In this work-centric and digitally-connected world, travellers are seeking for a chance to reconnect with people, nature and sense of individual meaning. Undoubtedly, ecotourism becomes one of the rapidly evolving segments to cater to the needs from these group of travellers specifically nature lovers around the world. This study examines the role of quality dimensions (e.g., accessibility quality, accommodation quality, & destination resources and attractiveness) in enhancing satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention at the national park context. In addition, the uniqueness of this study is to highlight the moderating variable of local communities’ attitudes in strengthening the relationship between the proposed independent variables to tourists’ satisfaction. A total of 152 respondents comprising of both domestic and international nature lovers visited the Gunung Gading National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia willingly took part in this study. Data analysis was performed using SPSS Version 23.0 and Smart PLS (version 3.2.8) to assess the developed model, based on path modelling as well as bootstrapping. The results of study shown that two of the direct hypotheses were supported, which are destination resources and attraction. There were found to enhance tourists’ satisfaction at the national park, and tourists’ satisfaction leads to revisiting intention to the national park.
Keywords: Quality dimensionssatisfactionrevisit intentiontheory of planned behaviorlocal community attitudesnature lovers
In this work-centric and digitally-connected world, travellers are seeking for chance to reconnect with people, nature and sense of individual meaning (Forbes, 2017). Due to this fact, ecotourism has become one of the rapidly evolving segments in sustainable tourism industry (Anup, 2016; Cusack & Dixon, 2006; Das & Syiemlieh, 2009; UNEP, 2013). It involves environmental protection, forest and wildlife conservation and economic development as potential contributor to local economic benefit (Anup et al., 2015; Duffy, 2008). Past studies have proven that sustaining ecotourism economic development alleviates poverty and enhance business opportunity (Anup, 2016; Hawkins, 2004). In Center for Responsible Travel, CERST (2017) study, United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) revealed that 57% (over 1 billion) of international tourist arrivals worldwide will be emerging in year 2030. The adventure travel trends stated that tourists have higher demand in ecotourism. In addition, 75% of travellers reported they more likely taking environment and sustainability as an important consideration for their choice of holiday destination. On the other hand, Malaysia stepped in to focus on ecotourism and targeted for a total 30 million of international tourists and RM100 billion in tourist receipt to the country in Visit Malaysia 2020 (New Straits Times, 2019).
This study was carried out at Gunung Gading National Park located in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. The National Park received a large number of visitations from both domestic and international tourists (e.g., nature lovers) each year. The Gunung Gading National Park contained an abundance of natural resources and attractions that capture tourists’ intention to visit especially during the blooming season of the Refflesia, the world’s largest flower. At the national park, the natural resources’ quality plays a significant role in attracting visitors, as well as other built resources such as scenic walkway in enhancing tourists’ satisfaction and revisit intention. Therefore, past studies (EL-refae, 2012; Ismail et al., 2016; Kumra, 2008) has been indicated that quality of service as one of the key drivers to meet demand of tourists which in turn enhances satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention in tourism industry. To ensure the sustainability of tourism development particularly at rural tourism destination, it is crucial for the involvement and support of local communities. Hence, the local communities’ attitudes toward tourists as a potential determinant to influence tourists’ future behavioural intention to visit the destination (Abas & Hanafiah, 2014; Chin et al., 2018; Reitsamer et al., 2016; Hanafiah et al., 2013).
In short, this study attempts to examine three of service quality dimensions which are accessibility quality, accommodation quality and destination resources and attractiveness that impact on tourists’ satisfaction. The relationship between satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention is also investigated. Moreover, this research endeavours to investigate the role of local communities’ attitude in the relationship amongst the constructs.
