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Up in smoke? The impact of smog on risk perception and satisfaction of international tourists in Beijing

Up in smoke? The impact of smog on risk perception and satisfaction of international tourists in Beijing

Li, Jing, Pearce, Philip L., Morrison, Alastair M. ORCID: 0000-0002-0754-1083 and Wu, Bihu (2015) Up in smoke? The impact of smog on risk perception and satisfaction of international tourists in Beijing. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18 (4). pp. 373-386. ISSN 1099-2340 (Print), 1522-1970 (Online) (doi:

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The topic of concern of this research is smog, and the destination of interest is Beijing, China. The present study investigated the attitudes and behaviours of international on‐site tourists to the worrying issue of smog in China's capital. The work is embedded in previous theoretical and conceptual studies of risk and hazard perception. Social and natural disasters affecting tourism are widely reported in various media formats (Kozak et al., 2007). Tourism research concerning such disasters has become an important concern of tourism analysis (Reisinger & Mavondo, 2005; Tan & Tang, 2013). Previous studies have tended to explore attitudinal and behavioural patterns of people who plan to travel, thus concentrating on their decision‐making processes. However, tourists' risk perception and in turn their moderating strategies may change according to different stages across the travel consumption sequence (Choi et al., 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to investigate tourists' risk perception in different travel stages including pre‐travel decision making, on‐site reactions and post‐trip recollections (Mansfeld, 2006). By focusing on smog – a relatively persistent and somewhat predictable form of hazard – and accessing tourists' on‐site views, the present study may illuminate the existing studies of tourist risk perception.

In the past two years, dangerous smog conditions have been experienced in most cities in China. Smog is a frequently visible, sometimes literally tangible, generic term for air pollution deriving from multiple human activities including but not limited to the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes (Watts, 2010). The National Disaster Relief Department of China has listed smog as a natural disaster due to the rising numbers of deaths attributed directly to severe incidents of the problem. Further, the overall harmful effects of smog on human health justify public concern and research interest (Bickerstaff & Walker, 1999; Semenza et al., 2008). According to Tasci and Boylu (2010), disasters (and smog can now be included in the list of disasters) exert immediate and continuing effects on tourist choices through affecting a destination's image. Such effects are dramatically enhanced when the topic of concern is frequently reported in mass media. The available statistical data show declines in inbound and domestic tourists visiting the worst smog‐affected areas in China.

Beijing is the Chinese city with perhaps the most serious and widely publicized smog conditions. It is also one of China's most popular tourist destinations. The city and its region have been one of the hardest‐hit locations in terms of the frequency of smog and the severity of fine particle matter in the atmosphere. However, there has been very limited research directly exploring the impact of smog on tourists. Tourists' decision‐making, in terms of choosing this destination, and their travel experiences in smog‐affected cities such as Beijing have not been considered. It is generally accepted that understanding tourists' concerns, including their anxiety about health and safety issues, are of paramount importance to travel destinations (Kozak et al., 2007; Law, 2006). Building on these concerns, this research analysed the views of international tourists travelling to Beijing.

The present research has three broad objectives:

1. To explore international tourists' overall and specific concerns with the issue of smog in Beijing;
2. To examine whether there are associations among key tourist attitudes and perceptions including smog concern, risk perception, tourist satisfaction and intention to return to Beijing.
3. To consider whether the relationships found for risk in other content areas also exist for smog.

In meeting these objectives, the work seeks to provide conceptual linkages and explore theoretical connections among key influential variables rather than simply describing tourists' concern about smog. Additionally, the marketing and management consequences of this study and allied research are portrayed.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Beijing, Loyalty, Risk perception, Satisfaction, Smog
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2020 08:54

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