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World Heritage sites (WHS) can play an important role in promoting visitation to emerging and remote destinations. Guided by the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), this study aims to investigate factors that predict intentions to visit WHS.Design/methodology/approachSurvey questionnaires were used to collect data from visitors (n = 519) to four Western North American WHS. Partial least squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) was used to identify three reflective models (attitude toward visiting World Heritage, perceived behavioural control and intention to visit WHS in the future), three formative models (attitude toward World Heritage designation, social influence (subjective norms) to visit World Heritage and World Heritage tourism brand equity) and a structural model.FindingsWorld Heritage tourism brand equity and social influence were strong positive predictors of intentions to visit WHS in the future. Attitudes towards World Heritage designation, followed by World Heritage travel attitudes and perceived behavioural control, were progressively weaker, yet positive predictors. However, the latter two concepts’ impact was negligible.Originality/valueThis study addresses four deficiencies in tourism studies: TPB studies have failed to find consistent predictors of intentions to visit destinations; very few studies have attempted to verify the factors that predict visitation to WHS, despite the opportunities and costs that can arise from WHS-related tourism; few studies of tourists’ perceptions of World Heritage and related WHS travel intentions have been conducted in North America; and PLS-SEM was used to perform statistical methods not commonly used in tourism studies including formative models, importance-performance mapping and confirmatory tetrad analysis.
Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 6, 2018
Keywords: Brand equity; Brand attitude; Brand loyalty; Travel intentions; World Heritage; Theory of planned behaviour (TPB)
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