Heritage tourists' perceptions of authenticity, its antecedents and consequence

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Heritage tourists' perceptions of authenticity, its antecedents and consequence


Author: Nguyen, Thi Hong Hai
Title: Heritage tourists' perceptions of authenticity, its antecedents and consequence
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Heritage tourism
Culture and tourism
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: School of Hotel and Tourism Management
Pages: xx, 359 pages : illustrations
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2811144
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7992
Abstract: Within the study field of heritage tourism, authenticity is one of the most important issues. It is considered as a significant element as well as an appeal for tourists. Despite of being long studied, the theoretical concept of authenticity is believed to be only in the early stages of its conceptualization (Chronis & Hampton, 2006; Timothy, 2011). A comprehensive review of past studies indicates that different types of authenticity have been conceptualized, however, they were hardly examined concurrently. In other words, authenticity has scarcely been investigated as a multi-dimensional concept. There is still a lack of a comprehensive scale to measure the perception of the concept through its multiple dimensions. From a managerial and marketing point of view, it is essential to comprehend how tourists understand and assess authenticity as well as whether the authenticity claimed is acknowledged by them (Kolar & Zabkar, 2010; Xie & Wall, 2002). Previous studies have furthermore found that authenticity is hardly a ‘standalone’ concept (Kolar & Zabkar, 2010). Little however has been done concerning the antecedents and consequences of perceived authenticity. The ultimate goal of this study is therefore to investigate perceived authenticity of heritage experiences from tourists’ perspectives. It first aims at developing a comprehensive scale for measuring tourist's perceived authenticity. Next, it establishes a consumer-based model of authenticity and examines the relationship of perceived authenticity with its antecedents, including heritage awareness and heritage motivation and its consequence, tourist satisfaction. Moreover, the concept of distance, which refers to the difference between long-haul and short-haul tourists, is proposed to act as a moderator in the relationships associated with perceived authenticity. The city of Hong Kong is chosen as the study site. A rigorous procedure of scale development, as proposed by Churchill (1979), is adopted for generating an instrument to measure perceived authenticity. A pre-qualitative study with in-depth interviews with 21 heritage visitors was used to establish a measurement scale, as well as to provide primary data on tourist perception of authenticity. Different enhancers and diminishers of authentic heritage experiences are identified at this stage. After consulting a panel of experts, the questionnaire for the main survey is pilot tested with 122 respondents. Afterwards, a total of 625 valid responses are collected for the main survey. The procedure of structural equation modeling is utilized for analyzing the data. After the sequential steps of EFA and CFA, the final structural model is found to consist of five constructs, including Heritage Awareness, Heritage Motivation, Perceived Authenticity, Tourist Satisfaction and Perceived Commodification, which is a newly emerged construct in the context.
The findings of the study indicate support for the structural model and the hypothesized relationships. Eleven out of fifteen established hypotheses are supported. Heritage awareness and heritage motivation are indicated to directly and positively affect perceived authenticity, whereas perceived commodification is evidenced to negatively and directly influence perceived authenticity. Heritage awareness is found to positively affect heritage motivation. Perceived authenticity is also proven to be a significant mediator on the relationships between heritage awareness, heritage motivation, perceived commodification, and tourist satisfaction. Distance is found to have moderating effects on the relationships between heritage awareness, commodification and perceived authenticity. Moreover, the study identifies major significance of authenticity for heritage tourist experiences. The present study provides a satisfactory measurement scale of authenticity, a valid consumer-based model of authenticity, and evidence of the significance of authenticity in this context. It is believed not only to enrich the theoretical debate on the issue of authenticity in tourism, but also to provide practical implications for heritage tourism management, particularly in the case of Hong Kong. Although the study encounters several limitations related to the issues of generalizability and development of a measurement scale for authenticity, it serves as a valuable foundation for future research.

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