CRISIS IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY AND THEIR EFFECTS ON YOUNG TRAVELLERS

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ABSTRACT

The objective of this thesis was to explore the impact of crises on young travellers. The focus was on large scale crises in the tourism industry, including the following: terrorism, natural catastrophes and health crises. The intention was to examine further which large scale crises are regarded as the most frightening, how young travellers would act if some crises occured in their travel destination or on their travel route and, finally, whether the media has influenced the attitude to crises.

The theoretical framework is based on defining the concept of crisis, taking a deeper look into large scale crises in the tourism industry including terrorism, natural catastrophes and health crises. In addition, literature on the effects of crises on travellers’ travel behaviour was introduced.

The chosen research method was a quantitative survey directed to young travellers. The study was conducted by means of a web-based questonnaire. The target group, young travellers between 18 and 28 years, was reached via social network Facebook. The questionnaire presented ten questions including both open-ended and closed-ended questions.


The main result of the survey revealed that young travellers do not seem to be so concerned about the large scale crises. Surprisingly, the most scared crisis was pandemics which is also the most avoidable one. Male respondents seem to be less worried about crises than female respondents. However, depending on the severity and seriousness of a crisis situation, young travellers are likely to change their travel destination to a safer one. Finally, young travellers follow news a lot when looking for safety information on a travel destination and in that way the media has a big impact on their travel behaviour, too.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

1          Introduction

2          What is a crisis?

3          Crises in the tourism industry
            3.1       Terrorism
            3.2       Natural catastrophes
            3.3       Health crises
            3.4       How do crises and media influence travellers’ behaviour?
            3.5       Summary of the theoretical framework

4          Method discussion
            4.1       Quantitative survey as a research method
            4.2       Background information of the questionnaire
            4.3       Collecting the data via social network
            4.4       Data analysis

5          Results of the survey and analysis
            5.1       Demographic factors
            5.2       Respondents as travellers
            5.3       Young travellers’ concerns about crises
            5.4       Impacts of crisis situations on travel behaviour
            5.5       Most frightening countries among young travellers
            5.6       Young travellers’ personal experiences on crisis situations

6          Validity and reliability of the survey

7          Conclusion

Attachments


1    Introduction


Indian Ocean tsunami, SARS, swine flu pandemic, 9/11, 2001 and the volcanic ash cloud are examples of large scale crises that have had huge impact on the global tourism industry and on travelling at least at a short term. People hear a lot about these through media and are increasingly aware of these. This thesis concentrates on young travellers between 18 and 28 years since they represent the future of the tourism industry. In the World Youth and Student Conference in 2010 the main point that emerged was that both travel industry and governments need to recognise the size and potential of youth travel market. (Simpson 2010.)


This thesis investigates the effects of different tourism crises on young travellers’ travel behaviour and which crises young people are most worried about. The research problem can be defined by the following questions:
§    Which large-scale crises are the most frightening among young travellers?

§    What young travellers would do if some crises occurred in their travel destination or on their travel route?

§   Do media have an influence on the fear for the crises?

Furthermore, the aim is to explore whether there are any differences between genders and a country of residence.


The term traveller is being used in this thesis to signify both individual bookers and package holidayers. According to Swarbook & Horner (2007, 84-85.), the words traveller and tourist have different meanings. A tourist is a person who takes part in package tours. While a traveller makes vacation bookings individually and travels for an extended period of time, usually backpacking on a limited budget. However, most people call themselves travellers even though they buy tourist packages.



A crisis can be described as a triggering event which causes or has a potential to cause significant change. Every crisis is unique and unexpected; urgency and danger are characteristics for these. (Hermann 1972 in Henderson 2007, 3.) The tourism industry has suffered from terrorist attacks, health crises and natural disasters during the past years. These are that types of crises that you can hear about through the media. In addition, this thesis is concentrated on these crises because a traveller does not have any influence on these circumstances. Moreover, the theory part has to be limited somehow without making it too extensive.


The chosen research method was a quantitative survey directed to young travellers. Nowadays young people use a lot Internet and social media which is why social network Facebook was used to collect the respondents to the survey. There was a web-based questionnaire made and the target group was reached via social network Facebook. The participants of the survey were international young travellers between 18 and 28 years of age. The aim was to collect at least 200 answers in order to present a valid survey.


The results will be interesting for all entrepreneurs in the tourism industry, because the topic is very current and young travellers represent the future of the tourism industry. Entrepreneurs need to organize their business in a manner that terrorism, natural catastrophes, pandemics or any other tourism crises does not affect the business. The biggest concerns in the minds of young travellers will be investigated and some ideas how businesses should react will be created.


Crises in the tourism industry is a current topic and new for researches as well. According to Swarbook & Horner (2007, 97.), very little research has been conducted on this subject and as many crises are happening in the tourism industry, people should understand more about how tourists react to these situations. It was not possible to find any similar studies made in Finland. However, one thesis has been written for MEK, the Finnish Tourist Board, about the role of safety and security perceptions and safety threats in the tourism industry (Ralli & Saloranta 2005).


The theory part defines the concept of crisis, crises in tourism industry including terrorism, health crises and natural catastrophes and also crises’ effects on travellers’ travel behaviour. The keywords of this thesis are tourism crises, terrorism, natural catastrophes, health crises and young travellers.


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This is a General Thesis for both Undergraduate & Postgraduate Studies. The complete research material plus questionnaire and references can be obtained at an affordable price of N3,000 within Nigerian or its equivalent in other currencies.


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