Pacific B usiness R eview I nternational

A Refereed Monthly International Journal of Management Indexed With Web of Science(ESCI)
ISSN: 0974-438X
Impact factor (SJIF):8.396
RNI No.:RAJENG/2016/70346
Postal Reg. No.: RJ/UD/29-136/2017-2019
Editorial Board

Prof. Mahima Birla
(Editor in Chief)

Dr. Khushbu Agarwal
(Editor)

Dr. Asha Galundia
(Circulation Manager)

Editorial Team

A Refereed Monthly International Journal of Management

 Paradigm Shift in Tourists’ Discernment ofSanitary Standards in

Trip Planning: Pre-COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19 Perception

 

Dr. Jasveen Kaur

Senior Faculty and

Former Chairperson-Head,

University Business School (UBS),

Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU),

Amritsar-143005 (Punjab, India).

 

Jobanjeet Kaur

Research Fellow,

University Business School (UBS),

Guru Nanak Dev University,

Amritsar-143005 (Punjab, India).

 

Abstract

Purpose: This empirical study aims to study paradigm shift in tourists’ discernment of the sanitary standards in trip planning pre and post-COVID-19 in India. 

Methodology: This study is based on primary &secondary data, systematic literature review, and experts’ opinions of tourism and hospitality areas. A web-based survey was done using the purposive and snowball sampling technique. Further, data was analysed using Paired samples t-test.

Findings: This study shows that tourists have become more concerned about sanitary standards at host destinations and accommodations while planning their trips, especially post-COVID-19, in contrast to pre-COVID-19. Tourists prefer a destination with fewer crowds and avoid travelling in a group. Further, tourists choose destinations and accommodations that follow standard operating procedures issued by India's government and health department. 

Managerial Implications: Tourism and hospitality marketers should focus on the sanitary standards and sustainable management of resources at the host destinations and accommodations to ensure the safety of tourists. It will help to attract more tourists, which will boost tourism in the country.  

Limiting Factors &Future Research Directions: This research is not geographically sensitive, which will affect tourists' responses if it were done in a specific geographical region. Qualitative study can explore the tourists' perception of hygiene and safety conditions at destinations and hotels. This will offer new insights into the study. Secondly, this study can be replicated in other industries, such as retailing. Comparative studies of developed and developing countries can be conducted to compare the coronavirus impact on the travellers’ perception of safety in planning their trips.

Keywords: COVID-19, Pre and Post, India, Tourists Discernment, Sanitary Standards, Travel Planning.          

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

Tourism is an essential industry, contributing a large part to the countries' GDP and generating millions of jobs. In 2019, tourism contributed US$ 8.9 trillion to the world's GDP, which accounts for 10.3% of global GDP (Aburumman, 2020).

However, coronavirus (COVID-19) badly impacted this industry. Undoubtedly, tourism was always being affected by various natural or artificial incidents, which took years to recover to its standard. Nevertheless, the outbreak of COVID-19 changed the entire scope and structure of this industry. The influence of this pandemic is not confined to the country's borders; instead, it captured the whole world and impacted every area and industry. Secondly, the risk is not losing money; however, losing humans. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reports, the number of international tourists dropped to 20-30 percent in 2020. It mentioned a further loss of $300 to 450 billion in revenue in global tourism. The severe impact of this pandemic cannot be solely measured in monetary terms. Instead, the effect can be seen in the people's minds in the form of fear, reluctance to travel, and safety & hygiene of the destination places and accommodations (Jeon & Yang, 2021). This crisis, in turn, impacted the tourists' behaviour intentions concerning their attitude, choices, perceived health risk, personal safety, and decision-making to trip planning (Godovykh, Pizam, & Bahja, 2021, Chua et al., 2020, and Neuburger & Egger, 2020).

Tourists' behaviour comprises internal and external factors. Internal factors such as beliefs, motivations, attitudes, etc., while external factors are the socio-cultural environment, security, economic environment, etc. (Chebli & Ben said, 2020). This research study is focused on the superficial aspects of sanitary standards, crucial for tourists' safety.

