality; equestrian tourism; accommodation; behavioral intentions; sustainability service quality; equestrian tourism; accommodation; behavioral intentions; sustainability

1. Introduction

Hospitality services, such as accommodation and food and drink, are an essential part of the tourism product [1,2]. This means that there is no adequate tourism product without quality accommodation service and food and beverage service [3,4]. Hospitality services, therefore, present an integral part of every tourism product [5,6].
A necessary condition to participate in either tourism or sports activities is motivation [7]. Tourism motivation is a very popular topic in the scientific literature from the tourism field [8]. There have been many studies that have presented the most important aspects of tourism motivation [9,10], as well as in sports tourism [11]. Wann et al. [12] developed and tested a sport fan motivation scale (SFMS) to identify intrinsic and extrinsic sport spectators’ motivations, which was later modified by Daniels and Norman [13] for the purposes of equestrian tourism.
Equestrian tourism (so-called horse tourism or horse-based tourism) is a special type of tourism [14], usually very sustainable, to which more attention has been paid in the last two decades. Research in the area of equestrian tourism has included different topics, including betting [15], the history and structure of ownership and racing [16], the characteristics and behavior of equestrian tourists [17], their motivations [13], and the process of loyalty formulation in equestrian events [18]. Equestrian tourism has also been investigated as a part of local development strategies. Such studies aimed to identify equestrian tourism as a support tool for quality improvement in promoting tourism objectives [19], and to investigate the impacts of equestrian tourism development in national parks and protected areas as a part of sustainable development [20,21]. More attention was also given to the economic impact of equestrian tourism [22], including public strategies for local equestrian tourism development [23], treating equestrian tourism as a microcluster [24]. Equestrian tourism was also treated as an integral part of sustainable community tourism development models [25], as a part of domestic tourism strategies [26], or as a combination of two activities in relation to other kinds of tourism or hospitality activities [27,28].
In spite of researchers’ interest in equestrian tourism and the impact of hospitality services quality on the overall tourism experience, too little space has been given to the sustainable role of quality hospitality services in equestrian tourism, particularly to accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality and their possible mediating effect. Therefore, the main aim of this study was to investigate how equestrian tourists’ motivation is associated with the service quality. This study also has three specific objectives:
(a)
to assess the relationship between equestrian tourism motivations and both accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality;
(b)
to measure the mediating roles of both accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality on the association between equestrian tourists’ motivation and service quality; and
(c)
to test the association between these constructs: overall service quality, value, overall satisfaction, and behavioral intentions in equestrian tourism.
This study has both theoretical and practical perspectives. On the one hand, it investigates potentially significant influences of equestrian tourism motivations, which increase both the overall service quality and the accommodation and food and beverage service quality. This relationship may reveal the behavioral intentions, especially in the area of tourists’ loyalty. This study, therefore, suggests how motivation affects behavioral intentions in the equestrian tourism area and its sustainability. On the other hand, this study helps practitioners in equestrian tourism to manage different aspects of integrated tourism product in equestrian tourism, in order to provide quality accommodation and food and beverage services to equestrian tourists.

