THE PERCEIVED RISK OF TRAVELLING, WITH EMPHASIS ON TERRORISM.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
Risk is an important factor when considering international tourism (Lepp and Gibson, 2003; Sonmez and Graefe, 1998b; 1998a; Sonmez, 1998), especially nowadays as a result of the increased magnitude and frequency of terrorism attacks when travelling. Such events have negatively affected individuals’ perceived risk in international travel, making terrorism risk a key element of the international travel scene. Perceived risk can influence a positive image, intention to travel to a particular destination, as well as the choice of a travel insurance premium. In the same manner, the media can play a significant role on the way individuals form an opinion about international destinations.
This dissertation focuses on perceived risk of travelling, with terrorism being a dominant factor affecting decisions in international leisure travel. The perceptions that tourists have of travel risk may influence their intentions to travel and the likelihood of visiting a destination. Media influence on image formation and travel insurance coverage are also evaluated in this study. Additionally, personal socio-demographic factors, past international travel experience and tourist role are examined to see whether they influence individuals’ perceived risk of travelling relative to terrorism.
The study is based on a sample of 155 Cypriot citizens, aged 18 and above. Data for this study was collected during July 2009 in Cyprus using a structured, self-administered questionnaire; and analysed using descriptive statistics, multiple regression analysis, correlation and chi-square test.
In summary, this study established a significant, but not strong relationship between perception of risk and intention to travel. The study demonstrated the impact of gender, age and past travel experience in the form of frequency of travelling, on people’s behaviour regarding terrorism when travelling. More particularly, gender and past travel experience in the form of frequency of travelling proved to be significant on whether the threat of terrorism could influence people’s decision to travel to a country. Moreover, gender and age played an important role on people’s intention to stop travelling completely during terrorism. However, the same variables did not seem to affect people’s decision to travel to a less dangerous destination rather than stop travelling completely during terrorism. None of the socio-demographic factors, past travel experience and tourist role influenced whether or not individuals would let political instability keep them from vacationing at international destinations. Additionally, education had an impact on the degree individuals are influenced by media when forming an opinion about the image of an international destination. Lastly, no relationship was found to exist between an individual’s attitude of overlooking travel insurance and travel insurance coverage.
Regarding practical applications, the results provide valuable information for both travellers and marketers. By understanding potential tourist’s perceptions, marketers will be able to adjust their marketing promotion and tourist service provision, and see the world through their customers’ eyes (Mitchell, 1999). Perceived risk can influence the likelihood of visiting a destination, a successful destination image, as well as various travellers’ decisions dealing with travelling. The study suggests that studies of travel decision should include an analysis of cultural, psychographic and socio-demographic factors, types of risks, anxiety, and perceived insecurity during travelling.
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