Hygiene and cleanliness of destinations and accommodations became the foremost priority for the tourists while preparing a trip to a specific country post-COVID-19 (Jafari et al., 2020). Hence, maintaining adequate sanitation standards is the right strategy for promoting tourism (Elysia & Wihadanto, 2020 and Jovanovic, Jankovic–Milic, & Ilic, 2015).

Sanitation standards severely affected tourism subsistence by affecting hygiene and the physical environment's sustainability (Menash & Enu-Kwesi, 2019 and Park, Kline, Kim, Almanza, & Ma, 2019). Sanitary standards of destination and accommodation affect its credibility because inadequate sanitation standards inevitably lead to its lousy publicity (Mmutle & Shonhe, 2017). Since post-COVID-19 became the ‘new normal’ for tourists; hence, there is a need for the tourism industry to re-design the service infrastructure of host destinations and accommodations by focusing on disinfection and sanitation, re-designing overall facilities, and launching promotional deals to attract tourists (Awan, Shamim, & Ahn, 2020 and Aydin & Karamehmet, 2017). Undoubtedly, it may cause additional costs to the tourism authorities, which may recover from the tourists by charging a premium price for improved hotel room disinfection as hotel guests’ value cleanliness. Even hoteliers started offering allergy-free rooms to the tourists for a premium (Zemke, Neal, Shoemaker, & Kirsch, 2015).

Hence, poor sanitation will impact the credibility of the hotels and tourists’ health, resulting in financial losses to the tourism industry, such as loss of revenue due to a decrease in tourists' number. At the same time, access to basic sanitation facilities will support the tourism industry post-COVID-19 (Elysia & Wihadanto, 2020).

It was always hard to anticipate tourists' conduct after a crisis. Moreover, if this shift in tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards will be studied considering the pre-COVID-19 studies, it will probably help predict the post-pandemic tourists’ behaviour. It will further help the tourism marketers to develop effective campaign and recovery strategies to cope with this crisis and ensure tourists’ safety at the host destination and accommodation (Chua et al., 2020 and Kement, Cavusoglu, Demirag, Durmaz, & Bukey, 2020).

This is one of the first research papers to compare pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 paradigm shifts in tourists' discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning, which will help government agencies, tourist management departments, and tourism enterprises in host countries establish effective tourism growth policies.

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

Relevant studies are included in the review of the literature to give insight into this exploratory study. A literature review provides the right direction and acts as the foundation for the proposed research. Various journals and periodicals related to the topic of the study were reviewed. Studies pertaining to pre-COVID-19 (table 2.1) and post-COVID-19 (table 2.2) is presented below:

 

TABLE 2.1

(Pre- COVID-19 Studies)

Author/

Year

Country

Objective/Focus of the study

Findings

Menash & Enu-Kwesi (2019)

 

NA

This study examined the effect of environmental sanitation on the tourism industry.

Data Analysis = Qualitative data were collected through interviews and focus group discussions, which were analysed using thematic and stories approaches.

This study discovered that sanitation affected tourism subsistence by affecting hygiene, competitiveness, and the physical environments’ sustainability. However, respondents recognized the impact of sanitation on human resources by health consequence.

Park, Kline, Kim, Almanza, & Ma (2019)

.

NA

The purpose of this study is to assess tourists’ perceptions of their sanitation experience of the hotel.

Data Analysis = An adenosine triphosphate (ATP) test and sample was used. Amazon Mechanical Turk was used to gather information from recent hotel visitors.

The results revealed that tourist interactivity and the cleanliness of defined areas were evaluated by the authors to create an overall view of hotel cleaning requirements. Further, the study empirically supported tourism industry facts on tourist discernment and statistical data that may be used to improve hotel cleaning systems.

Sag & Zengul (2018)

Turkey

This research paper explores the relationships between the critical variables concerning the perceptions ofhealth tourists and Turkey being a healthcare tourism destination

Sample of the study: 288 tourists

Data Analysis: Descriptive statistics and Kruskal–Wallis difference tests.

The results show that it is critical for health tourism providers and intermediate organizations to understand how the preferences of health tourists from various geographical locations differ.

Aydin & Karamehmet (2017)

 

Turkey

The current research seeks to provide a comprehensive model of international healthcare tourism that integrates all of the critical aspects by evaluating the growth drivers and alternative variables presented in the literature.