Literature Review

Explaining the motivation in sports and recreation activities, Bernthal and Graham [29] stated that people are motivated based on the specific sport. Talking about equestrian tourism, Daniels and Norman [13] modified the 23-item SFMS scale for the purpose of equestrian tourism to a 20-item scale with seven dimensions: escape, eustress, aesthetics, self-esteem, group affiliation, entertainment, and family. They also determined the relationship between sport identification and fan motivation and investigated differences in equestrian tourists’ motivations in terms of sex. In her Australian study, Buchmann [26] identifies a variety of motivations of equestrian tourists, such as experiencing a variety of skills in horseback riding, staying up to date with the latest developments in horseback riding, being able to take time off work, getting away from it all, having the opportunity to progress in horsemanship, meeting like-minded people, and networking.
Kline et al. [25] identified equestrian trail riders’ perceptions and attitudes about equestrian tourism development in a local community. According to the results presented, the main areas for equestrian tourism development are marketing, education, and support from officials, organization and development of additional trails. Studies conducted by Schmudde [21] and Pickel-Chevalier [20] present equestrian tourism as a potential method of regional sustainable development. Sigurdardottir [28] states that the future of equestrian tourism development is in combination with wellness tourism, especially combining slow adventure, wellness, and outdoor recreation in Iceland.
In the literature, there are a few studies related to the quality in equestrian tourism. Helgadottir and Siguardardottir [22] included interviews with horse farm owners involved in equestrian tourism and a survey of their business practices. According to the results, their concept of quality was based on the horsemanship, quality of horses, and riding skills rather than standards and measures of tourism quality. Researchers also state that in equestrian tourism tourists arrive with traveling companions or friends. This is why the concept of quality in equestrian tourism differs from that of the hospitality industry in general [22]. Sigurdardottir and Helgadottir [30] investigated customers’ satisfaction and visitors’ attitudes to several aspects of the service quality in equestrian tourism: staff performance, horses, riding trails, facilities, and riding gear. The authors identified the important factors, which correlate to customer satisfaction in equestrian tourism. In the study presented by Akhoondnejad [18], the determinants of tourists’ loyalty in horse tourism are presented. Concepts used in this study are the effects of event quality, event value, tourists’ emotion, tourists’ satisfaction, and tourists’ loyalty. The presented results show that the most important predictors of tourists’ loyalty in equestrian tourism are event quality, event value, and tourist satisfaction.
Despite the fact that equestrian tourism motivations and service quality in equestrian tourism are concepts that have already been widely researched, the relationship between equestrian tourists’ motivation, value, overall service quality, and behavioral intentions regarding tourists’ loyalty has not been explored. The potential mediating role of accommodation quality and food and beverage service quality in equestrian tourism on the mentioned relationship is still not sufficiently presented in the literature. The importance of hospitality service quality (accommodation service and food and beverage service) in equestrian tourism is still not researched enough, either. To fill the mentioned research gaps as well as to test whether the concept of quality in equestrian tourism is based on passion and skill with horses and people, that is horsemanship, rather than business acumen, as proposed by Helgadottir and Siguardardottir [22], six hypotheses put forward by similar studies [31,32] are projected.
Hypothesis 1.
Motivations of equestrian tourism will positively influence the overall service quality.
Hypothesis 2.
Motivations of equestrian tourism will positively influence the accommodation service quality.
Hypothesis 3.
Motivations of equestrian tourism will positively influence the food and beverage service quality.
Hypothesis 4.
Both accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality in equestrian tourism mediate the association between equestrian tourists’ motivations and overall service quality.
Hypothesis 5.
High perceptions of overall service quality in equestrian tourism will positively influence the overall satisfaction with equestrian tourism.
Hypothesis 6.
Higher satisfaction levels will positively affect the future behavioral intentions of equestrian tourists.
Figure 1 shows the proposed research model.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Sampling and Data Collection

The target population of this research are domestic and foreign equestrian tourists to Slovenian tourist farms who used hospitality services, both accommodation service and food and beverage service. As proposed by Helgadottir and Siguardardottir [22], one of the two main core products in horse-based tourism is farm-stay tourism or agritourism, and for that reason we chose tourism farms in Slovenia as the research setting. Self-selected sampling was used as a method for data collection because it was the most efficient way to find appropriate units (equestrian tourists) who meet this specific tourism market niche (equestrian tourism) in a short time period. Also, by using this sampling method, equestrian tourists’ greater interest in taking a part in a survey was shown. The data were collected on 30 Slovenian tourist farms from 15 July to 15 August 2018. All the questionnaires were sealed during the distribution process. The sample respondents had all used the hospitality services at any of 30 equestrian tourism farms. In this sample, 15 farms were chosen randomly from the West Cohesive Slovenian Region and 15 farms were chosen randomly from the Eastern Slovenian Cohesive Region. The farms’ owners helped distribute the self-administered questionnaires to their equestrian tourist guests. They asked the guests to fill out the questionnaires during their farm stay and to return it completed to the farmers during the checkout process. There were 600 questionnaires (20 questionnaires on each farm) that were distributed during the research process, out of which 457 (76.17%) were returned during the one-month response period. There were also 13 questionnaires that were incomplete or contained unsuitable results, so the sampling size used in this research was 444, which is in accordance with Hair’s et al. [33] suggestion regarding the minimum sample size. The total usable response rate was therefore 74%.

