From the onset of this study, the importance of understanding the needs of Chinese travelers as a subsection of the global demand for tourists is highlighted because of their rising influence in the tourism and travel sector. The goal of this investigation is to understand the impact that Chinese cuisines would have on the tourism industry by investigating their impact on people’s traveling behaviors and decisions. Three main research objectives guide this study and they are centered on investigating the impact of the authenticity of Chinese cuisines on travel behavior, assessing the role of a restaurant’s physical environment in enriching one’s travel experience, and understanding the impact that cuisines have on customer loyalty standards.
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Drawing from evidence gathered from 50 Chinese travelers, this study affirms that food authenticity, the design of restaurants’ physical space, and customer loyalty standards share a positive relationship with people’s travel behaviors. This finding means that Chinese cuisines have a significant impact on the tourism industry based on their influence on the behaviors of travelers. Therefore, recommendations are made to pay attention to Chinese cuisines as an important attraction for travelers.
Background of Study
Food has always been an overlooked aspect of tourism product development despite its importance in enriching people’s travel experiences. However, recently, observers have started to appreciate it for the critical role it plays in fostering one’s understanding of local cultures because it is associated with people’s history and heritage (Rousta and Jamshidi, 2020). Indeed, the growing importance of food tourism stems from the sophistication of the modern traveler who wants to experience other cultures through their languages, food, and even dressing (Jeng, Snyder, and Chen, 2019). Therefore, there is a mindset shift among travelers, which makes them more receptive to food tourism.
There is a growing body of research papers that have documented changes in the behaviors of the modern traveler with indications showing that they are more environmentally conscious and are willing to adopt practices that promote a healthy lifestyle (Kasim and Wickens, 2020; Bozzi, 2020; Hong and McArthur, 2019; Boonsiritomachai and Phonthanukitithaworn, 2019). This behavior is driven by a growing interest in authentic lifestyles and a desire for high-quality travel experiences based on the need to gain insight into the lifestyles of people or communities that were hitherto known (Latif et al., 2020). Therefore, similar to language, fashion, and culture, people’s food cuisines play a critical role in informing the overall travel experiences of various groups of people.
Some countries have capitalized on the food tourism trend by developing markets to meet the needs of their loyal customers. For example, France and Italy’s tourism markets have been developed with this framework in mind because they enjoy vibrant food tourism industries (Travel Mole, 2021). Similarly, Spain has a highly developed food tourism industry and its success is dependent on the allure that local cuisines have on tourists who travel from various locations to sample local foods as part of their travel experience (Hong and McArthur, 2019). Therefore, food tourism plays an important role in the health and vibrancy of their tourism markets.
Despite acknowledging the importance of food tourism in maintaining the success of the larger hospitality industry, there is little appreciation of the changing mindsets affecting customers and travelers around the world regarding people’s travel experiences. Indeed, little is known of the role that food tourism would have on travelers’ experiences, which is an emerging concept in tourism studies
Sustained economic growth in China has created a growing class of affluent middle-class customers that are seeking new travel experiences around the world (Travel China Guide, 2021). Relative to this assertion, Chinese authorities estimated that there were 154 million outbound trips registered in 2019 (Statista, 2021). Figure 1 below shows that this number was registered at the peak of the Chinese travel market in 2019 before, it slumped in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdowns imposed in various destinations around the world.
The statistics highlighted above show that there has been a steady increase in the number of Chinese tourists traveling the world. The data could increase because China has a huge population and many more people will start to travel when restrictions are finally lifted (DeMicco et al., 2021; Xu, Kim, and Reijnders, 2020). This statement means that Chinese customers will play a significant role in defining the future of the food tourism industry. Consequently, there is a need to understand the role that cuisines play in facilitating the transition towards travel consciousness.
Despite the growing importance of the Chinese to the global tourism market, there is still limited understanding regarding the role that is played by their cuisines in influencing their travel performance. Therefore, unlike other groups of tourists, there is little understanding regarding the preferences that these customers have, especially regarding their food and travel experiences. Therefore, there is a growing interest regarding how to optimize the food experiences of Chinese travelers to mainstream them into the global tourism product package.
