Rural Tourism: An Examination of the Factors Influencing Revisit Intention to Rural Destinations in the Southeastern United States
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management
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The continued growth in tourism over the last decade creates an opportunity for specialty forms of tourism to increase their market share. One area of expansion is rural tourism. Rural tourism a subset of cultural tourism. Over sixty percent of the land in the United States is classified as rural based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Services (USDA ERS, 2013). Tourism can increase the local economies resources and tax dollars which helps maintain an area’s infrastructure, create jobs (Ribeiro & Marques, 2002), and support small businesses (Fleischer & Felsenstein, 2000). Revisit intention has been unambiguously linked to tourist loyalty (Park & Yoon, 2009) and for a rural destination this can have a lasting impact. To better understand what factors impact revisit intention, a rural tourism revisit intention model was created and tested. This dissertation created and tested a theoretical rural tourism revisit intention model exploring the relationships among motivation, involvement, destination image, place attachment, place satisfaction, and revisit intention. Place attachment has also been examined as a second-order factor comprised of place identity, place dependence, place affect, and place social bonding. The sample consisted of 407 respondents from the United States that had visited a rural destination in the Southeastern United States in the past twelve months. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to test the dimensionality of the place attachment variable. The revisit intention model was tested using structural equation modeling. The study confirmed place attachment as a second-order construct. Additionally, the structural equation model found significant evidence to support the positive relationships between destination image, place attachment, and place satisfaction, and an inverse relationship between destination image and revisit intention. Evidence was also found indicating an inverse relationship between together motivations and destination image with involvement having a dampening effect on the negative relationship. The results of the study have both managerial and theoretical implications, as some of the relationships are counter to previous research.