2.2. Measurements

A survey questionnaire was constructed based on the detailed literature review. In the first section of the questionnaire, respondents were asked to answer questions about the hospitality services quality of the tourism farm they visited. To exclude respondents who were not part of the target population of this study, the eliminatory question was: During your stay on the farm, will you take part in any equestrian tourism activities? If the answer to this question was positive, that person would become a respondent of this study.
Accommodation service quality was measured using seven sub-dimensions (constructs) developed by Clemes et al. [5]. Some of the questions were modified to fit the context of this research. The subdimensions used are farm tangibles, room cleanliness and comfort, parking, noise level, security, location, and overall pleasantness of stay. Food and beverage service quality was measured using two subdimensions, the food quality and the physical environment of the dining area, developed by Meng and Elliott [3] and partly modified to fit the context of equestrian tourism. To measure the overall service quality, equestrian tourists’ satisfaction, and behavioral intentions, the scales developed by Clemes et al. [5] were used and partly modified according to the context of this research (Table 1).
The second section included questions about the respondents’ motivations to participate in equestrian tourism activities. Equestrian tourists’ motivation was measured using a 20-item scale developed by Daniels and Norman [13]. All the items were measured with a seven-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree). The final section of the questionnaire was related to tourists’ demographic information (Table 1).
The questionnaire was first pre-tested on 29 tourists. The main purpose was to obtain feedback from tourists regarding the readability and wording, and to determine all the weaknesses related to the questionnaire design and instrumentation. The other purpose of the pre-testing was to investigate its reliability. Based on the feedback, some minor grammatical changes were made to increase the questionnaire’s readability.

2.3. Data Analysis

The first stage in the data analysis was a data screening, with the aim of investigating whether there were outliers or missing values, and the data’s suitability for future analysis. Harman’s single factor test was used for testing common method variance [33]. In this research, descriptive statistics were used to obtain data about tourists’ demographic characteristics. To test the proposed research hypothesis, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling analysis were used. SPSS 24 and AMOS 24 were used for the data analysis.

3. Results

3.1. Profile of Respondents

In Table 2, the demographic characteristics of the respondents are presented. There were more male respondents (57%) than female ones (43%). The respondents were mainly 30‒39 years of age, followed by those 40‒49 years old; together the two groups represented 61.7% of the sample population. There are 30% fewer single than married respondents in this sample. Respondents mainly had a high monthly gross income (47%), and were from foreign countries (69.8%). The leading level of education was a Bachelor’s degree (34.5% of the sample population), while the least represented level of education was PhD, comprising only 3.1% of the sample population.

3.2. Measurement Model

Harman’s single factor test for common method variance was used. For each group of questions, a separate EFA (Exploratory factor analysis) was conducted. With the solution rotated, the groups, such as MOTIVATIONS and ACCOMMODATION SERVICE QUALITY, generated seven constructs. On the other hand, the group FOOD AND BEVERAGE SERVICE QUALITY generated two constructs, while the rest of the groups generated only one construct each. The first factor in all the conducted EFA explained between 33.9% and 69.7% of the total variance, so it can be concluded that common method variance was a limited concern.
For the measurement, CFA was used. All items were included because their factor loadings were higher than the minimum proposed value of 0.5 [34]. The overall model fit was adequate according to the results of CFA: χ2(280) = 117.355 (p < 0.001), χ2/df = 1.506, comparative fit index (CFI) = 0.923, goodness of fit index (GFI) = 0.923, root mean square residual (RMR) = 0.041, and root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) = 0.049. The factor loadings of all the constructs were from 0.729 to 0.854 and explained a large part of the variance. Also, the composite reliability for all the constructs was higher than 0.70 and the convergent validity was good. The discriminant validity was also supported, because all of the average variance extracted values (AVE) are higher than the squared interfactor correlations [34,35], as presented in Table 1.

