This thesis investigates destination choice by school excursion groups in Australia and identifies the factors that influence preference. Although educational tourism is a broad and complicated field with limited past research,the importance of this area of tourism is likely to grow due to trends in both the tourism and education sectors. Changes in the tourism industry over the last two decades,coupled with the changes in education,have seen the convergence of the two industries with education facilitating mobility and learning becoming an important part of the tourist experience. Educational visits to tourism and recreation sites demonstrate distinctive patterns of both space and time and raise an issue for consideration. There is a need for destination managers to become more attuned to the needs of schools. An appreciation of the operating constraints and individual school characteristics and preferences will mean a professional approach to the schools market. Growing recognition of the limitations of the ability of individual consumer characteristics to alone explain variation in buyer behaviour has prompted a number of calls to examine situational influences on behaviour. This study applies a proposed theoretical framework in an Australian schools context. An exploratory sequential design was applied,qualitatively exploring the topic before building to a second quantitative phase. The primary purpose was to generalise qualitative findings based on a few individuals from the first phase to a larger sample gathered during the second phase. This design was particularly useful to identify important variables to study quantitatively as the variables were unknown. A survey instrument,including a discrete choice experiment (DCE) consisting of several choice scenarios,each containing three options,was developed. Each option was described by a set of attributes and each attribute can take one of several levels. A survey was administered in May 2010. Potential respondents (excursion planners) were emailed an invitation to participate together with a link to the online survey. An email invitation was sent to 7447 primary schools and 2962 secondary and special schools nationwide. In addition to the responses to the choice scenarios,other data were collected using the survey. They included various situational context characteristics and previous destination choices for overnight school excursions. Analysis was performed using Latent GOLD Choice 4.0 software,producing a multinomial logit model (MNL),to estimate the probability of making a specific choice among the set of alternatives. CHAID analysis and SI-CHAID 4.0 generated tree diagrams revealing the covariates that significantly predicted class membership and significant splits of sub-groups. Theoretical implications from this research,examining situational influences on behaviour,leads to the conclusion that the factors that influence preference for destination choice,as indicated by planners of overnight school excursions,differ in importance depending on situational contexts and personal characteristics of the travel party and the respondent. Results also provide clarification that destination choice is influenced by preferences for attributes suited to the travel party and purpose of the trip rather than just the individual excursion planner. Implications for practice are the contributions toward understanding the school excursion market,and better allowing destination organisations to tailor their products and marketing to consumers.
|Date of Award||1 Jan 2013|