Date of Award

8-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Backman, Kenneth F

Committee Member

Backman , Sheila J

Committee Member

Grove , Stephen J

Committee Member

Ramshaw , Gregory S

Abstract

Since the beginning of time, people have traveled far and wide seeking to gain affirmation of their faith, and to honor the lands where their religious beliefs originated. Faith tourism, or religious tourism, is a pilgrimage that is exclusively or strongly motivated by religious reasons. The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Hajj, is an Islamic pilgrimage where Muslims travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to attend one of the largest religious events in the world, with participation from about 3 million people on certain days every year. Despite its spiritual and economic importance, little attention has been paid to Hajj as a religious tourism event and to the pilgrims as tourists that have the same travel pattern. This dissertation addressed service quality perceived by Hajj pilgrims and its impact on their perceived value and overall satisfaction. The research aimed to provide theoretical and practical applications with the goal of enhancing the experiences the pilgrims seek during such religious journeys.
The study applied a sequential mixed method. First, in depth interviews with 7 pilgrims were conducted. Analysis of the results led to the development of the quantitative instrument. Second, a self-administrated questionnaire was distributed to first-time pilgrims of the 2012 Hajj season in 13 Islamic centers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. The analysis included 183 usable questionnaires. The data were coded and analyzed using different statistical methods including, reliability analysis, explanatory factor analysis, independent sample t-test, test of variances ANOVA, correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis.
The research concluded with a number of important insights concerning the service quality in the Hajj context. Hajj service quality consists of five clear practical dimensions: accommodation, mobility, caretaking, food services and problem solving. This five-dimensional construct identified has shown high reliability and validity in terms of statistic. The 29 items included in the Hajj service quality scale were strongly or moderately significantly related to customers' perceived service quality, monetary value and overall satisfaction with the purchased Hajj package.
Although, the results of the analysis suggested that perception of service quality varies with particular personal and purchased package characteristics, it was identified that pilgrims in general were somewhat satisfied with Hajj services while having lower perceptions of the monetary value of Hajj packages.
The empirical findings can assist travel agencies working for Hajj to develop frameworks of their service quality indicators, and the developed scale can be used for monitoring and enhancing their business performance. For destination managers, the findings can assist the improvement of Hajj service quality, and to adopt criteria for licensing Hajj travel agencies, particularly in determining specifications for the different Hajj packages offered. The uniqueness of this dissertation research is the development of a practical evaluation tool that can be used in examining the quality of Hajj packages sold every year all over the world.

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