Theory of Planned Behavior and Revisit Intention
To understand and predict people's behavioural intentions, theory of planned behaviour (TPB) is one of the widely adopted and persuasive theory to study tourists’ revisit intention. The TPB focused on tourists’ visit intention or revisit intention to explain the behaviour and travel intention of tourists. In the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), attitudes, subjective norms as well as perceived behavioural control are determining the intentions. Attitude denotes to favourable or unfavourable assessment of person or behaviour’s appraisal; subjective norms represents as the perceived social pressure influence to determine whether execute or not to execute the behaviour; and perceived behavioural control is well-defined as person’s insight of their capacity to perform the behaviour (Ajzen, 1991).
TPB has been adopted in a number of research fields such as social psychology, tourism and festival and events to determine the tourists’ intention and behaviour. TPB reflects that the behavioural intention is strong-minded by attitudes and subjective norms of human behaviour. In this regard, visitors are more likely to revisit a festival where subjective norms exist (Choo et al., 2016; Han et al., 2010; Kim & Han, 2010). Quintal et al. (2015) elucidated that the willingness to revisit and likelihood to recommend to others are influenced by the predictors of behavioural intentions. In a similar study, Leng and Chiu (2016) proposed TPB as the theoretical model of festival intention to revisit. Therefore, perceived behavioural control, subjective norms as well as attitudes play a vital role in decision making to revisit the destination. Thus, TPB is implemented as main theory to underline the framework of current study look at the impact of quality dimensions enhancing tourists’ satisfaction and revisit intention.
Revisit intention is referred to tourists continually visit a destination and keen to recommend it to others. The positive word-of-mouth of repeated tourists are considered as the best marketing tool (Chin et al., 2018; Som & Badarneh, 2011) and as such, a number of studies have found that revisit intention represented the loyalty of customers that intend to revisit the destination, destination image also a key indicator influence tourist to choose the same destination as future intention to visit (Chi & Qu, 2008; Stylidis et al., 2017). Due to the competitive tourism market, tourists’ positive experience from past travel such as quality of service and product play a crucial role on creating tourists’ revisit intention to tourism destination (Choo et al., 2016; Li, 2014; Tubey & Tubey, 2014).
Tourist satisfaction had a substantial impact on tourists’ revisit intention and recommendation to others. It was found that satisfied customers would enhance the word-of-mouth advertising and increase the level of repeat purchase (Alananzeh et al., 2018; Ohn & Supinit, 2016; Xiaoli & Chirapanda, 2013) which in this case refers to revisiting the tourism destinations and creating positive word-of-mouth advertisement on tourism sites. According to previous studies (Dodds & Jolliffe, 2016; Suhartanto et al., 2019) are defined customer satisfaction as the expectation and evaluation of service or product by customers in order to compare between before and after visiting a destination. The tourist future behaviours are related to tourist satisfaction because tourist experiences with the destinations’ attractions could fulfill tourists’ expectation which would develop tourists’ loyalty in revisiting the tourism destinations (Mohaidin, Wei & Ali Murshid, 2017). Therefore, tourists’ satisfaction is a significant factor that impacts tourist revisit intention and future purchase which could result in favourable future bahavioural intention (Ali et al., 2016; Suhartanto et al., 2019).
Accessibility quality is defined as the ease of person in accessing one destination to another destination by using the quality of transportation method at the tourism destination (Chin et al., 2018). Several studies (Coban, 2012; Litman, 2003) revealed that ease of access is one of the important factors for destination image, service quality and tourist satisfaction in turn to influence tourist to make their travel decisions in selecting destination. Moreover, affordability, convenience and accessibility quality of transportation infrastructure also found to affect tourists ease to the destination (Lee & Kim, 2014). As such, destination accessibility and infrastructure are regarded as service quality that have impacted on tourist satisfaction and influence future behavioural intention (Hau & Omar, 2014).
