The impact of corruption on travelers’ perceptions and preferences

Alexis Papathanassis (Department of Management and Information Systems, University of Bremerhaven, Bremerhaven, Germany)

Tourism Review

ISSN: 1660-5373

Publication date: 24 June 2019



This paper aims to explore and model tourists’ perceptions of corruption-related holiday incidents and their impact on travel preferences and behavior.


This research methodology reflects an exploratory-sequential, mixed-method design, comprising a content analysis of 205 online reviews, followed by a survey of 268 respondents.


According to the data collected and analyzed, exposure to corruption appears to be more than an exception for holidaymakers. Moreover, tourists often associate corruption with a wide spectrum of incident types; those ranging from personal integrity threats to service delivery failures and heritage/attraction mismanagement. The impact of such incidents on travel preferences and behavior of tourists is highly dependent on the perceived competence, effectiveness and professionalism of local (destination) public services and authorities.

Practical implications

Recommendations for destination stakeholders include the need to enable and take ownership of tourists’ complaints and the importance of recognizing the role of heritage attractions as corruption-related symbols and destination image carriers.


This paper attempts to establish the connection between corruption and tourism externalities within the context of the recent “over-tourism” debate. In exploring tourism-corruption, the authors adopt a “micro-behavioral” perspective, which represents a novelty in the related macro/systemic-level approach, characterizing the predominant research in this area. Moreover, in terms of research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative methods are combined. This is an ambitious and challenging research design, demonstrating the synergies between the two paradigms and contributing to the completeness of the paper.



Papathanassis, A. (2019), "The impact of corruption on travelers’ perceptions and preferences", Tourism Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

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