Chinese Tourists’ Image of America

Xiang (Robert) Li, University of South Carolina, and Svetlana Stepchenkova, University of Florida, published “Chinese Outbound Tourists’Destination Image of America: Part I” in OnlineFirst of the Journal of Travel Research. Professor Li kindly provided some background on the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

 The paper mainly targets American destinations and tourism service providers who are interested in the fast growing Chinese outbound travel market. It may also appeal to the general public who wants to know a little bit about how Chinese view America as a destination–I have taken a number of media interviews on this.

 What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

 I have studied and worked both in China and the States, and am always interested in facilitating travel exchanges between the two countries– a market of over 1.6 billion people.

 Were there findings that were surprising to you?

 What impressed me the most is overall how knowledgeable Chinese tourists are –they know a lot about American destinations, and they hold very positive feelings about traveling to the States.  The perceptual maps we made also revealed some interesting findings–some destinations and attractions that I thought would naturally “fit together” were not connected in respondents’ mind, at least not linked in a statistical sense. 

 How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

 It has been suggested the Chinese outbound travelers will change the landscape of destination competition globally. This study helps the American destinations and tourism service providers better understand Chinese tourists. Research wise, this paper shed some light on how to analyze large volume of categorical data regarding destination brand perceptions.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

 I am currently working on two research programs–China outbound tourism and destination brand perceptions. This paper (it is actually the first of two articles regarding Chinese tourists’ perception of America, the next one is forthcoming) connects the two programs beautifully. Because of it, I am more into visualizing research findings and quantifying qualitative data now.

 How did your paper change during the review process?

 The review process improved the paper in at least 4 areas: (1) we provided more details on the research design, particularly sample selection and data collection procedure; (2) we expanded on the explanation of how the perceptual maps were constructed, and added the full statistical solution in the paper; (3) we made the paper more concise; (4) in the discussion part, we expanded on marketing implications, limitations, and further lines of research

 What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

 The Chinese market is growing fast, and a lot had happened in the past several years since we did this study. I am anxious to repeat this study and update the findings.

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