In tourism and hospitality industry, accommodation is referred as a place or a room to stay such as hotels, motels, apartments, villages and homestays (Chin et al., 2018). Accommodation quality included friendliness and efficiency of service, cleanliness of accommodation, convenience of accommodation, security and safety of accommodation (Latiff & Imm, 2015). Previous study by Shonk (2006) emphasized that quality of accommodation has a significant upshot on tourists’ satisfaction. As such, accommodation is one of the main criteria in selecting a destination as good quality of accommodation enhances the tourists’ expectations and satisfaction. Previous studies (Chin et al., 2019; Downward & Lumsdon, 2000; Mehmetoglu, 2007; Rauch et al., 2015) revealed that the accommodation quality influence tourists’ intention to stay, activities’ choices and how much time they are willing to spend in tourism destination.
Destination Resource and Attractiveness
Destination is defined as a location where tourists’ facilities and services are provided (Kim & Brown, 2012) for tourism-related activities to be conducted (Shonk, 2006). Destination resource and attractiveness refer to the special attributes of destination which can attract tourists and develop a sustainable tourism (Crouch & Ritchie, 1999). Past researchers claimed that destination resources and attractiveness are significant factors and play important roles to attract tourists’ visitation (Tubey & Tubey, 2014; Navarro, 2015). In destination competitive market, resources are defined as unique assets of the destination that can be create a competitive advantage (Hong, 2009; Manrai et al., 2018). Past studies (Balkaran & Maharaj, 2013; Goeldner et al., 2000) stated that natural resources and attractiveness consists of natural scenic beauty, national parks, wildlife reserves, flora and fauna and world heritage sites. Moreover, cultural resources and attractiveness involved local cuisine, museums, cultural or historical buildings, folk village, entertainment and nightlife. Thus, unique natural attractions create wonderful travel experience for tourists and persuade tourists to visit the destination again (Bonn et al., 2007).
Local Communities’ Attitude (Moderator)
As stated by Chin et al. (2018), local communities’ attitude refers to a group of local residents who are expressing their perception and attitude towards tourists. In tourism development, local communities play a crucial role as service provider to tourists which provided accommodation, transportation, information and activities (Andereck & Nyaupane, 2011; Lo et al., 2017). Spencer and Nsiah (2013) stated that local communities’ attitude can affect tourists’ satisfaction, spending power, revisit intention and positive or negative word of mouth. Past studies (Goulding et al., 2014; Jaafar et al., 2013; Sharma & Dyer, 2009) have shown that the favourable attitude of local communities, level of support and involvement towards the tourism development to determine success and failure. Therefore, the participation of local communities is a key driver to sustain the tourism destination development.
In a study by Chin et al. (2018), accessibility is advocated as playing a crucial character in shaping the destination competitiveness in the tourism industry. Good quality of accessibility of a tourism destination will result in an increase in destination attractiveness and tourists’ satisfaction, which in turn attract tourists visit and enhance destination image (Basaran, 2016; Madden et al., 2016). Previous studies have promulgated that accommodation quality is an imperative component to enhance tourists’ visit experience and revisit intention (Dubé & Renaghan, 2000; Lo et al., 2017; Nam et al., 2011; Ryu et al., 2012) and accommodation quality and tourists’ satisfaction are found as important factors in amplifying the tourists’ visit experience and revisit intention (Dubé & Renaghan, 2000; Latiff & Imm, 2015; Nam et al., 2011). A good accommodation quality can ensure tourists’ expectation and satisfaction in order to increase the potential growth of economic to tourism destination (Chin et al., 2018). In previous research (Baker & Crompton, 2000; Kozak & Rimmington, 2000) have posited that destination resources and attractiveness have impacted satisfaction of tourists and strong influence on tourists’ revisit intention. There is further evidence on the compelling and positive relationship between destination resources, attractiveness and satisfaction (Alananzeh et al., 2018). According to the above research discussion, the subsequent hypotheses are formed:
H1: Accessibility quality is positively related to tourists’ satisfaction at Gunung Gading National Park of Sarawak.
H2: Accommodation quality is positively related to tourists’ satisfaction at Gunung Gading National Park of Sarawak.
H3: Destination resources and attractiveness are positively related to tourists’ satisfaction at Gunung Gading National Park of Sarawak.
