An analysis of students' travel motivations and images of China as a tourist destination
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Despite China's rapid growth in inbound tourism, the nature of its Canadian tourist market has been insufficiently studied. In response to this need, the objectives of this study are to identify China's destination image in Canadian students' minds, their possible internal motivations for visiting China as well as examining demographic influences on people's destination image formation. The study reviews image formation process and travel motivation categorisation, discusses their relationship, and implements Baloglu and McCleary's (1999) perceptual and affective image formation model and "push and pull factors" theory as its framework. A self-administered survey was applied to 424 undergraduate students in a Canadian university in early 2004. Exploratory factor analyses were conducted to identify perceived images and travel motivation. Summated means were calculated to illustrate the affective attitudes. A series of f-test and ANOVA tests were employed to examine the influence of demographics. An open-ended question format was adopted to analyse other images, motivations and visitation barriers that students may have. Findings demonstrate that cultural and natural attractions are the predominant image which the Canadian students have of China'; some stereotypes and negative images still influence the students' perception; travel service quality is largely unknown; increasing knowledge and seeking excitement and fun are the significant motivators in the likelihood of the Canadian students choosing to visit China; and personal interests may be a factor that significantly influences an individual's destination image and travel motivation. Raising awareness and increasing familiarity through promotion are suggested as methods to create a positive destination image of China.