Critical Factors Affecting Selection of Travel Destinations: A Case Study in Vietnam

  • Received : 2021.05.30
  • Accepted : 2021.08.15
  • Published : 2021.09.30


This study is conducted to fill the research gap in proposing and testing the relationship between "Attitudes about the overall image of the destination", "Subjective norms" and "Perceived behavioral control". Simultaneously, we examine the relationship between these variables and tourists' "intent to choose a destination.". While most previous studies only deal with the relationship between destination image and intended behavior of tourists, this study uses the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) to explain the intended behavior of tourists. In addition, the Theory of Destination Image (Echtner & Ritchie, 1991) is used to explain the factor "attitudes about the overall image of the destination", contribute to supplementing and perfecting the Theory of Planned Behavior. This study uses a Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to analyze a sample of 993 observations, the subjects of which are international tourists to Vietnam, to test the relationship between second-order constructs. The test results show that "Subjective norms" and "Perceived behavioral control" have an impact on "Attitudes about the overall image of the destination". Moreover, all these three factors have an impact on "Intent to choose destination", in which the factor "Perceived behavioral control" has the greatest impact on "intention to choose destination".


1. Introduction

In the new era, tourism has risen to become the most important economic activity on a global scale, and the tourism and travel industry has made a considerable contribution to the global economy. Tourism is recognized as one of the key growth industries in all countries and is a major source of income, employment creation, and wealth creation for many countries. Despite the fact that global tourism is growing at a faster rate than other industries, tourism is still in its early stages, resulting in rising competition among tourist destinations throughout the world (Buhalis, 2000).

In general, tourist attractions have responded to a drop in visitor numbers by expanding their marketing budget. (Buhalis, 2000; Crouch & Ritchie, 1999). However, the performance of this strategy was not as anticipated; the reason is that more and more destinations spend more on marketing and most of them was wrong to target the market leading to limited results (Crouch & Ritchie, 1999).

The widening range of destination choices and the increasing competition between destinations means, that tourists have more opportunities to choose their desired final destination. Therefore, destination management organizations (DMOs) must strive to enhance the image of tourist destinations by improving the quality of the visitor experience, creating differentiated values to attract visitors, enhancing the quality of the tourist experience, high-quality infrastructure, creating more space and recreational activities for visitors, among others (Qu et al., 2011; Le & Le, 2020). A lot of research in the world has mostly focused on improving destination image, and enhancing visitor satisfaction, improving destination quality to attract visitors (Setiawan et al., 2021). However, it is not enough to improve the destination image, satisfaction, service quality, etc. It is also and necessary to understand tourism motivations, influencing social factors (subjective Norms), income, vacation time (perceived behavioral control). Understanding the above crucial factors has significant consequences for tourism-related authorities’ planning, particularly in determining each destination’s marketing approach. As a result, the goal of this research is to provide destination managers with a more thorough understanding of tourists’ attitudes toward destinations, subjective normative factors, control of perceived behavior, and how these elements influence tourists’ choice of destination. From there, it helps policymakers identify important factors in Vietnam that can attract tourists, pinpoint issues that need improvement, and pinpoint content to promote to attract tourists.

2. Theoretical Background

2.1. Theory of Planned Behavior

Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) was an extension of the theory of reasoned action-TRA (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975; Fishbein et al., 1980). The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) started as the Theory of Reasoned Action in 1980 to predict an individual’s intention to engage in a behavior at a specific time and place. The theory was intended to explain all behaviors over which people have the ability to exert self-control. The key component to this model is behavioral intent; behavioral intentions are influenced by the attitude about the likelihood that the behavior will have the expected outcome and the subjective evaluation of the risks and benefits of that outcome. Intention is assumed to ascertain motivational factors influencing behavior.

Attitude refers to a person’s opinion of whether a behavior is positive or negative (Fishbein et al., 1980). Attitude is a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Attitude in this study refers to the attitude of tourists about the destination image because many previous studies have demonstrated that the overall attitude about the destination image has an impact on the intention to choose the destination. (Almeida et al., 2020; Echtner & Ritchie, 2003; Hunt, 1975; Zhang et al., 2014).