Data Analysis = Sixty-five structured interviews were performed with healthcare professionals and international health tourists.

The research findings support the relevance of the variables indicated as major determinants impacting international healthcare facility performance at hotels.

Mmutle &Shonhe (2017)

 

NA

This paper aimed to investigate customers’ perceptions of service quality and their effect on the credibility of the specific hotel.

Data Analysis: A qualitative method of semi-structured interviews with tourists and hotel staff.

According to the results, service quality influence on hotel credibility since unsatisfactory provision of services ultimately leads to severe interactions and negative public relations for the hotel. It emerged that tourists and hotel staffhad common ideas about what service quality means.

Cahyanto, Wiblishauser, Pennington-Gray, & Schroeder (2016)

 

NA

Using the Health Belief Model as a theoretical paradigm, this research examined the factors that influenced Americans’ avoidance of domestic travel in the aftermath of Ebola cases announced in the United States in 2014.

Data Analysis: Online survey of 1613 Americans yielded the results.

Domestic travel avoidance is heavily impacted by perceived vulnerability and individual belief. The findings also supported the significance of perceived risk and individual opinion. At the same time, the threat of an Ebola outbreak and the emergence of other health-related catastrophes, the outcome might assist the tourist sector in preparing for and adapting to subsequent health pandemics.

Jovanovic, Jankovic–Milic, & Ilic (2015)

South-Eastern Europe

This paper acknowledged Serbia's travel and tourism competitiveness based on health and hygiene as one of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index pillars.

Many tourists consider health and hygiene extremely important when deciding on a destination and preparing a trip to a specific country.

Zemke, Neal, Shoemaker, & Kirsch (2015)

NA

This research report proposed that there must be a market segment of tourists prepared to pay more for clean hotels, which utilise advanced disinfection technologies in contrast to earlier room cleaning processes.

Data Analysis: The survey method was used to examine consumers' perceptions of hotel room cleanliness and their willingness to pay for enhanced services.

The findings revealed that many hotel chains currently offer allergy-free rooms for a premium. Further, the travelers of young age and female travelers of all ages may pay a premium price for improved hotel room disinfection as hotel guests’ value cleanliness in their room.

 

 

TABLE 2.2

(Post- COVID-19 Studies)

Author/

Year

Country

Objective/Focus of the study

Findings

Godovykh, Pizam, & Bahja (2021)

NA

This paper aims to define potential risks, describe the fundamental causes and consequences of health risk perceptions in tourism.

It was found that principal elements impacting health risk perceptions are intellectual, contextual, emotional, and individual in nature. Its theoretical model incorporates factors as well as travellers' risk tolerance and travel plans. Simultaneously, the conceptual model demonstrates the relationship between these factors, tourists' risk assessment, and travel plans.

Jeon & Yang (2021)

Gangwon (South Korea)

A comparison of the attributes of the local tourism structure of Gangwon province is made in this study using network analysis. Further, this study formed a framework of movement patterns of the Gangwon tourists for two different periods, i.e., before COVID-19 (January to June 2019) and after COVID-19 (January to June 2020), and immediate changes were observed to determine the reasons for the increase in tourists despite coronavirus outbreak. 

The results exhibited that the fear of coronavirus shifted the tourists' preferences to local destinations over distant places such as local beaches, which shows a change in tourist behaviour.

Awan, Shamim, & Ahn (2020)

 

Malaysia

This research paper provides detailed information about tourists' expectations from hotel services. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses represent consumers who are concerned with safety and sanitation. This pandemic has a critical and detrimental impact on the hospitality industry, among others.As a result, the goal of this research paper is to define the ‘new standard’ for tourists and hotel business.

Sample of the study: 17 potential national and international tourists.

Data Analysis: In-depth interviews.

The findings suggest that in light of the ‘new normal' for tourists’; the hotel business has to revamp its service infrastructure by focusing on disinfection and sanitation and providing promotional packages.

Chua et al. (2020)

USA

This study examined the tourists’ perception of health risk, mental wellbeing, and uncertainty in framing attitudes and their resisting behaviour towards distant tourist destinations, which is hit severely by the COVID-19.

