Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Applied Economics

Advisor/Chair:

Kynda R. Curtis

Abstract

Utah is a popular tourism destination, evidenced by the 10.7 million visitors who spent $7.5 billion in 2013 (BEBR, 2015). The tourism industry is an important component of Utah’s economy, but who are Utah tourists? A key research purpose of this study is to provide the demographic and psychographic information necessary to improve tourism industry practices through targeted marking and development. Data were collected from Utah tourists in 2013-2014 through an in-person survey in various tourist locations throughout Utah.

The characteristics, behaviors, and interests of Utah tourists, especially in regards to food and agricultural tourism, were examined in the context of consumer profiles. Exploratory factor and cluster analysis were used to group tourists according to demographic variables and participation in food and agriculture related activities when at home and while traveling. Seven factors underlying respondents’ perceptions of food and agriculture related practices when at home and while traveling were identified. Four consumer segments were then constructed using cluster analysis.

Examining the characteristics of tourists who make repeated return trips to Utah was another research purpose of this study. An ordered logit regression model was used to explore the relationship between return tourism and demographics, travel motivation, destination image, and travel experiences. Results suggested a positive correlation between propensity to return and certain travel motivations, such as traveling for business or to visit culture and heritage related sites, destination image, and travel experiences. Traveler age and traveling with children were negatively correlated with propensity to return.

Results suggested that marketers, tourism industry providers, businesses, and local governments may improve their operations through a better understanding of the characteristics and behaviors of specific consumer segments. The consumer segments explored in this study provide the information necessary for the development of targeted marketing campaigns directed towards specific tourist types. The information provided and examined in this study may also be used to develop attractions, activities, and products that encourage Utah tourists to spend their trip budget in ways that are most favorable to local businesses and producers. The importance of quality food and agriculture related offerings in the Utah tourism experience were also highlighted.

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