To understand the impact of Chinese cuisines on the tourism industry
- To find out whether the authenticity of Chinese cuisines can impact travel behaviors
- To understand the impact of physical space design of Chinese restaurants on travel behavior
- To examine the nature of the relationship between the liking for Chinese cuisines and customer loyalty
- Does the authenticity of Chinese cuisines impact travel behaviors?
- What is the impact of the physical space design of Chinese restaurants on travelers’ food experiences?
- What is the nature of the relationship between the liking for Chinese cuisines and customer loyalty standards?
- The authenticity of Chinese cuisines has a positive effect on travel behaviors
- The physical space design of Chinese restaurants has a positive impact on travel behavior
- The liking for Chinese cuisines has a positive impact on customer loyalty levels
Significance of Study
The findings developed from this investigation can be used to merge the present and past needs of food travelers to create a foundation for developing Chinese cuisine as a major tourist product. The information alluded to in the study will also be useful in helping international tourist destinations to develop products or packages that appeal to the needs of this fast-rising group of travelers. Indeed, it would be prudent for hotels and restaurants to understand factors that appeal to Chinese customers if they are to exploit their rising populations in international travel. This way, they can capitalize on the growing trend of Chinese people traversing the globe.
This chapter contains a summary and analysis of existing academic knowledge that is relevant to the research topic. Key sections of this chapter will highlight the relationship between food cuisines and tourism demand, as well as the main theoretical underpinning of the investigation. At the end of this chapter, the research gap will be highlighted and justifications for making recommendations developed.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, which categorizes human needs across five categories, including physiological, safety, esteem, love, and self-actualization, classifies tourism among the highest levels of need actualization (Uysal, Aydemir, and Genc, 2017). This categorization of needs is illustrated in figure 2 below.
Travelling portends the fulfillment of the highest level of human need, which is achieved when people feel that they have achieved their full potential (Maslow and General Press, 2019). The authenticity of the experience is enriched by having memorable times and experiencing new cuisines as part of a larger social interaction phase. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs model has been adapted to different industries and contexts of investigation. In the tourism and hospitality industry, researchers have used the same classification to understand the role of food tourism in a customer’s psychological needs classification (Uysal, Aydemir, and Genc, 2017). Relative to this line of inquiry, Maslow’s five levels of needs have been summarized into a group of four as outlined below.
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Importance of Food as a Tourism Driver
Physiological needs are defined as food, shelter, and clothing. Based on an extract from a book authored by Maslow and General Press (2019), food is classified as a physiological need. In this context of analysis, it is regarded as an important source of energy for human beings. However, in the context of the tourism and hospitality industry, it becomes more than a source of energy and instead takes the form of an experience characterized by people’s sense of touch, smell, and visual appeal. Therefore, from an industry perspective, food is being “romanticized” to appear more like a “source of pleasure,” as opposed to a “source of energy,” as traditionally conceived.
Food has also been used as a driver for promoting tourism activities, especially among travelers who go to destinations to sample local cultures (Koch et al., 2018). For example, those who are visiting a country to seek medical treatment are likely to travel to destinations whey they can get healthy foods as part of their treatment plans (Stoyanov, 2017). At the same time, it is possible for people to experience new locations simply by sampling what other people eat. In such contexts, food is a primary motivator for travel.
Cultural needs are signified by the desire to experience new forms of arts and learn about how other communities live. Food has some cultural value attached to it because it is part of the ethnocultural identity of a country (Calandre and Ribert, 2019). Therefore, to experience the culture of a country or a group of people, it is important to experience their food. In this analysis, food emerges as a key driving force for understanding people’s cultural activities. In other words, it can be a motivator for choosing to take part in a trip, or not.
The fulfillment of interpersonal needs, which is achieved when tourists meet new people in their travels, can be achieved through food tourism. Indeed, understanding the interpersonal motives of food, as a driver of tourism activities, requires the recognition of different experiences that eating out portends to tourists compared to eating in (Monterrosa et al., 2020).
Therefore, the interpersonal motives for eating out are magnified by the similarity of people’s dining experiences. Relative to this assertion, several research studies point out that the superiority of one’s experience when consuming food as being more important than the quality of the food itself (Vu et al., 2019; Marder et al., 2019; Musgrave, Jopson and Jamson, 2021). For example, developing close interpersonal relationships over a course of the meal is more valuable than the meal itself to a group of people. Therefore, food can be used as a tool for optimizing people’s desire to make new connections or nurture existing ones.