Past studies (Prayag et al., 2017; Vareiro et al., 2019) revealed that tourists’ satisfaction and revisit intention have significant positive relationship. The destination loyalty is a determinant of satisfaction of tourists and tourists are probable to revisit the same destination and tend to share positive word of mouth with friends and family (Bosque & Martín, 2008; Campo‐Martínez et al., 2010; Lee et al., 2014; Vareiro et al., 2019; Yoon & Uysal, 2005). Moreover, satisfaction is a substantial predictor of revisit intention as satisfied tourists with good travel experience are preferred to repeat their visit to the destination spots and recommend to others for visiting the particular destination (Chen & Tsai 2007; Prayag et al., 2017), whereas dissatisfied tourists with bad impression of the destinations are highly unlikely to revisit. As per discussion, the subsequent hypothesis is developed:
H4: Satisfaction of tourists is positively related to revisit intention at Gunung Gading National Park of Sarawak.
Local communities play a crucial role as a service provider in tourism development, as their participation and support are the enabler in developing favourable conditions towards tourism destination (Lo et al., 2017). Local communities are the impetus in providing high quality service to tourists, such as better transportation service and give direction to tourists so that tourists ease to access the location. This is to enhance the quality of accessibility and satisfaction of tourists. In addition, the favourable local communities’ attitude attain positive relationship on satisfaction of tourists towards revisit intention. Past researchers have discovered that quality of accommodation is a significant influence to enhance tourists’ satisfaction (Latiff & Imm, 2015; Marković & Raspor, 2010; Ryu et al., 2012). The responsive attitude of local communities provides the accommodation facilities to tourists may increase tourists’ satisfaction and revisit intention (Ariffin et al., 2013; Bimonte & Punzo, 2016; Chin et al., 2018). Various studies (Balkaran & Maharaj, 2013; Navarro, 2015; Tubey & Tubey, 2014) revealed that destination resource and attractiveness is a significant component to attract tourists. Destination resources and attractiveness and tourists’ satisfaction have significant positive relationship to influence tourists in making decision to revisit destination attraction. Moreover, local communities play a vital role in providing local events and a range of activities to tourists in enhancing tourists’ satisfaction (Sustainable Tourism Online, 2016). The discussion as above lead to develop the succeeding hypotheses:
H5: The local communities’ attitude positively moderate the relationship between accessibility quality and tourists’ satisfaction.
H6: The local communities’ attitude positively moderate the relationship between accommodation quality and tourists’ satisfaction.
H7: The local communities’ attitude positively moderate the relationship between destination resources and attractiveness and tourists’ satisfaction.
According to Sarawak Forestry Corporation (2018), National Parks of Sarawak bring in 142,996 foreign tourists compared to 2017, which is an increment of the growth rate of 14.66%. Thus, there is a potential of overtourism which is one of the critical topics associated with tourism management and encompasses a range of issues.
Ineffective management of tourism
Overtourism refers to overcrowding of destination (Center for Responsible Travel, CERST, 2018) as a result of inactive tourism management plan which lead to overtourism in various tourism destinations, particularly in national parks. As a consequence, the quality of visitor experience is greatly reduced and impacted on the revenues of the national park due to the decline in tourists’ arrivals. Apart from this, ineffective management of tourism also cause environmental degradation such as litter, water, noise and air pollution of nature reserve (Anup, 2016; Eagles, 2002; Nianyong & Zhuge, 2001).
This research is designed to investigate service quality dimensions (accessibility quality, accommodation quality and destination resources and attractiveness) on satisfaction of tourists towards revisit intention with the moderating role of local communities’ attitude. Hence, the research questions are as follow:
How the service quality dimensions (accessibility quality, accommodation quality and destination resources and attractiveness) affect satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention?
How the local communities’ attitude moderates the relationship between service quality dimensions (accessibility quality, accommodation quality and destination resources and attractiveness), satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention?