This study concluded that the adverse effects of COVID-19 influenced perceived health risk, mental wellbeing, and perceived uncertainty. At the same time, temporary avoidance behaviour was predicted due to health crises. Further, this study provided implications for the tourism industry to develop recovery strategies to cope with the impact of this crisis.

Elysia & Wihadanto (2020)

NA

This paper aims to study the effect of poor sanitation on global tourism sustainability and to evaluate the impact of improved sanitation access on tourism development.

Data Analysis: A regression analysis was performed.

A strong association was found between the percentage of the population using better sanitation facilities and the number of tourist arrivals. However, poor sanitation has severe consequences for public health and the economy. In terms of economic impacts, inaccessibility to better sanitation results in financial losses due to the direct costs of managing sanitation-related disorders as well as the indirect cost of lost revenue due to decreased production. Provision of basic sanitary facilities is viewed as one factor that must be addressed while supporting the tourism industry, especially in developing countries.

Jafari et al. (2020)

 

Turkey

This empirical paper aims to analyse the sensitivity of Turkish travellers in making travelling decisions considering the perceived health risks due to COVID-19.

Tourists have become more concerned about the hygiene and cleanliness of public places. It was seen that this pandemic influenced travellers’ tendency to travel and make leisure trips.

Kement, Cavusoglu, Demirag, Durmaz, & Bukey (2020)

Turkey

This research examines visitors' needs and behavioural motives in the context of COVID-19 experience and non-pharmaceutical action.

The findings show that if tourism firms are aware of customer choices after the pandemic, they will use an effective campaign strategy. The results provide insights into consumers’ decision-making process about travel during the pandemic.

Neuburger & Egger (2020)

DACH region (comprises Austria, Germany, and Switzerland)

The study analysed the relationship between travel risk perception, travellers’ behaviour, and travellers’ perception of COVID-19 in the DACH region.

Data Analysis: Data for the survey was gathered using a self-administered questionnaire at two different points in time. Further, cluster analysis and linear regression were performed to conduct quantitative research of the data.

Sample of the research study

Sample in Period 1: 1158 travellers

Sample in Period 2: 212 travellers

The results show a critical increase in travel behaviour, risk perception of COVID-19, and travel risk perception over a short time.

 

Research Gap and Comparison of the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 studies based on the above review of literature

After the critical review of the literature, it was analyzed that various studies were done to understand travel risk perception, health risk perception, and tourists’ expectations by conducting quantitative and qualitative studies (Chua et al., 2020, Jafari et al., 2020 and Neuburger & Egger, 2020). In the study of Jeon & Yang (2021), the author studied the tourism structure in two-time frames, i. e., pre and post COVID-19 periods, which helped determine the immediate changes in tourists conduct and trip planning in post-COVID-19. In turn, the pandemic significantly affected tourists' attitudes and travel schedules, influencing travel destination preferences. Further, it is possible to forecast the effect of this pandemic on tourists' post-crisis health risk perception by analyzing previous studies (pre-COVID-19) in light of the post-COVID-19 (Jovanovic, Jankovic–Milic, & Ilic, 2015,Kement, Cavusoglu, Demirag, Durmaz, & Bukey, 2020, /Park, Kline, Kim, Almanza, & Ma, 2019 and Sag & Zengul, 2018). Primarily, in the study of Cahyanto, Wiblishauser, Pennington-Gray, & Schroeder (2016), the author studied the Ebola crisis and its impacts on the health risk perception, which provided a direction to the tourism industry to adapt to this pandemic and develop other revival strategies for this industry. Concerning the sanitation standards in the pre-COVID-19 era, it was seen that sanitation was a significant determinant observed by the tourists while planning their trips (Aydin & Karamehmet, 2017). However, its importance has grown even more in post-COVID-19. Sanitation standards cannot be ignored at host destinations and accommodations (Menash & Enu-Kwesi, 2019 and Mmutle & Shonhe, 2017). Now travellers became more conscious of their health at recreational areas and public transport too while travelling. Though, it was not this critical in pre-COVID-19 (Godovykh, Pizam, & Bahja, 2021).