According to the theory of reasoned action (Figure 1), subjective norms can be formed via perceived normative beliefs from people and social circumstances surrounding tourists, namely family, friends, colleagues, industry, and media (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1975). Perceived behavioral control refers to people’s perceptions of their ability to perform a given behavior (Ajzen, 1991).

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Figure 1: Theory of Planned Behavior

According to the definition of Buhalis (2000), selection intention is the transformation of motivation into buying action. Tourists’ desire to visit a given location is accomplished through evaluating alternatives based on individual preferences and goals, or more accurately, evaluating tourism products based on individual evaluation criteria.

Based on the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991), the study found that there are 3 factors affecting the intention to choose a destination, including (1) overall attitude about the destination image; (2) subjective norms; (3) perceived behavioral control. However, the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) has not specifically mentioned the overall attitude about the destination image. Therefore, to clarify this factor, we need to learn more about destination image theory.

2.2. Theory of Destination Image

Destination image is the expression of all knowledge, impressions, prejudices, and thoughts, feelings, emotions of an individual or group about a particular object or place (Echtner & Ritchie, 1991).

Echtner and Ritchie (1991) are the pioneers to propose “three axes of destination image”, which most fully represent the components of destination image, namely: (1) attributes and comprehensive; (2) common and unique; (3) functional and psychological.

According to the proposed model, the attribute and comprehensive axes refer to the individual element and the overall impression of the destination. Common - unique axis refers to the common, similar elements about a destination (common to any destination) and what is unique, different, and unique only in that destination. The functional psychological axis refers to components that are directly observable and measurable (e.g. price) and intangibles that cannot be easily measured (e.g. friendliness).

Qu et al. (2011) identified the overall destination image of a locality, including four groups: (1) quality of experience (Baker et al., 1992); (2) factors that attract visitors; (3) environment and infrastructure (Vengesayi, 2008); (4) recreation and outdoor activities (Buhalis, 2000; Swarbrooke, 2001).

3. Research Model and Hypotheses

Based on the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991), we have identified three groups of factors affecting the intention to choose a tourist destination. In addition, based on the Theory of Destination Image (Echtner & Ritchie, 1991), four groups of factors have been identified that affect the overall attitude of tourists about the destination image; therefore, this study proposes the following research modQu et al. (2011) pointed out four groups of factors that have a positive impact on the overall attitude about the image of a tourist destination (Echtner & Ritchie, 1991; Hsu et al., 2009). Therefore, in this study, the following hypothesis was proposed (Figure 2).

H1: Experience quality has a positive impact on overall attitudes about tourist destination image hình.

H2: Attraction factors have a positive impact on the overall attitude of tourist destination image.

H3: Experience environment and infrastructure have a positive impact on the overall attitude of tourist destination image.

H4: Outdoor activities and leisure have a posi­tive impact on the overall attitude of tourist destination image.

The theory of intended behavior (Ajzen, 1991) has shown three factors that have a positive effect on the intended behavior of tourists (Han & Kim, 2010; Phetvaroon, 2006;). Therefore, this study poses the following hypotheses (Figure 2).

H5: Perceived behavioral control has a positive impact on the overall attitude about the image of a tourist destination.

H6: Subjective Norms has a positive impact on the overall attitude of tourist destination image.

H7: Overall attitude factor about tourist destination image has a positive impact on destination choice intention. H8: Subjective Norms have a positive impact on the intention to choose a destination.

H9: Perceived behavioral control has a positive impact on the intention to choose a destination.

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Figure 2: Research Model

4. Research Methodology

4.1. Measurement Development

Attitudes about overall destination image measurement scale 1. Experiential quality; 2. Attracting factor; 3. Environment and infrastructure; 4. Leisure and outdoor activities) was inherited from the research of Qu et al. (2011). The “subjective norm” scale was inherited from the research of Han and Kim (2010). The scale of “Perceived behavioral control” was inherited from the research of Han and Kim (2010). The scale of “Destinations selection intention” was inherited from the research of Phetvaroon (2006), and Han and Kim (2010).