Status and Prestige
The role of food in increasing one’s status and prestige is amplified by the realization of self-actualization needs, which are associated with the prestige given to travelers who visit new destinations to sample local food and culture (Liu and Li, 2020). People’s dining experiences can be regarded as prestigious or of “high status,” especially if the consumption of certain foods is given higher social meaning compared to others. For example, experiencing five-star dining at a high-end hotel could be a significant motivator for people who want to travel to a new location. In this context of analysis, food is used as a prop for maintaining a higher social standing and has been used as a criterion for deciding whether one should take part in a trip, or not (Jallinoja, 2019). These insights suggest that food can be a source of prestige and admiration.
The cuisine adopted by a community or group of people depends on the ingredients or techniques chosen when preparing food. Scholars note that the difference between different cuisines comes from the traditions, customs, and ingredients of food that are unique to a group of people, which makes it part of their customs, in terms of food preparation (Kunto and Bras, 2019). Globally, there are various types of cuisines, each indigenous to the local food production and preparation dynamics.
As its name suggests, food preparation and ingredients that are unique to the African people characterize African cuisines. Typically, the main ingredients used to prepare such foods, include cereals, milk, beef, and meat products (Haggblade et al., 2016). Again, these ingredients vary across different regions on the continent because, in some parts of it, some ingredients are rarely used because of sourcing challenges (Haggblade et al., 2016). For example, in some parts of tropical Africa, milk products rarely feature in their cuisines because of the scarcity of the product due to the low presence of livestock in such zones.
The continent also has a rich diverse demographic makeup that gives food enthusiasts insights into different food products available on the continent. For example, the food cuisines served in East and West Africa differ in terms of the ingredients used and the combination of food served (van der Plas et al., 2021). For example, while wheat products feature in many East African cuisines, it seldom appears in West African cuisines. These differences exist under the wider conception of African cuisines and they play an important role in determining how tourists have their unique travel experiences on the continent.
Similar to African cuisines, Asian cuisines also differ in terms of the varied regions making up the continent. For example, there are differences in East, South, Southeast, Central, and West Asian cuisines based on variations in ingredients and food preparation activities used. Ingredients used in East and Southeast Asia largely come from Chinese influences on local cooking habits (Stevens et al., 2016). Nonetheless, rice emerges as a common type of food in many Asian cuisines, while the use of heavy spices is more commonly practiced in Indian cuisines.
European cuisines refer to foods that are associated with many European countries including western countries of the world (Foley, Gunson, and Baumann, 2020). The ingredients and food preparation activities associated with European cuisines are often non-indigenous to the people, of Oceania, North America, Latin America, and Australasia. European cuisine enthusiasts love foods that are rich in beef, potatoes, sausages, and beef (Lindblom and Mustonen, 2019).
Cuisines associated with Oceania countries are typically linked with those of Australia and New Zealand (Fusté-Forné, 2020). Native aboriginals living in the above-mentioned nations originally prepared Oceania foods and they included bush food and some European-influenced dishes (Fusté-Forné, 2020). These cuisines differ in ingredients based on the availability of food and abundance of certain animal species in specific regions. For example, fish is a common delicacy in South Pacific Islands because of the abundance of this animal species due to its close proximity to ocean waters (Fusté-Forné, 2020). Although these foods vary across regions, the Oceania cuisine seems to contain fewer variations than the African and Asian cuisines.
Cuisines of the Americas
The cuisines of the Americas vary across different regions of the North and South Continents. These types of foods are predominantly occupied by the influences of people who came to the Americas from their primary countries of origin (Matta, 2021). Originally, most of these people came from Europe, but over the years, their influences have been diffused by local cultures – some of them multi-ethnic (Nakamura et al., 2019). Most of the ingredients used to prepare these foods come from maize, beans, and potatoes. However, different regions have varying cuisines with the most common ones being the Mexican, North American, Central, and South American cuisines.
