The influence of attitudes to local food and authenticity on tourist behaviour
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Tourists are travelling to destinations in search of food experiences which are considered local and authentic. This study investigates tourist attitudes to local food interest on destination choice, travel motivation, satisfaction and perceived object-related and existential authenticity. Additionally, the mediating effects of authenticity on these relationships is also examined. A quantitative survey (n = 368) by questionnaire was conducted. Data analysed using factor analysis and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) suggests that tourist attitudes to local food influence destination choice (β = 0.136; p < 0.001), satisfaction (β = 0.320; p < 0.001) and perceptions of object-related (β = 0.542; p < 0.001) and existential authenticity (β = 0.629; p < 0.001). Additionally, it was found that tourist attitudes to local food had no influence on travel motivation (β=-0.89; p = < 0.100). Results from mediation show that existential authenticity, rather than object-related authenticity has a greater impact on the relationships between tourist attitudes to local food and destination choice (β = 0.618; p < 0.001), travel motivation (β = 0.817; p < 0.001) and satisfaction (β = 0.386; p < 0.001). This research concludes that destination choice, satisfaction and perceived object-related and existential authenticity of the local food experience are conditioned by tourists’ local food interest. Additionally, this study finds that object-related authenticity influences the relationship between attitudes to local food and travel motivation. Furthermore, existential authenticity mediates the relationship between attitudes to local food and destination choice, travel motivation and satisfaction. Drawing on these findings, practical advice to tourist stakeholders, food producers and destination marketers, looking to entice tourists interested in local food, can be offered. Destinations should emphasise unique regional specialities while highlighting the experiential value of local food. Thus, giving the tourist an opportunity to not only consume the local food but also to actively participate in the local food experience.
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