3.3. Structural Model

For the proposed model validation presented in Figure 1, structural equation modeling with a maximum likelihood method was used. The model fit is reasonable, according to the presented results: χ2 = 297.650, df = 699 (p < 0.001), χ2/df = 425.822, CFI = 0.912, RMR = 0.051, RMSEA = 0.095.
Figure 2 presents the results for testing hypotheses. Equestrian tourists’ motivation is positively related to ASQ (GAMA = 0.445, p < 0.01) and F&BSQ (GAMA = 0.552, p < 0.01), as well as to SQ (β = 0.497, p < 0.01). Both ASQ (β = 0.393, p < 0.01) and F&BSQ (β = 0.484, p < 0.01) are positively associated with the service quality. These relationships show that the level of ASQ and F&BSQ that equestrian tourists perceive is related to their level of perceived SQ. According to these results, null hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 are accepted.
Also, SQ is positively associated with guest satisfaction (β = 0.872, p < 0.01), and guest satisfaction is positively associated with their behavioral intentions (β = 0.673, p < 0.01). This means that if tourists perceive the service quality to be high, they will be more satisfied, and if they are more satisfied, they will wish to be involved in equestrian tourism again. Hypotheses 5 and 6 are therefore accepted.

3.4. The Mediating Effect of Accommodation Service Quality and Food and Beverage Service Quality

According to MacKinnon [36], the amount of mediation indicates the indirect effect. The direct effect of equestrian tourists’ motivation on SQ was 0.497, while its indirect effect was 0.432 (0.445 × 0.484 + 0.552 × 0.393). Accordingly, the total effect of equestrian tourists’ motivation was 0.929 (0.497 + 0.432). Thus, 53.4% was direct, while 46.5% was indirect. According to these results, equestrian tourists’ motivation is directly associated with service quality. Equestrian tourists’ motivation also increases the service quality indirectly by triggering ASQ and F&BSQ. For testing the significance level of the mediating effect, the Sobel test was used. According to the Sobel test result, it can be concluded that there is a statistically significant mediating effect of both ASQ and F&BSQ (t = 4.239, p < 0.001), and hypothesis 4 is accepted.
Information about research hypothesis verification is presented in Table 3.

4. Discussion

This study aimed to understand the relationships between equestrian tourism motivations and sustainable hospitality service quality, overall service quality, equestrian tourists’ satisfaction, value, and behavioral intentions. Although there were a few studies that researched the concept of the service quality in equestrian tourism [22,30], the mentioned relationships in equestrian tourism had not been investigated yet.
The results of this study showed that equestrian tourists’ motivation is positively related to the overall service quality, food and beverage service quality, and accommodation service quality. Equestrian tourists who feel a higher level of any dimension of equestrian tourists’ motivations (escape, eustress, aesthetics, self-esteem, group affiliation, entertainment, and family) will rate F&BSQ, ASQ, and OSQ more highly than others with a lower level of motivation. These results are in line with similar research [37,38,39]. At the same time, the relationships between ASQ and OSQ and F&BSQ and OSQ are positive and statistically significant, which further confirms the importance of hospitality services quality in the evaluation of the overall service quality. Similar relationships in the motel industry were investigated in the study by Clemes et al. [5], as well as in studies conducted by other authors on other types of tourism [4,6,40].
Overall service quality in equestrian tourism had a positive correlation with equestrian tourists’ satisfaction, and equestrian tourists’ satisfaction was positively related to their behavioral intentions regarding loyalty. The overall service quality therefore had a direct, positive, and statistically significant impact on equestrian tourists’ loyalty. The same relationship of constructs is presented in the study by Clemes et al. [5].
Both ASQ and F&BSQ are statistically significant mediators of the cause‒effect relationship between equestrian tourists’ motivation and overall service quality perception. These results are consistent with previous research [2,4,6]. Once again, it is confirmed that the quality of hospitality services such as accommodation and food and drink plays a very important role in how tourists evaluate the overall service quality [5].
This research has both theoretical and practical implications. Regarding the theoretical implications, it fills previous gaps in the research and explains the influences of equestrian tourists’ motivation on their overall perception of service quality, as well as on their perceptions of the quality of hospitality services, accommodation services, and food and beverage services. This study also presents how equestrian tourists’ perception of overall service quality influences their satisfaction and potential behavioral intentions in the equestrian tourism field. Similar studies [5,18] have explained such relationships, but not in the field of equestrian tourism.
Moreover, this study treats perceptions of hospitality services quality as a first-line mediator of the cause‒effect relationship between equestrian tourism motivation and, less importantly, as an effect of equestrian tourists’ motivations. These findings show that the level of equestrian tourism motivation has a strong impact on tourists’ perception of accommodation service quality and food and beverage service quality on a tourism farm. Equestrian tourists’ motivation also has both a direct and an indirect significant impact on the overall service quality in equestrian tourism, while perceptions of hospitality services quality mediate this statistically significant relationship.
This research also has a few practical implications. Farmers and practitioners in the tourism industry could use this research in the process of strategic planning for sustainable equestrian tourism development. This study also helps with knowledge improvement for understanding the factors needed for quality equestrian tourism product development. Equestrian tourists who decide to visit a tourism farm again help to improve a tourism farm’s business results and to move them towards their future sustainability goals.
The results of this study show that improving equestrian tourists’ perceptions of hospitality services quality advances their behavioral intentions regarding loyalty to equestrian tourism activities. Accordingly, farmers should always make an effort to provide quality accommodation and food and beverage service to equestrian tourists. As mentioned before, equestrian tourists have multiple accommodation options, one of them being tourism farms. The proposed model in this study may be a useful basis for identifying similar relationships in other accommodation facilities used by equestrian tourists.
Talking about the concept of sustainable equestrian tourism, Pickel-Chevalier [20] reported that it plays an important role in sustainable tourism development in rural settings. This specific tourism niche always goes together with some other form of sustainable tourism development to fulfill economic, social, and environmental criteria, such as cultural tourism, nature tourism, soft adventure tourism, ecotourism, or sports tourism [41].
Hospitality services quality on agritourism farms with equestrian tourism, therefore, fits into sustainable criteria such as local development and employment, especially for women and young population in rural areas, and social cohesion by involving the tourist population in everyday activities. Farmers are an important stakeholder in equestrian tourism development [42], and hospitality services presents an essential part of quality equestrian tourism products. Therefore, the presented model proposes crucial aspects of hospitality services quality to ensure the sustainable development of farms offering local food and beverage products and accommodation. Local, sustainable equestrian tourism development enables the tourism development of the rural area and improves the quality of life for both tourists and farmers [43,44].

Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research

Although this study has both theoretical and practical implications, there are a few limitations, which point to the potential for future research. The identified subdimensions of ASQ and F&BSQ are suitable only for tourism farms and may not be applicable to all hospitality facilities. For other types of accommodation used by equestrian tourists, it would be necessary to revise the subdimensions and potentially include some others. Those dimensions may also vary across different cultures. The equestrian tourists participating in this study stayed at one of the tourism farms in Slovenia. This may limit the ability to generalize the results because they could be different in other cultural settings. The third limitation is related to the number of other predictors and moderators of the overall satisfaction, which are not included in this study (e.g., farm image, previous visits, sports activities offered on the farm). The fourth important research disadvantage is the limited data regarding the described market of equestrian tourism in Slovenia (number of entities, characteristics, sales volume, etc.) because there are no official statistics in Slovenia to collect data about this important tourism market niche. Finally, one of the most important limitations of this study is its self-selected sampling method basis, which may lead to it being unrepresentative of the population.
Future research should use the presented modeling approach to measure the importance of ASQ and F&BSQ for equestrian tourists who stayed in different types of accommodation (e.g., sport hotels, motels, apartments). It is also recommended that future studies employ a qualitative approach, such as focus groups and/or interviews, to get a deeper understanding of equestrian tourists’ motivations, the different dimensions of hospitality services quality in equestrian tourism, and tourists’ behavioral intentions. Future research should also include other constructs, proposed above, that were not included in this study.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, L.P. and I.B.; methodology, L.P.; software, J.P.; validation, M.D.P., M.M.R. and J.P.; formal analysis, L.P.; investigation, J.P.; resources, I.B.; data curation, J.P.; writing—original draft preparation, L.P.; writing—review and editing, M.D.P. and M.M.R.; visualization, L.P. and J.P.; supervision, M.D.P., J.P., I.B. and M.M.R.; funding acquisition, J.P.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Acknowledgments

The research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Serbia (Grant nos. III 47007 and III 46001).