Further, the analysis of the pre-COVID-19 studies in the literature review demonstrated that the tourists usually observed health, safety conditions, food, and safety norms. Tourists usually visit public places and even travelling in groups with a regular travelling pattern (Zemke, Neal, Shoemaker, & Kirsch, 2015). Nevertheless, post-COVID-19 drastically changed the whole scenario in just a few months. Now, the health and safety of the people are foremost important for travellers at host destination and accommodation. Hence, sanitary standards gained significance in post-COVID-19 as providing improved sanitation standards became a new revival strategy for the rehabilitation of the tourism industry (Awan, Shamim, & Ahn, 2020 and Elysia & Wihadanto, 2020).

In tourism literature, a paradigm shift in tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning is a new area for research as COVID-19 emerged in 2020. Moreover, tourism literature does not include studies related to the significance of sanitary standards in the trip planning of travellers. Thus, this research paper proceeds with comparing pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 paradigm shifts in tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning.

 

RATIONALE OF THE STUDY

Tourism is a sector that the COVID-19 pandemic severely impacted. This sector was always being impacted by various crises, emergencies, epidemics, and other natural calamities. This time, COVID-19 fundamentally and permanently altered the basic structure of tourism. In contrast to pre-COVID-19 studies, the tourists' travel planning behaviour was quite normal, with no fear of travelling to destinations and staying in hotels. However, safety and health became critically important in post-COVID-19. Therefore, there is a gap in the tourism literature, where most studies were done to determine the post-COVID-19 tourists’ discernment of sanitary conditions in travelling decisions. However, the authors did not research to compare the pre-COVID-19 and post-covid-19 paradigm shift in tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards, especially in India. This factor can’t be ignored as the significance of sanitary standards in post-COVID-19 impacted tourist behaviour and ultimately trip planning of the travellers, globally. Therefore, this research paper is itself a novelty and addition to the academic research area of tourism.

OBJECTIVE OF THE RESEARCH STUDY

To examine the paradigm shift in tourists' discernment of sanitary conditions in trip planning pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 in India.

Hypothesis: The literature review shows a lack of relevant empirical work to compare the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists' discernment of sanitary conditions in trip planning, especially in India. Therefore, the following null hypothesis was developed based on the prescribed objective of this study. 

H0: There is no significant difference between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists' discernment of sanitary conditions in trip planning.

 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Sources of Data

This study is based on primary and secondary data. Primary data was collected through an online questionnaire. This questionnaire was developed following systematic literature review related to objectives of this empirical study. While preparing the questionnaire, pilot testing was done, and expert opinions were taken from the academician and experts related to the tourism and hospitality industry. The opinions and feedback of these experts helped to ensure the content validity of the items of the questionnaire. Relevant alterations were done based on the suggestions of the experts and academicians, and the final draft of the questionnaire was prepared. Then an online questionnaire was developed on Google forms, and a web-based survey was conducted. A web-based survey is the safest means to collect data in this phase of coronavirus.

In contrast, data collection through offline mode is neither feasible nor safe. The link of this online questionnaire was distributed through social networking sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) and Gmail to contacts, and further references were taken from them to collect data. While the secondary data was collected through various national and international research papers, research articles, published reports of the Government of India and Department of Tourism. A quantitative analysis was done to study the pre-COVID and post-COVID tourists' discernment of sanitary conditions while planning their trips. 

Scope of the Study

The scope of the present study is focused on the travelers who had made trips in pre-COVID-19 and anticipated taking trips in post-COVID-19 years. The period from Jan 01, 2019 – Dec 31, 2019 was selected to collect data of pre-COVID-19 tourists’ responses. This period was selected to get more reliable output and responses from the travelers. At the same time, the post-COVID-19 period is taken from Jan 01, 2020.

Sample Method

Purposive sampling and snowball sampling techniques were used in this study. The online questionnaire was developed through Google forms, and its link was distributed on social networking sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) and Google contacts.

Sample Size 

A total of 170 online questionnaires were filled by the respondents, out of which 162 were found usable. Before conducting the final survey, a pilot study was done on 50 questionnaires to ensure the reliability of the research instruments.

