Girish Prayag, SKEMA Business School, and Chris Ryan, Waikato Management School published “Antecedents of Tourists’ Loyalty to Mauritius: The Role and Influence of Destination Image, Place Attachment, Personal Involvement, and Satisfaction” in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Travel Research.
Proferrsor Prayag provided some background information concerning the recent article.
Who is the target audience for this article?
Both academics and practitioners who are interested in understanding tourist loyalty in a small island developing state (SIDS). Destination marketers, with often limited budget, can understand how important the place experience is essential in generating positive word of mouth and revisit intentions among visitors.
What inspired you to be interested in this topic?
Island destinations often convey images of paradise and we wanted to see why international visitors to the island of Mauritius come back and how they develop attachment to the place, and their level of involvement in the destination experience.
Were there findings that were surprising to you?
Indeed, in the tourism literature the relationship between destination image and place attachment was not tested in a SIDS. Our findings clearly shows that this is the case and that repeat visitation is often tied to the personal involvement, image, attachment and satisfaction of visitors. Understanding only one aspect of visitors’ experience such as the image perceptions can lead to inappropriate strategies for generating repeat visitation. Once we understand how involvement can influence the process, a destination is better able to manage visitors’ experience.
How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
The model we propose should be tested in other destinations and other antecedents such as motivation can be included to further understanding of tourist loyalty. Destination marketers should look also at how destination branding and positioning can influence personal involvement and place attachment of visitors.
How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?
There are many studies on destination image and we wanted to extend these studies by looking at the influence of the former, as well as place attachment and personal involvement, on tourist loyalty. We think there are many antecedents of tourist loyalty that have not been studied and often other fields of study such as leisure and recreation can offer insights for tourism scholars. Adopting inter-disciplinary approaches often allow for better conceptualization of a tourism phenomenon.
How did your paper change during the review process?
There was a body of knowledge on heritage sites that existed and the reviewing process enabled us to better understand some of the similarities that existed between place attachment for heritage sites. We used this to better conceptualise our own paper. Also, the reviewers made good suggestions for improving our SEM modeling.
What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?
We would also look at how motivation influences visitors place attachment and perhaps go back and reconceptualise personal involvement in the context of tourist destinations. Existing scales of personal involvement have limited application to tourist destinations.