Date of Award

8-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Committee Member

William C. Norman, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Sheila J. Backman, Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Kenneth F. Backman

Committee Member

DeWayne Moore

Abstract

Despite the collective nature of tourism activity, the research focusing on group behavior in tourism literature is very rare. People usually travel with groups, mostly with their families who have influence on their travel decisions. Food is one of the unique aspects of a destination which has become a marketing tool for tourism planners and an important travel decision. An understanding of the preference of local food among tourists will create positive impact on the region and exploring the underlying factors of this preference will be beneficial for future marketing plans. The purpose of this study was to understand the factors influencing local food purchase intention of tourist couples visiting coastal areas of South Carolina through the use of modified Theory of Reasoned action and provide a better understanding of their decision making process by using Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) as data analyzing technique. Data was collected in Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina from 190 tourist couples in October 2014. The variables influencing intention to purchase wildcaught and aquacultured oysters were tested. Results show that even if women have negative attitude towards oysters, their intention to purchase local seafood is not different than men. Positive importance of eating oysters in destination have stronger influence on intention to purchase seafood at individual and couple level. Study results also indicate as couples get older they influence each other in a positive way. This study provided theoretical implications by applying a modified Theory of Reasoned action in tourism decision making process, methodological implications by bringing a new way to understand this process by testing the relationships at individual and couple level. In addition to theoretical and methodological implications this study offered practical implications by providing insight into tourist’s intention to purchase aquacultured and wildcaught oysters during their vacation.

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