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The role of culture in sustainable tourist behaviour in Thailand

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Jaratmetakul, P ORCID: 0000-0002-5954-2379 2020 , 'The role of culture in sustainable tourist behaviour in Thailand', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Sustainable tourism, especially its environmental dimension, is a topic of great significance, and concerns balancing the number of tourists and the development of tourism infrastructure. Many scholars and practitioners discuss sustainability and the management of the environmental impacts of tourism, as tourist behaviour may directly or indirectly impact the destination environment (Lee, Jan & Yang 2013a). One factor that has been under-used in the study of sustainable tourism behaviour is culture. Culture can have a strong impact on behaviour, and a large number of studies have focused on culture at a national or societal level. However, less research has explored culture at the individual level, that is, the extent to which the individual displays certain cultural characteristics. Yoo, Donthu and Lenartowicz (2011) state that culture at the individual level can be a useful approach for market segmentation, and as stated, there is a deficit of research of the significance of culture in sustainable tourist behaviour at this level. Understanding tourists’ cultural characteristics and background at the individual level could benefit and link to tourists’ attitudes and behaviour.
This study aims to develop a new model of the relationship between cultural characteristics, tourist attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control, perceptions of Thailand’s destination image and sustainable tourist behaviour. The primary objective of the study is to develop a conceptual framework to explain the relationship between individual culture, as measured using Hofstede’s (2001) framework, and sustainable tourist behaviour. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) and destination image are also used as theoretical bases for the research. Tourist attitudes, divided into the three components of cognition (environmental knowledge), affect (New Ecological Paradigm) and past behaviour, are used as mediators of the relationship between the individual’s cultural characteristics and sustainable tourist behaviour. Subjective norms, perceived behavioural control and destination image are examined as moderators of the relationship.
The study employed a quantitative research methodology, using self-administered questionnaires via an onsite intercept in national parks in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Data from 485 international and domestic tourists were collected. The results showed the five Hofstede cultural dimensions were related to sustainable tourist behaviour. Uncertainty avoidance was the strongest predictor of sustainable tourist behaviour, followed by power distance, masculinity/femininity and long-term orientation. Mediation and moderation effects were found for environmental knowledge and the New Ecological Paradigm as mediators, and subjective norms, perceived behavioural control, and destination image as moderators.
The findings advance knowledge in marketing and sustainable tourism by offering a theoretical explanation for the relationship between cultural characteristics at the individual level, tourist attitudes, subjective norms, perceived behavioural control, perceptions of Thailand’s destination image and sustainable tourist behaviour. In a practical context, this study shows the implications for businesses and tourism organisations of a better understanding of tourists’ culture influences and behaviour in a Thai context. Moreover, the result of this study will be useful for businesses to provide effective marketing strategies for specific tourists, especially in sustainable tourism.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Jaratmetakul, P
Keywords: cultural characteristics, sustainable tourist behaviour, theory of planned behaviour, Thailand, destination image
DOI / ID Number: 10.25959/100.00035073
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2019 the author

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