4.2. Data Collection

A convenient random sampling method, with methods of EFA, CFA is applied in this study. The data collection method used is to send questionnaires directly to foreign tourists at famous attractions in Vietnam. Foreign tourists were surveyed in 9 provinces/cities with the largest number of tourists in the country. These 9 provinces represent the 3 regions of the North, the Central, and the South, namely: Ha Noi, Lao Cao, Quang Ninh, Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Da Lat, Sai Gon, and Can Tho. According to research data from January to December 2019, when 1500 interview questionnaires were given, the number of valid responses was 993. The questionnaire was built based on the above questions and supplemented with the following demographic information (Table 1).

Table 1: Participant Characteristic

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5. Results and Discussion

5.1. Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient Analysis

There were two items that did not meet the requirement. However, they are important variables so they will be kept for EFA. After EFA and scale retest, the results are shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Result of Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient Analysis

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5.2. Exploratory Factor Analysis

The results of EFA analysis for four independent variables in relation to “Attitudes about overall destination image” are as follows (Table 3).

Table 3: Variables and Items

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Table 3: Continued

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The KMO = 0.891 is over the required minimum, meeting the requirements for EFA analysis (Kaiser, 1974; Kaiser & Rice, 1974). Bartlett’s test has Sig = 0.000 < 0.05, which means that the four independent variables are correlated (Bartlett, 1937; Bartlett, 1950). The Eigenvalue = 2.662 above 1 is satisfactory (Hair et al., 2010). The Total Variance Explained = 62.897% showed that four independent variables can explain 62.9% of the dependent variable. This indicator is satisfactory (Hair et al., 2010).

The results of EFA analysis for three variables affecting “Destination selection intention” are as follows:

The KMO = 0.826 is over the required minimum. Bartlett’s test has Sig = 0.000 < 0.05, which means that the four independent variables are correlated. The Eigenvalue = 2.82 > 1 is accepted. The total variance explained = 62.5%, which shows that the three variables can explain 62.5% of the dependent variable.

5.3. Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) showed P = 0.000 < 0.05. This means all variables are accepted; CMIN/df = 2.058 < 3 meeting the requirements; GFI = 0.950 > 0.9; CFI = 0.961, TLI = 0.950; and RMSEA = 0.052 < 0.08, all meeting the requirements (Hair et al., 2010) (Figure 3).

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Figure 3: Unidirectionality Test Results

The combined reliability of the four variables (Table 4) is greater than 0.6; the extracted variance for the four variables is 0.5. This proves that the scales of the 4 variables are satisfactory (Hair et al., 2010).

Table 4: Reliability of the Scale in CFA

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The measurement results of standardized coefficients for the observed variables are greater than 0.5 and less than 1. The lowest value is CCQ1 with a value of 0.656, and the highest correlation between concepts is 0.468 < 0.656. With all P-values less than 0.001, it means the concepts meet the requirement for convergent and discriminant.

5.4. Hypothesis Test Results

The results show that CMIND/df = 2.178 greater than 1 and less than 3 is accepted; TLI = 0.933 and CFI = 0.939 are higher than 0.90; hence there is a better model fit. GFI is significant at a measurable level higher than 0.8. RMSEA is less than 0.5 indicating an acceptable and good model fit (Figure 4).

The results in Table 5 show that all p-values are less than 0.05 (at a significant level of 95%). All factors have an impact on the “Intention of choosing Vietnam as a destination”; this result is completely satisfactory (Phetvaroon, 2006). Besides, the strongest construct is the “perceived behavioral control”. This result is different from many previous studies which indicated destination image as the most important (Almeida-García et al., 2020; Echtner & Ritchie, 2003; Hunt, 1975; Zhang et al., 2014; Ritchie et al., 2000). Moreover, the “subjective norm” construct has a significant impact on the intention of choosing a destination, while many previous studies only study the impact of the destination image on the intention of choosing a destination (Almeida-García et al., 2020; Echtner & Ritchie, 2003). The result discovered two new constructs namely “subjective norm” and “perceived behavioral control” which leave an impact on the intention of choosing a travel destination.

The result was discussed with tourist experts (investors and researchers), and they believe in the consistency of the result. Experts indicated that during the epidemic period, tourists consider the level of “perceived behavioral control” as a significant contribution to choosing a destination, followed by two constructs “attitudes about the overall attractiveness of destination” and “subjective norm”.

Table 5: Regression Weights

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Note: *** indicates significant at 1% level of significance based on t−statistics

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Figure 4: Structural Model and Path Coefficients


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