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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 February 2022

Francesc González-Reverté, Joan Miquel Gomis-López and Pablo Díaz-Luque

There is little knowledge to date regarding the influence of the COVID-19 health crisis on tourists' intention to travel differently in the future. This paper addresses…

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Abstract

Purpose

There is little knowledge to date regarding the influence of the COVID-19 health crisis on tourists' intention to travel differently in the future. This paper addresses this and explores its determinants. The objective of the present study is to determine to what extent the Spanish tourists affected by COVID-19 may change the way they travel in the future, according to the perceived risk of travel in a pandemic context.

Design/methodology/approach

Between May and June 2020, the authors conducted a survey with a sample population of Spanish tourists who were resident in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic, for the purposes of studying the role of attitudes and risk in the intention to change the way they want to travel in the future. Cluster analysis and one-way ANOVA were conducted to assess differences among the respondents. Finally, some models were built using the linear regression technique in order to evaluate the role of attitudes in the tourists' adaptive response to the perceived risk of travel.

Findings

Results confirm the formation of a new way of life influencing tourists' intentions to travel more sustainably. Accordingly, tourists with a previous environmental attitude are less interested in visiting mass tourism beach destinations in the future. However, changes in the way some tourists travel can also be read as an adaptive and temporary response to the perceived risk of contracting the disease, and do not point to a reduction of the vital importance of tourism in their lives.

Research limitations/implications

The exploratory nature of the study and the lack of similar international analyses does not allow the authors to contrast its results at a global level, though it offers a starting point for future research in other countries. There are also methodological limitations, since the field work was carried out between the first and second waves of the disease, at a time when the pandemic was in remission, possibly affecting the orientation of some responses, given the desire to recover normalcy and “normal” travel, and this may have influenced the priority given to tourism.

Social implications

This study gives new insights into the debate on the social transformation of the collective consciousness. Despite some signs of change, part of the Spanish tourists are still anchored in traditional tourism practices embedded in cultural factors, which can hinder sustainability in the Spanish tourism industry. The experience of the COVID-19 crisis has not been sufficient to change the declared travel habits of Spanish tourists. Therefore, progress towards the definition of a new tourism system that implies the effective transformation of demand will require applying policies and promoting institutional innovation and education to create paths that facilitate transformative experiences.

Originality/value

The study is focused on the analysis of the relationship between attitudes and risk perception, including novel elements that enrich the academic debate on social progress in the transformation of tourism and the possibilities of promoting a reset from the demand side. Moreover, it incorporates, for the first time, the COVID-19 as it was experienced as an explanatory variable to analyse the changing travel attitudes in a post-COVID-19 era. The analysis of the psychosocial mechanisms of risk offers a good opportunity for a better assessment of post-pandemic demand risk perception. Finally, the study offers empirical evidence on how Spanish tourists are reimagining their next and future holidays, which can be highly valuable for destination managers.

Details

Journal of Tourism Futures, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2055-5911

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