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Lockyer, T.; Roberts, L. Motel accommodation: Trigger points to guest accommodation selection. Int. J. Contemp. Hosp. Manag. 2010, 21, 24–37. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Wu, S.; Chen, J. Comparison between hotels and motels using CRM effect model—An empirical study in Taiwan. Int. J. Hosp. Manag. 2012, 31, 1254–1263. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  3. Meng, J.; Elliott, K. Predictors of relationship quality for luxury restaurants. J. Retail. Consum. Serv. 2008, 15, 509–515. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Ariffin, A.; Maghzi, A. A preliminary study on customer expectations of hotel hospitality: Influences of personal and hotel factors. Int. J. Hosp. Manag. 2012, 31, 191–198. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Clemes, M.; Gan, C.; Ren, M. Synthesizing the effects of service quality, value, and customer satisfaction on behavioral intentions in the motel industry: An empirical analysis. J. Hosp. Tour. Res. 2011, 35, 530–568. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  6. Baksi, A.; Parida, B. Am Empirical Study to Link CRM Initiatives with Service Quality Perception, Tourist Satisfaction and Destination Loyalty. Int. J. Hosp. Tour. Syst. 2013, 6, 64–80. [Google Scholar]
  7. Vidon, E.; Rickly, J. Alienation and anxiety in tourism motivation. Ann. Tour. Res. 2018, 69, 65–75. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Demirović, D.; Radovanović, M.; Petrović, M.D.; Cimbaljević, M.; Vukasanović, N.; Vuković, D.B. Environmental and Community Stability of a Mountain Destination: An Analysis of Residents’ Perception. Sustainability 2018, 10, 70. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  9. Šumkova, E.; Holzner, J. Motivation of Tourism Participants. Procedia Soc. Behav. Sci. 2014, 159, 660–664. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Soldatenko, D.; Backer, E. A content analysis of cross-cultural motivational studies in tourism relating to nationalities. J. Hosp. Tour. Manag. 2019, 38, 122–139. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Kim, E.; Fredline, L.; Cuskelly, G. Heterogeneity of sport event volunteer motivations: A segmentation approach. Tour. Manag. 2018, 68, 375–386. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  12. Wann, D.; Schrader, M.; Wison, A. Sport fan motivation: Questionnaire validation, comparisons by sport and relationship to athletic motivation. J. Sport Behav. 1999, 22, 114–139. [Google Scholar]
  13. Daniels, M.; Norman, W. Motivations of equestrian tourists: An analysis of the colonial cup races. J. Sport Tour. 2005, 10, 201–210. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Petrović, M.D.; Vujko, A.; Gajić, T.; Vuković, D.B.; Radovanović, M.; Jovanović, J.M.; Vuković, N. Tourism as an Approach to Sustainable Rural Development in Post-Socialist Countries: A Comparative Study of Serbia and Slovenia. Sustainability 2018, 10, 54. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  15. Stein, W.; Mizzi, P. An analysis of exotic wagers in a pari-mutuel setting. Appl. Econ. 2003, 35, 415–421. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  16. Tolson, J.; Vamplew, W. Facilitation not revolution: Railways and British flat racing 1830–1914. Sport Hist. 2003, 23, 89–106. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Brown, D. Perception differences among visitor groups: The case of horse-attraction versus other-attraction tourist markets in Lexington, Kentucky. J. Vacat. Mark. 2003, 45, 174–187. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Akhoondnejad, A. Loyalty formation process of tourists in sporting event: The case of Turkmen horse races. J. Hosp. Tour. Manag. 2018, 34, 48–57. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  19. Ioana, B.; Ioan, P.; Cosmin, S.; Bochis, F. Equestrian tourism—Supporting tool for quality improvement in promoting tourism objectives. Lucr. Stintifice Ser. 2013, 1, 136–139. [Google Scholar]