Purpose of the Study
To study three of service quality which are accessibility quality, accommodation quality and destination resources and attractiveness impact on tourists’ satisfaction and revisit intention with moderating effect of local communities’ attitude.
This study is conducted at Gunung Gading National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia. The sample of this study was targeted on both the domestic and international tourists who have visited the national park from November 2018 to April 2019. A non-probability purposive sampling was implemented for the selection of respondents, in which respondents with the age of 18 years old and above will stance a chance to be selected as one of the respondents for this study. Besides, quantitative approach was employed as the survey tool for collection of data. The survey questionnaire comprises of two sections, whereby section A involves demographic data of the respondents, while section B measures the studied 6 variables. For this study, a total of 24 items were adapted from past scholars to measure the proposed constructs such as (Artuğer, 2015; Canny & Hidayat, 2012; Chi & Qu, 2008; Collins, 2005; Herstanti et al., 2014). The measurement items of the study were ranged from “1–Strongly Disagree”, “2–Disagree”, “3–Slightly Disagree”, “4–Neutral”, “5–Slightly Agree”, “6–Agree”, and “7–Strongly Agree”. A pre-testing was conducted and acts as a preliminary screening of word, phrases, and instructions to detect any issues related to words confusing or instructions that are difficulty to understand. This allow researcher to assess whether the right questions are asking in the right way. Numerous items were removed, modified and other new items was added from the response that we received. Thus, a final version of questionnaire was developed for administration. The demographic profile of the respondents presented in Table
A preliminary analysis by Statistical Package for Social Science 23.0 (SPSS) was conducted to identify the issues of missing values and straight lining prior to measurement analysis. The SmartPLS software (version 3.2.8) was employed to perform the Partial Least Square-Structural Equation Modeling analysis to measure the proposed research model based on the measurement analysis and the structural analysis. Bootstrapping with 1,000 resamples to create the standard errors of the estimation and t-values and the predictive relevance of the model was performed by using blindfolding.
Assessment of the Measurement Model
The discriminant validity, items reliability and convergent validity were measured by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). According to Bagozzi et al. (1991) revealed that all the items loadings are far exceed the threshold point of 0.50 which shown in Table
Moreover, a new suggested method to test the discriminant validity which known as discriminant validity (HTMT Ratio) (see Table
Assessment of the Structural Model
Following, the results of the hypotheses testing shown as Figure
In summary, this study has concluded that destination resources and attractiveness are vital and linked to tourists’ satisfaction. Furthermore, tourists who are pleased with the destination are likely to revisit the destinations. The results have shown that local communities’ attitude did not moderate the relationship of service quality constructs which are accessibility quality, accommodation quality, destination resources and attractiveness, and tourists’ satisfaction in the case of national park. The theoretical and practical implication, and some limitations of this research are further discussed herewith.
From the theoretical angle, this study has emphasized the importance of destination resources and attractiveness and their impacts on tourists’ satisfaction. The findings contribute to the body of knowledge of service quality on destination appeals and literature of national park such as tourism destination. The outcomes of the present study specified that local communities’ attitude does not moderate the relationship between the dimensions of service quality and tourists’ satisfaction. Thus, it is believed that the study has added the value to the context on satisfaction of tourists and revisit intention in tourism destination, national park.
From the practical perspective, the findings of study serve as recommendations to tourism practitioners, local planner and business operator to strategize and create a tourist-friendly destination with valuable information for local and international tourists’ perspective. Thus, the tourism stakeholders and policy makers can utilize key destination resources and attractiveness as a fundamental component for effective growth of tourism destination in this case Gunung Gading National Park.
As a mean to mitigate the limitation of this study, it is recommended for future studies to consider other potential moderator to test the conceptual framework. Finally, the study is crucial for practitioners, academicians and various tourism stakeholders to comprehend the influence of service quality’s components on tourists’ satisfaction with local communities’ attitude toward revisiting intention.
