The role of perceived fit in the destination choice
As tourism has significant economic and employment impacts, many countries promote new tourist destinations. However, few researchers have examined the mechanisms that influence tourists’ decisions to visit these newly-offered destinations, particularly those not yet in tourists’ evoked set. Drawing upon the push-pull framework and perceived fit theory, this research fills this gap by means of two experimental studies. Study 1 findings show that high perceived fit between travel motivations and destination image positively influences the intention to choose the new destination, and this effect is mediated by the perceived attractiveness of the destination. The findings from Study 2 indicate that the support of the destination community plays a moderating role in this mediating effect. In particular, the perceived attractiveness of the new destination is stronger and leads to the choosing intention only when the local community shows substantial support for the tourism development. Theoretically, perceived fit theory is applied in this research to better understand how the interplay between push and pull factors can explain tourist destination choice. Managerially, the findings can be used by destination marketers to implement effective support strategies when promoting newly-launched tourist destinations.
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