Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management

Major Professor

Steve Morse

Committee Members

Youn-Kyung Kim, Stephanie Bohon, Carol Costello

Abstract

This study aimed to determine the push and pull motivations that lead to an enduring involvement in an adventure tourism activity. The proposed research model will be the first to explore the relationship between motivational needs and enduring involvement in an adventure setting. In understanding the role that motivational needs and enduring involvement play in the success in an adventure setting, marketers can better promote the adventure tourism activity and location. Because this study was designed specifically for adventure tourism, it is expected that the model can be generalized across other adventure activities. In addition to motivational needs, enduring involvement, and place attachment, this study introduced affective response as a mediator between enduring involvement and place attachment. The specific research objectives of this study include: (1) to determine the primary motivations for adventure tourists at a whitewater destination; (2) to determine which motivations lead to each dimension of enduring involvement; (3) to determine which dimensions of enduring involvement lead to an affective response (4) to determine if the affective response leads to a place attachment; and (5) to determine if place attachment leads to positive outcomes such as word-of-mouth and revisit intention. This study was conducted in one adventure tourism location (Ocoee River in Ocoee, TN) among five different whitewater rafting tour operators. Scale items utilized in the survey were adopted from previous studies. A street intercept survey methodology was employed to gather the data and 690 completed responses were used for the data analyses. All of the constructs had acceptable levels of composite reliability and was valid in terms of convergent and discriminant validity. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the data. Results supported the newly conceptualized adventure tourism model featuring four key motivations for adventure tourists and two key factors for enduring involvement. Support was found for the relationship that strong motivational needs lead to an enduring involvement with the adventure activity. The relationship between enduring involvement (enjoyment factor) and place attachment was mediated by an affective response. Research implications, marketing implications, limitations, and recommendations for future research were provided.

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