An investigation into the travel motivations and decision-making processes of Chinese seniors
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Since 1999, China has been considered as an ageing society (China State Information Centre, 2016). As a result, the Chinese senior tourist market has become increasingly important for market professionals and scholars. In addition to this, a thorough review of the existing research literature reveals some research gaps regarding this market. First, within the English research literature, the Chinese senior tourist market is underrepresented, and the researcher only found seven articles related to the subject. Second, within the Chinese research literature there are several critical limitations regarding research methods. This is because that there are a large number of non-empirical studies within the Chinese research literature. Third, there was a potential to further investigate the decision-making processes of Chinese senior tourists, as both the English and the Chinese research literature do not investigate the influences of certain psychological and technological factors, such as travel constraints and the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
In order to address these research gaps, this study aimed to investigate the travel decision-making processes of Chinese senior citizens. In order to do this, five specific research objectives were developed. The first objective was to examine the existing research literature in relation to tourism among senior citizens. Second, to develop a conceptual framework regarding Chinese seniors’ travel decision-making process. Third, to assess Chinese seniors’ travel behaviours and their general and travel-related ICT usage. Fourth, to address the influences of travel constraints, travel motivation and travel-related ICT usage through the analysis of the proposed conceptual framework. Fifth, to put forward recommendations to relevant stakeholders, such as Chinese senior tourists, Chinese travel agencies and relevant market management bodies.
In order to achieve the research aims and objectives, the researcher designed and conducted a questionnaire survey for the proposed structural model. Data was collected from 587 senior citizens from five representative cities in mainland China.
Analysis of the collected data revealed five main findings. First, there was still a relatively high travel demand among Chinese senior citizens, despite the recent slowdown in economic growth. Second, based on their travel motivations, Chinese senior citizens can be divided into four segments, namely, travel enthusiasts, family-oriented travellers, cautious dream-fulfillers and uninterested individuals. Fourth, while the findings suggested that most of the respondents employed ICT devices, their travel-related use of ICT was subject to their gender, age, employment status, income level, education level and household structure. Fifth, through analysis of the proposed structural model, the influence of travel motivations, travel constraints and travel-related use of ICT were confirmed by the study. More specifically, the structural equation modelling (SEM) analysis identified that travel-related use of ICT was a significant moderator for the relationship between subjective norms and travel intentions, and that travel motivation was a significant mediator for the relationship between travel-related use of ICT and travel intentions. In light of these research findings, relational implications (both theoretical and practical) were derived and practical recommendations were put forward to relevant stakeholders in the Chinese senior tourist market.
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