Accessibility Quality, Accommodation Quality, as well as Destination Resources and Attractiveness on Satisfaction
The statistical results indicated that out of seven hypotheses tested, only two direct hypotheses were supported. The result of study showed that the accessibility quality and accommodation quality have no significant relationship with satisfaction. Thus, hypotheses 1 and 2 are rejected. One of the plausible justifications for the findings is that a good accessibility quality to a destination, specifically national park will not influence the tourists’ satisfaction. In the case of Gunung Gading National Park, although the journey to the national park take about 2 hours’ drive from main town, however, tourists are satisfied with the road conditions and mode of transportations provided by relevant authorities. Alternatively, quality of accommodation is found not influencing tourists in making travel decision to the national park, particularly for the case of Gunung Gading National Park. As such, most of the respondents visited to the park opted for a one day visit or they preferred to stay at nearby accommodations. That could be the reason tourists believed that the accommodation quality will not influence their satisfaction at the park, perhaps the natural resources and attractiveness are their main concern and as attractors to enhance the satisfaction level.
From this study, destination resources and attractiveness were found to be positively related to satisfaction, thus supporting hypothesis 3. The findings are congruent with previous research and found that positive significant relationship between destination resources and attractiveness, and tourists’ satisfaction are confirmed (Alananzeh et al., 2018). The possible rationalization for this is that destination resources and attractiveness are considered as positive destination image to develop tourists’ attraction and satisfaction in order to increase tourists’ visitation (Dean et al., 2019; Navarro, 2015). For instance, tourists who are visiting the national park tends to be attracted by the natural local resources, such as the natural tracking trails, the beauty of the waterfall, the freshness of the air at the park. Thus, it is recommended that continuous efforts should be taken to protect and maintain the quality of the destination resources and attractiveness for its sustainability.
Tourists’ Satisfaction and Revisit Intention
Next, the statistical findings also revealed that tourists’ satisfactions are positively related to revisit intention, thus indicating that hypothesis 4 is supported. The findings are corresponding with past studies which indicated the satisfaction and revisit intention have positive relationship (Banki et al., 2014, Chin et al., 2018; Mensah, 2013). In line with the TPB theory, tourists who are satisfied with the quality of service at the national park are encouraged to revisit to the national park due to favourable behavior towards the tourism destination. Tourists who are satisfied with location and travel experience tend to revisit and create positive word of mouth toward the destination (Chin et al., 2018; Qu et al., 2010; Um et al., 2006).
Local Communities’ Attitudes Moderates Accessibility Quality, Accommodation Quality, as well as Destination Resources and attraction on Tourists’ Satisfaction
On the other hand, statistical results have found that the local communities’ attitude did not affect the relationship between accessibility qualities, accommodation quality, destination resources and attractiveness and tourists’ satisfaction, thus hypotheses 5, 6 and 7 are rejected. It was found that local communities’ attitude will not enhance the relationship between the proposed independent variables to tourists’ satisfaction at the national park. Past studies (Andereck & Nyaupane, 2011; Lo et al., 2017) claimed that local communities’ attitude plays an important role in tour guiding, provide accommodation facilities for tourists and hosting events with favourable attitude. This research found that local communities' attitude does not impact in term tourist perception towards advancement of tourism destination competitiveness. Consequently, the reason for this could be the ownership of the national park belongs to the government and not the local community. For the community to play a significant role, it is suggested that local communities to be assigned some role in the management of the national park. Both the local community and park management team could have worked together to achieve greater development of the national park. That is community could assist managing the park and at the same time this could increase community’s income.
The funding for this project was made possible through the research grant obtained from Sarawak Multimedia Authority and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
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Ching, J., Lo, M., Mohamad, A. A., & Chin, C. (2020). Nature Lovers’ Perceptions On Quality Dimensions In Gunung Gading National Park, Sarawak. In & Z. Ahmad (Ed.), Progressing Beyond and Better: Leading Businesses for a Sustainable Future, vol 88. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 565-582). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.10.50