Food and Cultural Appeal
The cultural appeal of a country or destination is a key driver of tourism products. Food plays a critical role in shaping this appeal because it helps to explain people’s history and culture (Bakir et al., 2017). Research studies have pointed out that people’s food helps to explain stories about warmth and embrace within the family unit or a social group (Liew, Hussin, and Abdullah, 2021). For example, in some cultures, food was instrumental in bringing the people together and it was associated with feelings of gratefulness, fondness, and joy (Liew, Hussin, and Abdullah, 2021).
Therefore, it holds strong value to people’s identity because it helps them to explain to others who they are. On a macro scale, food acts as a tool of cultural identity, which is passed down from one generation to another (Lee, 2021). This value ties to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, which highlights the role that it plays in promoting a sense of pride and cultural awareness among groups of people.
To demonstrate the importance of food in understanding people’s cultural experiences, the link between food tourism and anthropology has to be mentioned. Indeed, as seen through the works of Wang, Yang, and Li (2021), archeologists have been looking for evidence to explain how our ancestors lived and worked by investigating the kind of foods they used to eat. This type of information helps them to understand the economic practices people used to engage in to get food and how the level of technological sophistication that was available to them, at the time, helped to process it (Schrock et al., 2019). Therefore, food anthropology emerges as a sub-discipline in the larger body of knowledge characterizing the field of anthropology.
The insights highlighted above show that food not only satisfies people’s physiological needs but also acts as a medium of communication across families and within communities. The sophistication of food tourism has permeated people’s attitudes, beliefs, and practices to incorporate varied ethnic and cultural dimensions. Therefore, it is difficult for travelers to study a country and develop a comprehensive ethnographic understanding of its people if the role of food across all levels of community leadership is ignored.
The findings highlighted in this literature review highlight different classifications of cuisines and explain how they have affected people’s travel experiences. Particularly, insights that explain the relationship between food and culture highlight the extent that which nutrition is ingrained into people’s cultural experiences and sense of identity. The relationship highlights why food tourism influences travel patterns across the tourism industry.
The growing importance of food in enriching people’s travel experiences, especially among young travelers, highlights the importance of understanding the impact of cuisines on the tourism industry. However, there is a gap in the literature, which is denoted by the lack of research on the impact that Chinese cuisines may have on the travel industry given the growing importance of Chinese tourists as a subset of the world’s travel market. Then current research aims to fill this gap by understanding the impact of Chinese cuisines on the global tourism market.
This chapter outlines the techniques used by the researcher to answer the study questions. The main items described in the investigation related to the approach, design, strategies, and techniques selected by the researcher to obtain and analyze data. Information relating to the ethics of the study and its limitations are also addressed.
The philosophy underpinning a study is important in understanding a researcher’s beliefs regarding various aspects of data collection and analysis. The positivism research philosophy was the main selection for the study because it was dependent on empirical evidence to make conclusions about the study (Bazeley, 2017). In this framework, the role of the researcher is limited to making factual assessments of the data objectively.
The researcher used the mixed methods approach as the main framework for carrying out the investigation. This technique works by integrating qualitative and quantitative aspects of data into a research process (Kumar, 2018). Therefore, it provides a hybrid analysis of research issues based on the strength of evidence collected.
The researcher collected data using questionnaires that were administered to Chinese travelers. The survey questionnaires were administered to the respondents virtually to transcend geographical limitations that would have made it difficult to carry out the investigation physically. The survey questionnaires were adapted from the work of Zhang, Chen, and Hu (2019), which sampled the views of research respondents regarding their food and tourism experiences. The questionnaire was divided into two parts with the first one sampling demographic details, including age, gender, and education qualifications, while the second part sought to find out the respondents’ views regarding food authenticity, customer loyalty, and the physical environment (see the appendix section).
The researcher interviewed 50 respondents who gave their views regarding the influence of Chinese cuisines on their travel experiences. The participants were recruited through travel websites and social media pages frequented by Chinese tourists. Their demographic profiles were captured in the first part of the questionnaire, which sought to find out their ages, gender, and education qualifications.
The researcher sampled the informants, who were Chinese citizens, living in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan. They were recruited using a simple random sampling technique, which gives researchers an equal participant taking part in a study (Kim et al., 2018). This sampling method helped to minimize bias in recruiting respondents, which makes it easier to generalize the findings across a large population of Chinese travelers.