  20. Pickel-Chevalier, S. Can equestrian tourism be a solution for sustainable tourism development in France? Soc. Leis. 2015, 38, 110–134. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  21. Schmudde, R. Equestrian Tourism in National Parks and Protected Areas in Iceland—An Analysis of the Environmental and Social Impacts. Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2015, 15, 91–104. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  22. Helgadottir, G.; Siguardardottir, I. Hose-based Tourism: Community, Quality and Disinterest in Economic Value. Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2008, 8, 105–121. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  23. Hautobis, C.; Durand, C. Public strategies for local development: The effectiveness of an outdoor activities model. Manag. Leis. 2004, 9, 212–226. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  24. Sigurdardottir, I.; Steinthrsson, R. Development of micro-clusters in tourism: A case of equestrian tourism in northeast Iceland. Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2018, 18, 261–277. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  25. Kline, C.; Cardenas, D.; Viren, P.; Swanson, J. Using a community tourism development model to explore equestrian trail tourism potential in Virginia. J. Destin. Mark. Manag. 2015, 4, 79–87. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  26. Buchmann, A. Insights into domestic horse tourism: The case study of Lake Macquarie, NSW, Australia. Curr. Issues Tour. 2014, 20, 261–277. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  27. Mijatov, M.; Pantelić, M.; Dragin, A.; Perić, M.; Marković, S. Application of sustainable development principles in hotel business. J. Geogr. Inst. Jovan Cvijić Sasa 2018, 68, 101–117. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  28. Sigurdardottir, I. Wellness and equestrian tourism—New kind of adventure? Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2018, 18, 377–392. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  29. Bernthal, M.; Graham, P. The effects of a sport setting on fan attendance motivation: The case of minor league vs. collegiate baseball. J. Sport Behav. 2003, 26, 223–239. [Google Scholar]
  30. Sigurdardottir, I.; Helgadottir, G. Riding High: Quality and Customer Satisfaction in Equestrian Tourism in Iceland. Scand. J. Hosp. Tour. 2015, 15, 105–121. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  31. Jeong, Y.; Kim, S.; Yu, J. Determinants of Behavioral Intentions in the Context of Sport Tourism with the Aim of Sustaining Sporting Destinations. Sustainability 2019, 11, 3073. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  32. Prayag, G.; Lee, C. Tourist motivation and place attachment: The mediating effects of service interactions with hotel employees. J. Travel Tour. Mark. 2019, 36, 90–106. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  33. Hair, J.; Black, W.; Babin, B.; Anderson, R.; Tatham, R. Multivariate Data Analysis, 6th ed.; Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA, 2006; pp. 112–147. [Google Scholar]
  34. Podsakoff, P.; MacKenzie, S.; Lee, J.; Podsakoff, N. Common method bias in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. J. Appl. Psychol. 2003, 88, 879–903. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  35. Fornell, C.; Larcker, D. Structural equation models with unobservable variables and measurement error: Algebra and statistics. J. Mark. Res. 1981, 18, 382–388. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  36. MacKinnon, D. Introduction to Statistical Mediation Analysis; Routledge: New York, NY, USA, 2008; pp. 7–23. [Google Scholar]
  37. Rozman, Č.; Potočnik, M.; Pažek, K.; Borec, A.; Majkovič, D.; Bohanec, M. A multi-criteria assessment of tourist farm service quality. Tour. Manag. 2009, 30, 629–637. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Wong, B.; Musa, G.; Taha, A. Malaysia my second home: The influence of push and pull motivations on satisfaction. Tour. Manag. 2017, 61, 394–410. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  39. Xu, Z.; Zhang, H.; Zhang, C.; Xu, M.; Dong, N. Exploring the Role of Emotion in the Relationship Between Museum Image and Tourists’ Behavioral Intention: The Case of Three Museums in Xi’an. Sustainability 2019, 11. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  40. Albayrak, T.; Caber, M. Examining the relationship between tourist motivation and satisfaction by two competing methods. Tour. Manag. 2018, 69, 201–213. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  41. Motchell, R.; Schuster, L.; Jin, H. Gamification and the impact of extrinsic motivation on needs satisfaction: Making work fun? J. Bus. Stud. 2019. In press. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  42. Buckley, R.C. Sustainable tourism: Research and reality. Ann. Tour. Res. 2012, 39, 528–546. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  43. Riding to Sustainable Rural Development? Promising Elements of Sustainable Practices in Equine Tourism. Available online: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01573225 (accessed on 22 September 2019).
