Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Hospitality and Tourism Management
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
The study sets two objectives. The first is to investigate how an array of tourist misbehaviors was perceived by the young generations of the United States and China. The second is to examine factors that could explain any perceptual differences between young Americans and Chinese. Five research questions were developed and addressed for the first objective through online surveys by comparing the perceptions of American respondents and Chinese respondents on a list of tourist misbehaviors. They are: 1) What are the annoyance levels of tourist misbehaviors perceived by American college students? 2) What are the annoyance levels of tourist misbehaviors perceived by the college students from China? 3) How do the American college students and those from China differ in their perceptions of tourist misbehaviors? 4) Do the American college students differ from other Americans in their perceptions of tourist misbehaviors? and 5) Do the length of stay of the college students from China affect their perceptions of tourist misbehaviors?
The study discovered that the top three annoying tourist misbehaviors perceived same by the American college students and Chinese students were “not flushing toilet after use”, “participating in criminal activities”, and “smoking anywhere without considering those around them”. In addition, the American college student also perceived “verbally or physically abusing service personnel in hotels and other service operations”, “allowing children to go to the toilet in the street”, and “not respecting the religious or spiritual needs of others” among the most annoying tourist misbehaviors; whereas the college students from China perceived “driving a car or crossing road unsafely/not observing local traffic rules and regulations”, “not respecting the religious or spiritual needs of others” and “breaking into a line of waiting people” among the most annoying tourist misbehaviors. The study also found that the American college students perceived nine tourist misbehaviors significantly different from the general American respondents. The students perceived only one tourist misbehavior “not respecting the religious or spiritual needs of others” as more annoying than the general respondents, while the general respondents perceived eight tourist misbehaviors as more annoying than the students. Another important finding from the study is that the length of stay of the college students from China did affect their perceptions of tourist misbehaviors. As the length of stay increases, the perceptions of the Chinese students on tourist misbehaviors increasingly converge with those of the American college students.
Three research questions were developed and addressed for the second research objective through the synthesis of literature. They are: 1) Could the differences in perceptions between the American college students and their peers from China be explained by tourism theories on host and guest relationship? 2) Could the differences in perceptions between the American college students and their peers from China be explained by Hofstede’s Theory of Cultural Dimension? and 3) Could the differences in perceptions between the American college students and their peers from China be explained by the Theory of Planned Behavior?
One tourism theory on host and guest relationship indicates that tourist misbehaviors could potentially create threats to local hosts. The results of the current study show that tourists might perceive some tourist misbehaviors as more acceptable while hosts might perceive some tourist misbehaviors as less acceptable, and therefore resulted in differences in perceptions. This finding confirms the theory on host and guest relationship. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory can also explain some perceptual differences as found in this study. For example, Chinese students’ attitudes towards service personnel could be explained by the power distance dimension. China is a country with high power distance in which inequalities are more acceptable than in the United States. Other perceptual differences between the American college students and their peers from China could be explained by the Theory of Planned Behavior, which suggests that cultures play an important role in individuals’ attitudes and perceived norms. In Chinese culture, “demanding discount on merchandise” is a common practice, while it is less so in the United States.
The study aimed at making a timely contribution to the understanding of the fast-growing inbound market from China to the United States. The results were expected to help improve the relationship between Chinese tourists as guests and the Americans as hosts. Such understanding and improved relationship would allow global destination communities to be better prepared for the arrival of the Chinese tourists. While there may be a small group of Chinese tourists that behave improperly as perceived by the local hosts, judgments towards misbehaviors should not be generalized into the entire inbound market from China. By applying learning theories, the study proposes several strategies to guide and influence tourist behaviors for both the guests and hosts. On the host side, destination communities and businesses can employ cultural education and training to residents and employees, should they are interested in welcoming the tourists from China. On the guest side, they can benefit from cultural learning programs both at home and included as part of their trip itineraries. In addition to appropriate regulations and rules targeted at the tourists, the travel trade and various levels of government in China should consider it an important responsibility to help the outbound Chinese tourists understand the behavioral norms at their destinations so that they would be able to minimize unpleasant encounters and enjoy more of the positive experiences.
Li, Yue, "Hua qian zhao zui shou looking for trouble at own expense - a study of tourist (mis)behaviors" (2016). Open Access Theses. 870.