Perceptions and attitudes of international tourists towards Aboriginal tourism.

Author: Janine Ashwell

Ashwell, Janine, 2015 Perceptions and attitudes of international tourists towards Aboriginal tourism., Flinders University, Flinders Business School

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Whilst tourism has been cited as having the potential to provide economic opportunities to remote Aboriginal communities, participation rates of international tourists in Aboriginal tourism activities within Australia has been in decline. A simultaneous decline in visitor numbers to remote destinations has also occurred. To address this research problem, the purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions and attitudes of international tourists towards Aboriginal tourism within Australia. The Aboriginal tourism product range has diversified, offering a range of experiences and accommodation, to meet international tourist needs. Using the Consumer Based Brand Equity framework, this study investigates both the depth and breadth of awareness of the diversified range of products available. Furthermore, it investigates international tourists' perceptions of image, quality, value and loyalty. As previous research has identified that remote destinations may be impacted by a number of constraints, further consideration is given to Aboriginal tourism within the context of a remote destination. An exploratory case study design was implemented, with a hybrid sequential mixed methods approach to data collection. Initially, a binary regression model was used to analyse recalibrated international tourist visitor data, n=49568, to identify characteristics which increased the probability of international tourists to include a remote destination within their holiday itinerary. Additionally, qualitative thematic analysis of exploratory interviews undertaken with ten tourism stakeholders was performed. The findings of these first two studies were analysed alongside a literature review, to identify research questions and measures for the final study. Within the final study, a survey instrument was used with a mix of open and closed questions, to investigate the perceptions and attitudes of international tourists, n=148. The study initially developed a profile of a remote international tourists, identifying a number of characteristics, which increased the probability, of an international tourist to visit a remote destination. These included age, travel party composition, participation in activities, travel packages, length of stay and stopovers. A conceptual model for Consumer Based Brand equity in an Australian Aboriginal tourism context was developed. Only two dimensions, Authenticity and Awareness, had direct relationships with the overall brand equity measure, intention to participate. However, relationships exist between the dimensions, with Quality having an indirect relationship with Authenticity mediated by the dimensions of Personality and Value. Furthermore, the study identified that tourist characteristics mediated the relationship between the dimensions and brand equity. Awareness per se was insufficient to increase the likelihood of an international tourist to intend to participate in Aboriginal tourism activities, with only awareness gained at the planning stage of the holiday having a positive influence. Gaps in brand knowledge are identified in the work in relation to brand salience, Authenticity, Value and Quality. Finally, the brand equity of Aboriginal tourism activities was found to increase the likelihood of an international tourist's willingness to participate in a remote destination. As with the previous model, tourist characteristics mediated this relationship. Overall, this research contributes to both theoretical and methodological literature, in addition to offering a number of practical implications in regards to target segmentation, positioning and promotional strategies.

Keywords: Aboriginal tourism,cultural,consumer based brand equity,marketing,tourism

Subject: Business thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2015
School: Flinders Business School
Supervisor: Dr M Whitaker