The findings of the study were analyzed using the Statistical Packages for the Social Sciences (SPSS) technique – version 24. This application has been extensively used in social research and praised for its competencies in analyzing large volumes of information (Guo and Hou, 2021; van Wingerde and van Ginkel, 2021).
The participants who took part in the investigation did so voluntarily – meaning that they were not coerced or incentivized to take part in the study. This plan was aimed at safeguarding the integrity of information obtained because it is important for respondents to give their views in an environment where they feel free to do so (Braun, Ravn, and Frankus, 2020). Therefore, all the respondents who took part in the study did so voluntarily.
Anonymity and Confidentiality
The views presented in this report were delinked from the identities of the participants who took part in the investigation. Therefore, the names of the informants were not published in the findings. The aim of doing so was to protect them from any implications of giving their views in the study. This strategy aligns with the views of Davies (2020) who emphasizes the importance of researchers to protect the identity of respondents, especially in primary research investigations. Therefore, the researcher presented the views obtained from the study anonymously and maintained confidentiality through the data analysis and presentation phases.
Reliability and Validity of Findings
Before the questionnaires were administered to the respondents, they were subjected to a pilot study to understand their efficacy in data collection. This study involved 10 people and their feedback during data collection was useful in evaluating the wording and layout of the survey questionnaire. The pilot study findings caused significant changes in the wording of the questionnaires but did not raise significant reliability or validity issues in the course of its implementation.
Findings and Discussions
This chapter highlights the findings of the research investigation based on the implementation of research techniques highlighted in chapter 3 above. To recap, the researcher collected information from respondents using the questionnaire survey technique, which captured their demographic details and views regarding the research topic. The findings are highlighted below.
The first part of the questionnaire sought to find out the demographic characteristics of the respondents. Key demographic characteristics sampled in this part of the investigation included gender, age, and education qualifications.
According to table 4.1 below, most of the participants who took part in the investigation were female travelers. They represented 52% of the total sample of people who participated in the study, while their male counterparts accounted for 48% of the same sample.
Table 4.1 Gender findings (Source: Developed by Author).
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
The higher percentage of female respondents who took part in the study could be due to the high number of female travelers compared to male travelers that are explained by Bozzi (2020) in her gender analysis of global travelers.
Table 4.2 below shows that most of the participants who took part in the study were aged 55 years or older. The smallest percentage of informants was made up of those below 45 years.
Table 4.2 Age findings (Source: Developed by Author).
|What is your age?|
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
|Valid||Above 55 years||25||50.0||50.0||50.0|
The age disparities highlighted above could be due to the high number of older travelers who can afford to travel compared to their younger counterparts (Boonsiritomachai and Phonthanukitithaworn, 2019). Stated differently, older persons have accumulated financial resources to travel compared to their younger counterparts.
Education Qualification Findings
Table 4.3 below shows the distribution of respondents according to their educational qualifications. The largest percentage of participants was made up of those who had a diploma certificate and they represented 48% of the total population.
Table 4.3 Education Qualifications (Source: Developed by Author).
|What is your educational qualification|
|Frequency||Percent||Valid Percent||Cumulative Percent|
|Valid||Master’s or higher||4||8.0||8.0||8.0|
|Primary School or Lower||5||10.0||10.0||100.0|
Descriptive Statistics Findings
There were 14 statements posed to the respondents to describe the impact that their experiences about the authenticity of Chinese food and physical spaces from which to consume food affected their travel behaviors. The discussion also sought to sample their opinions regarding the effect that Chinese cuisines would have on their loyalty to travel destinations. The findings are highlighted in Table 4.4 below
Table 4.4 Descriptive Statistics (Source: Developed by Author).
|Valid N (listwise)||50|
According to the statistics highlighted above, most of the respondents either “strongly agreed,” “agreed.” or were nonchalant about the impact that Chinese cuisines would have on their travel behaviors. The most neutral force was observed in discussions that investigated the relationship between Chinese cuisines on customer loyalty because the mean was 3. The impact of physical spacing and design on travel behavior was stronger because the average mean was 1.8, signifying a favorable response to the statements posed to the respondents.