  44. Konyves, E.; Suta, E. The Importance of Equestrian Tourism Enterprises in Tourism Destination Management in Hungary. Appl. Stud. Agribus. Commer. 2009, 3, 25–28. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
Figure 1. The proposed research model. Note: M = Motivation; ASQ = Accommodation Service Quality; F&BSQ = Food and Beverage Service Quality; SQ = Overall Service Quality; TS = Tourists’ Satisfaction; BI = Behavioral Intentions.
Figure 1. The proposed research model. Note: M = Motivation; ASQ = Accommodation Service Quality; F&BSQ = Food and Beverage Service Quality; SQ = Overall Service Quality; TS = Tourists’ Satisfaction; BI = Behavioral Intentions.
Sustainability 11 06155 g001
Figure 2. Results of structural equation modeling analysis. Note: M1 = Escape; M2 = Eustress; M3 = Aesthetics; M4 = Self-esteem; M5 = Group affiliation; M6 = Entertainment; M7 = Family; M = Motivations; ASQ = Accommodation service quality; ASQ1 = Farm tangibles; ASQ2 = Room cleanliness and comfort; ASQ3 = Parking; ASQ4 = Noise level; ASQ5 = Security; ASQ6 = Location; ASQ7 = Pleasant stay; F&BSQ = Food and beverage service quality; F&BSQ1 = Physical environment; F&BSQ2 = Food quality; OSQ = Overall service quality; TS = Equestrian tourists’ satisfaction; BI = Behavioral intentions. * p < 0,.05; ** p < 0.01.
Figure 2. Results of structural equation modeling analysis. Note: M1 = Escape; M2 = Eustress; M3 = Aesthetics; M4 = Self-esteem; M5 = Group affiliation; M6 = Entertainment; M7 = Family; M = Motivations; ASQ = Accommodation service quality; ASQ1 = Farm tangibles; ASQ2 = Room cleanliness and comfort; ASQ3 = Parking; ASQ4 = Noise level; ASQ5 = Security; ASQ6 = Location; ASQ7 = Pleasant stay; F&BSQ = Food and beverage service quality; F&BSQ1 = Physical environment; F&BSQ2 = Food quality; OSQ = Overall service quality; TS = Equestrian tourists’ satisfaction; BI = Behavioral intentions. * p < 0,.05; ** p < 0.01.
Sustainability 11 06155 g002
Table 1. Measurement items, factor loadings, and AVE.
Table 1. Measurement items, factor loadings, and AVE.
ConstructsItemsFactor LoadingsComposite ReliabilityAVE
Escape3 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.7350.9250.756
Eustress3 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.7750.9230.800
Aesthetics2 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.8541.0001.000
Self-esteem3 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.7310.7860.555
Group affiliations3 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.8011.0001.000
Entertainment4 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.8290.8580.609
Family2 items by Daniels & Norman [13]0.7991.0001.000
Farm tangibles7 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7300.7200.590
Room cleanliness and comfort11 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7290.8780.705
Parking4 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.8010.8620.675
Noise level3 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.8110.8200.695
Security2 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7691.0001.000
Location3 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7450.8950.733
Pleasantness of stay4 items by [5]0.7560.8760.786
Physical environment of the dining area3 items by Meng & Elliott [3]0.7880.7970.542
Food quality4 items by Meng & Elliott [3]0.8000.8850.562
Overall service quality3 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7450.8340.558
Equestrian tourists’ satisfaction4 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7330.8070.659
Behavioral intentions3 items by Clemes et al. [5]0.7470.8440.704
Table 2. Demographic and travel characteristics of respondents (N = 444).
Table 2. Demographic and travel characteristics of respondents (N = 444).
Demographic VariablesFrequencyPercentage
Gender
Male25357.0
Female19143.0
Age (years)
18–299320.9
30–3917238.7
40–4910223.0
50–595412.2
60+235.2
Marital status
Married28965.0
Single15535.0
Education
Secondary school11726.4
Higher vocational school8920.0
Bachelor’s degree15334.5
Master’s degree7116.0
PhD degree143.1
Country of origin
Slovenia13430.2
Foreign tourist31069.8
Monthly gross income (€)
≤100010223.0
1001 to 150013330.0
>150020947.0
Table 3. Verification of the research hypotheses.
Table 3. Verification of the research hypotheses.
HypothesisR2Sig.Result
H117.3340.001Accepted
H28.2450.001Accepted
H313.4370.001Accepted
H511.6830.001Accepted
H69.2270.001Accepted
Hypothesist-ValueSig.Result
H44.2390.001Accepted
Back to TopTop