The Gastronomic Experience of European Tourists in Portugal

This source preferred by Miguel Moital

Authors: Moital, M., Correia, A. and Ferreira da Costa, C.

Start date: 24 July 2009

In an ever growing competitive market, tourist destinations need to ensure that their experience is differentiated from competitors’ product offering. While differentiation can be achieved through multiple strategies, the use of local culture has not only been regarded as one suitable differentiation strategy, but also one that promises great scope for sustained competitive advantage. Gastronomy is one of the cultural resources that usually retains an aura of ‘uniqueness’ in the eyes of the tourist and thus is a strong candidate for use in differentiation strategies. One of the conditions underpinning the use of gastronomy as part of the tourism product is a greater understanding of what motivates tourists to experience local gastronomy and how satisfied they are with the experience. Service quality plays an important role in ensuring that consumers leave satisfied. This presentation reports the results of a study focusing on understanding European tourists’ motivation and satisfaction with their gastronomic experience while visiting Portugal. A stratified random sample of tourists departing from Lisbon airport were asked to rate the importance of a number of attributes when selecting a restaurant offering Portuguese gastronomy (motivation), as well as their evaluation of those attributes (satisfaction). A number of analyses were undertaken with a view to better understand the tourists’ gastronomic experience: • First, motivation and satisfaction were used as segmentation variables. Factor analysis, categorical principal component analysis and non-hierarchical cluster analysis were employed to identify distinct groups of tourists. Parametric and non-parametric tests were used to assess the consistency of the resulting segments. Three distinct groups of tourists were identified: ‘social tourists’, ‘value-seeker tourists’ and ‘gourmet tourists’. However, the results suggest that motivation is a much more powerful variable for segmenting gastronomic tourists than satisfaction. • Second, a structural equation model was developed to understand the relationship between motivation, satisfaction and intention to consume/recommend Portuguese gastronomy. The results show that the motivation to experience gastronomy is explained by the three motivational indicators. The most important indicator was atmosphere, followed by price/quality relationship and gastronomy and services. Similar to motivation, satisfaction was explained by its three constituent indicators. In order of descending importance, satisfaction was explained by gastronomy and service, price/quality relationship and atmosphere. Finally, motivation and satisfaction were also found to be correlated. • Finally, a comparison between tourists from two markets: Spain and the United Kingdom was undertaken. Overall, the results suggest that the tourism gastronomic experience has different meanings according to the nationality of the tourist, showing that the gastronomic experience is a cultural issue more than the satisfaction of a basic need.

Implications for the strategic management of the tourists’ gastronomic experience and for the marketing of tourist destinations are discussed.

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