Doctoral thesis

Understanding the impact of risk perception in leisure tourism-related decisions and the role of attitudes and preferences


91 p

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2016

English The contemporary tourism industry is often forced to face events that represent a threat to individuals’ safety. Life- threatening events pose a challenge to travelers’ intentions to plan a leisure trip and influence in a substantive manner human decisions. Individual sensitivity towards potential hazards show a great deal of variation among consumers and several tourism scholars have spent the last years investigating the sources of heterogeneity in hazard-induced travel decisions. The present PhD dissertation collects three research articles dealing with tourist risk perception, hazard-induced travel behaviour and the role of individual traits in decision-making influenced by potential hazards. The specific aim of the study is to investigate the relationship between travel attitudes and hazard-induced risk perception, and between risk perception and travel choices. Furthermore, the work intends to assess the differences between distinct life-threatening hazards and the way in which these determine travel decisions. For the purpose of empirical analysis, a structured survey was administered to a sample of university students. Part of the questionnaire was dedicated to a stated preference experiment in which individuals had to choose between hypothetical alternatives of travels characterized by hazards. In this thesis, advanced econometric techniques – namely, Integrated Choice and Latent Variable modelling – are implemented in order to allow unobservable individual traits to be tested as significant determinants of travellers’ decisions. The main results highlight that travel attitudes bear a significant role in shaping risk perception only for certain types of hazards. The analysis of stated preferences data show that an increasing level of risk perception negatively influences the likelihood to travel to dangerous destinations, but important and significant differences are present in the sample of respondents.
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