Tourists' dining experiences while travelling in China : a semiotic approach of its influence on their travel perceptions

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Tourists' dining experiences while travelling in China : a semiotic approach of its influence on their travel perceptions

 

Author: Tsang, Wing Sze Lancy
Title: Tourists' dining experiences while travelling in China : a semiotic approach of its influence on their travel perceptions
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2013
Subject: Tourism and gastronomy -- China.
Tourism and gastronomy
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: x, 311 leaves : ill. ; 30 cm.
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2681774
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7359
Abstract: Tourists are increasingly becoming interested in gastronomy and are visiting certain destinations to experience and partake of gastronomy (Richards, 2002; Kivela & Crotts, 2006). Despite the current level of research, not much is still known about dining experiences in the context of tourism in China; and even less about how tourists' dining experiences might contribute to their overall travel experiences while visiting China. This study endeavours to close these gaps by investigating the influence of Chinese food culture and gastronomy on visitor perceptions during intercultural service encounters. This study provides insights into inbound tourists' behaviour which can assist China's tourism stakeholders in developing better marketing strategies for their destinations. Hence, the key research question for this study is how did China's gastronomy contribute to the tourists' experiences while travelling in China? This study aims to understand what is happening during the dining experience and tried to seek connection and explanations for each situation rather than to test the hypotheses from the exiting theories. Thus, the phenomenological research philosophy is the most appropriate methodology, and the inductive approach was used as the research tool. On-site participant observation, focus group interviews and individual interviews were conducted, respectively with tourists while they travelled in China. The target samples of this study are travellers from destinations such as, North America, Oceania, European Union, and South East Asia (Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan) who are (a) participating in all-inclusive package tours to China, and (b) who are independent travellers will be targeted. China's main city-attractions such as Shanghai, Guilin and Hangzhou are chose to conduct the study because for many first-time travellers to China, "China is China" no matter what city/province they are visiting. A computerised tool (NUD.IST) was utilised to synthesise data, identify key dimensions, and map the range and dimension of each phenomenon. By using narrative analysis, the attributes that affect tourists' evaluation of their travel dining experience were examined. Findings revealed that tourists' dining experiences can be affected by a number of attributes that are conceptualised into three predominate themes, namely, 'personal experiences and food related values', 'personal food preferences and taboos', and 'food related environment'. The attributes that would affect tourists' evaluation on their dining experiences were also identified, which included culture, authentic location, indigenous foods, special travel needs, novelty or adventure seeking, hygiene and health, menu, and physical and spatial environment. Most importantly, findings indicated tourists' dining experiences would significantly influence tourists' perceptions towards a destination. Furthermore, this study also analysed the narratives of the tourists, which provided a more lucid and comprehensive interpretation of their dining experiences and semiotics behind those experiences. Based on the research findings, fifteen propositions are postulated in order to achieve the research objectives of this study. This study has contributed new knowledge about gastronomy in tourism and the tourists' dining out patterns when travelling in China. Several suggestions are proposed for further research in extending the knowledge relating to the travel dining experience. Recommendations are also suggested for destination marketers in developing their gastronomy products to enhance tourists enjoying their trips.

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