The findings also showed that the authenticity of Chinese food affected their travel behaviors because the mean for the first four statements was less than two – signifying favorability of views. Collectively, these findings show that hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 were affirmed by the findings.
Affirming the hypotheses that guided this study helps to show consistency between the current findings and those of other researchers who have investigated the same research phenomenon. Particularly, the findings highlighted in this paper seem to affirm those of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, which places people’s travel experiences at the top of the priority list of needs. This is why food tourism should be a top concern for hotels and tourism establishments because it enriches people’s travel experiences. Coupled with the history and culture that follows it, food tourism emerges as a significant force affecting the tourism industry.
Conclusion and Recommendations
At the onset of this study, the importance of understanding the needs of Chinese travelers, as a subsection of global travelers, was highlighted. The goal was to understand the impact that Chinese cuisines would have on the tourism industry by investigating their impact on people’s travel behaviors. Three main research objectives guided the study and they were centered on investigating the impact of Chinese cuisines on travel behavior based on an evaluation of authenticity, physical design space, and customer loyalty standards.
Drawing from evidence gathered from Chinese travelers, this study affirms the first, second, and third hypotheses because food authenticity, physical space designs of restaurants, and customer loyalty standards shared a positive relationship with Chinese cuisines. This finding means that Chinese cuisines have a significant impact on the tourism industry based on their influence on travel behaviors.
The findings of this investigation highlight the importance of Chinese cuisines in influencing the travel experiences of the informants sampled. This finding means that marketers need to pay attention to food tourism as an important part of their travel product experiences. Particularly, they need to pay attention to perfecting or making available Chinese cuisines in their restaurants because it increases the likelihood of meeting the needs of this growing customer group. Making modifications to the physical spaces of the restaurants should also play a critical role in enriching the travel experiences of Chinese travelers because it completes the dining experiences of the travelers whether they are in China or out of the country. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the holistic understanding of people’s travel experiences if positive travel behaviors are to be realized.
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Zhang, T., Chen, J. and Hu, B. (2019) Authenticity, quality, and loyalty: local food and sustainable tourism experience. Sustainability, 11(9), pp. 1-18.
Topic: A Critical Analysis of the Impact of Chinese Cuisine on Tourism
Industry and Consumers
Please tick (✔) the box that best describes you
In this section, we would like you to answer some questions about the impact that Chinese cuisines have had on your tourism experiences. Please think about the effect that the cuisines would have on you travel behaviors and circle the number that best describes your reactions.
|Food Authenticity||Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neither Agree nor Disagree||Agree||Strongly Agree|
|S1.||I look for authentic Chinese food when I travel||5||4||3||2||1|
|S2.||I prefer to eat in restaurants whose Chefs have authentic Chinese dressing||5||4||3||2||1|
|S3.||Eating in a Chinese restaurant makes me feel authentic||5||4||3||2||1|
|S4.||I like eating food made with local Chinese ingredients||5||4||3||2||1|
|Physical Environment||Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neither Agree nor Disagree||Agree||Strongly Agree|
|S5.||I would choose to eat in a restaurant with authentic Chinese designs compared to one that does not||5||4||3||2||1|
|S6.||Restaurants that have Chinese interior and decoration appeal to me||5||4||3||2||1|
|S7.||I prefer to eat in restaurants that have Chinese cutlery, tables, and chairs||5||4||3||2||1|
|S8.||Chinese restaurants that have appropriate natural lighting enrich my travel experience||5||4||3||2||1|
|S9.||I prefer to order food using Chinese menus||5||4||3||2||1|
|Loyalty||Strongly Disagree||Disagree||Neither Agree nor Disagree||Agree||Strongly Agree|
|S10.||I am likely to come back again to restaurants that serve Chinese cuisines||5||4||3||2||1|
|S11.||Chinese cuisines satisfy my overall food cravings||5||4||3||2||1|
|S12.||Chinese food are reasonably priced and offer great value for money||5||4||3||2||1|
|S13.||I would recommend a Chinese restaurant to a friend||5||4||3||2||1|
|S14.||Eating Chinese food is a unique and enjoyable experience||5||4||3||2||1|
Thank you for participating in the study!