Research Scale Used

The questionnaire was adapted from the study of Jafari et al. (2020) and Chebli& Ben said (2020) with slight changes that pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists’ discernment was studied separately. Based on the results of the pilot study and expert opinions of academicians, one of the items of the scale, i.e. 'I want to stay in high-quality star hotels following COVID-19’, was not found to be applicable for all types of travelers as some people may not afford to stay in 5 or 7-star hotels. Therefore, this item was deleted in the final draft of the questionnaire to make the results more realistic. Further, some suggestions were taken from the respondents during the pilot test. Based on these recommendations, few items related to the social distancing, sanitation norms, and SOPs being followed were also added. Thus, the questionnaire studied the importance of sanitary standards (pre-COVID and post-COVID) in trip planning through 15 items. 

 

 

Reliability Analysis and Data Analysis Techniques Used:

To test the reliability of the instrument, Cronbach Alfa was computed for all the dimensions. Further, Paired samples t-test was applied to conduct a quantitative analysis of the study's objective.

DATA ANALYSIS AND INTERPRETATION

Data collected through online questionnaires was analyzed through SPSS 21. The analysis and interpretation of the data is presented below.

Reliability test: To check the instrument's reliability, Cronbach Alpha was computed for pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 items separately. Cronbach’s Alpha is a measure of internal consistency, and it determines the degree to which all the items measure the same construct. Its value varies from 0 to 1. A value greater than 0.9 and above shows excellent reliability, 0.7 – 0.90 shows high reliability, 0.5 – 0.7 shows moderate reliability, and 0.5 & below low reliability (Hinton et al., 2004). The Cronbach’s Alpha for pre-COVID-19 items is 0.954, which shows excellent reliability. In contrast, it is 0.552 for post-COVID-19 items, which shows moderate reliability. Hence, the values indicate the reliability of the data for further analysis.

Paired-samples t-test

The paradigm shift in pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists' discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning was studied by conducting a Paired-samples t-test. 

The following null hypothesis was set:

H0: There is no significant difference between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning.

The Paired-samples t-test (also called a dependent t-test) compares the means of two scores from related samples. For instance, comparing a pre-COVID-19 and a post-COVID-19 score for a group of respondents would require a Paired-samples t-test. Therefore, the mean scores of the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists’ discernment were calculated in SPSS 21. 

After calculating the mean scores, a Paired-samples t-test was conducted, and the output for the Paired-samples t-test consists of three components as follows:

  1. The first part (Table 6.1) gives basic descriptive statistics for the pair of variables. The pre-COVID-19 perception average was 3.0181, with a standard deviation of 1.00106. In contrast, the post-COVID-19 average was 1.9518, with a standard deviation of .10292.

Table 6.1

Paired Samples Statistics

 

Mean

N

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

Pair    1

      mean values pre

3.0181

162

1.00106

.07865

      mean values post

1.9518

162

.10292

.00809

 

  1. The second part of the output is a Pearson correlation coefficient (Table 6.2) for the pair of variables. The value > 0.5 depicts a strong relationship between the two pairs of variables. Here the table 6.2 shows the correlation value is 0.460 that means there is moderate relation between the two pair of variables.

Table 6.2

Paired Samples Correlations

 

N

Correlation

Sig.

Pair 1

mean values pre & mean values post

162

.460

.000

         

 

  1. Within the third part of the output (labelled Paired Samples Test, Table 6.3), the section called Paired Differences contains information about the differences between the two variables. The final three columns contain the value of t, the degrees of freedom, and the significance level. Therefore, table 6.3 shows a t-value of 14.167, with 161 degrees of freedom and a significance level of .000.

 

 

 

Table 6.3

Paired Samples Test

 

 

Paired Differences

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean

Std. Deviation

Std. Error Mean

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

Lower

Upper

Pair1

 

mean values - mean values post

1.06636

.95806

.07527

.91771

1.21501

14.167

161

.000

                   

Paired-samples t-tests determine whether or not two means are significantly different from each other. Significant values indicate that the two means are different (technically, the samples come from populations with different means). Values that are not a significant indicate that the scores are not significantly different. 

