Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 31:1004-1017, 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 1054-8408 print / 1540-7306 online
Taylor &. Francis Group
SATISFACTION OF TOURISTS WITH PUBLIC
TRANSPORT: AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
Sanjai Kumar Parahoo
Heather Lea Harvey
Gihad Yakoob Abdelrahim Radi
ABSTRACT, Availability and suitability of public transport enhances the perceived attractiveness of a destination for tourists. Since few studies have investigated how public transport influenced the tourist experience, this study developed and empirically examined a parsimonious conceptual model of satisfac tion for tourists using public transport services, with quality and value postulated to influence value, which in turn influenced satisfaction. Using data collected from a judgmental sample of 169 tourists using the
Dubai metro, confirmatory factor analysis was used to develop unidimensional and valid measures, after which the study hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling. Reputation (gamma = 0.99, p < 0.01) was found to influence satisfaction via value, while quality was unexpectedly not found to be a driver for value. Various theoretical and managerial implications are discussed.
KEYWORDS. Public transport, metro, satisfaction, quality, value, reputation, Dubai
Scholars have acknowledged the influence of both availability and suitability of public trans port on the perceived attractiveness of a desti nation for tourists (Laws, 1995; Pritchard &
Havitz, 2006), with the mobility of tourists vis iting large cities being recognized as an essen tial factor for their comfort (Albalate & Bel, 2010). In this regard, the quality of transport at tourist destinations has been determined to influence visitor experience, their overall satis faction, and their decision to return in future (Thompson & Schofield, 2007). However, with a few exceptions, there has been limited inves tigation of the factors driving tourist usage of public transport services within destination locations.
For example, in a study in the United States (US), Avgoustis and Achanca (2002) found that
Sanjai Kumar Parahoo, School of Business and Quality Management, Postgraduate Program Director,
Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University; Dubai International Academic City; PO Box 71400; Dubai; UAE (E-mails: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org).
At the time of writing this paper, Heather Lea Harvey was a faculty at Dubai Women’s College, Shaijah.
She is currently an assistant professor of Public Health, Thammasat University, Rangsit Campus, Klong
Luang, Pathumthani 12121, Thaliand (E-mail: email@example.com).
At the time of writing this paper, Gihad Yakoob Abdelrahim Radi was a PG student at Hamdan Bin
Mohammed e-University; Dubai International Academic City; PO Box 71400; Dubai; UAE. He is currently the managing director Monarchy Tourism (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Address correspondence to: Sanjai Kumar Parahoo, School of Business and Quality Management,
Hamdan Bin Mohammed e-University, Dubai International Academic City, PO Box 71400, Dubai, UAE (E-mails: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org). 1004
Parahoo, Harvey, and Radi 1005 visitors to Indianapolis rated the availability of local transportation services fourth in impor tance among the 14 attributes that determined destination satisfaction, and the authors further determined that the availability of local trans portation also influenced visitors’ choice of the destination. Others (e.g. Bakucz, 2002) focused on transport performance attributes such as “ease of getting around the city” and “accessi bility of the city”. Consequently, in order to achieve satisfaction of visitors, urban authorities have developed specific transport strategies tar geted at tourist segments. In Asia, the Taipei
MRT Company attempted to increase the num ber of inbound tourists by providing a better travel experience (Chang & Lai, 2009). While a study in four European cities (Russo & van der Borg, 2002) determined that specific soft elements of the urban tourism product deter mined the attractiveness of a city for tourists, and yet these elements were often overlooked by city planners. More recently, Leung, Woo, and Ly (2013) investigated the effects of dis tance decay (i.e., cultural distance measured by
Hofstede Uncertainty Avoidance index, and physical distance) on overall service satisfaction of tourists visiting Hong Kong, based on the tourists’ perceptions of individual service qual ity attributes across local-based airlines, public transportation, and government services. The authors found that while cultural distance had a negative relationship with overall tourist satis faction, physical distance showed the opposite result. Nonetheless, limited research attention has been devoted to investigating how public transport influenced the tourist experience (Thompson & Schofield, 2007).
Consequently, to further the understanding of tourist satisfaction with a destination, the pre sent study took a consumer perspective of pub lic transport, investigating the factors that drove satisfaction of tourists with public transport ser vices in the destination area. The objective of this study was therefore to develop a conceptual model of satisfaction for tourists that would be of theoretical interest by contributing to the sparse related literature, as well as of practical interest by providing insights into enhancing the experiences of tourists at destinations.
The new metro service launched in 2009 in
Dubai by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) was selected as empirical context. The metro comprises of 46 stations on two lines connecting two terminals at the international airport to major landmarks and shopping malls of the city, and achieving the milestone of over 100 million passenger trips in 2012 (Dubai
Statistics Center, 2013). Dubai ranks among the top 10 tourist destinations worldwide with the Emirate expecting to attract 8.8 million international visitors in 2012 (eTN Global