The mean score of the pre-COVID-19 (Table 6.1) is 3.0181 (sd = 1.00106), and the mean on the post-COVID-19 is 1.9518 (sd = .10292). A significant increase from pre to post was found t (161) = 14.167, p < .005. A significant difference was found between the two mean values. Therefore, the null hypothesis was not accepted, which depicts a significant difference between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 tourists' discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning.

CONCLUSION 

This exploratory study provided an overview of a paradigm shift in tourists' discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 for trip planning. Tourists became more cautious regarding the cleanliness and safety of the tourist’s destinations, public recreation areas, hotels, and means of transportation compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. In contrast, the cleanliness of tourists’ destinations and public recreational places was not that important in pre-COVID-19. Following safety norms in destinations and hotels was again not considered by the tourists earlier. Tourists never confirmed standard operating norms being followed in hotels from hoteliers while making a booking at hotels. Tourists usually travel in groups and were not hesitant to visit any crowded places. However, post-COVID-19 brought a paradigm shift in the travel behavior of the tourists. Now, tourists avoid traveling in the group, eating separately, and prefer a destination with less tourist crowd.

Most importantly, tourists check whether the hotel and Air/Railway staff follows standard operating procedures (SOPs). Now, tourists prefer to take travel insurance to avoid any health risks during traveling and avoid flight cancellation costs in case of an emergency, which was not that important earlier. Lastly, an online payment system in hotels was always been the safest and preferable payment system for travelers. Therefore, it can be concluded that post-COVID-19 brought a severe paradigm shift in the tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards in trip planning.

 

MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS 

The tourism authorities must understand and meet tourists’ expectations to regain their confidence and stimulate tourism post-COVID-19. This can be done by recreating a positive and safe image of travelling to the tourists, while focusing on sustainable management of resources at host destination and accommodation. Further, tourists don’t prefer to travel to crowded destinations; therefore, it can be taken as an opportunity to attract tourists to visit such destinations during the low season period. Also, the tourism marketers can offer cheap and attractive priced offers to the tourists to attract more tourists. 

LIMITING FACTORS AND FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS

  1. The web-based study is conducted because it was not feasible to perform an offline survey due to coronavirus. Therefore, this study may incorporate the demerits of the online study, such as unsatisfactory and unreliable responses.
  2. The sample size under this study is 162 respondents, which may not represent the large population.
  3. This study covered data related to the tourists’ discernment of the sanitary standards. In the future, another study can be done to analyze the gap between the perception of tourists and their expectations for sanitary standards in trip planning.
  4. In the future, studies can be done to understand the reasons behind the changed tourists’ discernment of sanitary standards. 
  5. The sampling method used for this study is non-probability sampling, limiting the results' generalization. Thus, biases on the part of the sampling method cannot be ignored. For future studies, it is recommended to use a probability sampling method to get reliable and representative output.
  6. This study is not specific to a particular region. The tourists’ discernment of the sanitary standards is not studied in a particular geographical context, which may vary the responses of the tourists if the future study is conducted in a specific geographical area. This may bring variations in the perception of the tourists’ and may reveal other variables of sanitary standards too.
  7. Finally, this research paper did not study the socio-demographic factors (gender, age, marital status, family with kids, and origin) about the tourists' discernment. This may influence the tourist’ discernment and provide more information to study independent tourists’ discernment of each segment. This may help tourism marketers to act according to such socio-demographic factors.
  8. A qualitative study can explore the tourists' discernment of hygiene and safety conditions at destinations and hotels. This will offer new insights into the study. 
  9. This study can be replicated in other industries, such as retailing.
  10. Comparative studies of developed and developing countries can be conducted to compare the coronavirus impact on the travelers’ discernment of safety in planning their trips.

BIBLOGRAPHY

Aburumman, A. (2020). COVID-19 impact and survival strategy in business tourism market: The example of the UAE MICE industry. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-020-00630-8

Awan, M., Shamim, A., & Ahn, J. (2020, October 26). Implementing cleanliness is half of faith' in Re-designing tourists, experiences and salvaging the hotel industry in Malaysia during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved from https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JIMA-08-2020-0229/full/html

Aydin, G., & Karamehmet, B. (2017, April 03). Factors affecting health tourism and international health-care facility choice. Retrieved from https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJPHM-05-2015-0018/full/html

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