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FOOD PREFERENCES OF CHINESE
Richard C.Y. Chang
Providence University, Taiwan
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Athena H.N. Mak
University of Surrey, UK
Abstract: Given the scarcity of research on tourist food preference, this study is a first attempt to generate in-depth understanding of Chinese tourists’ food preferences in a culturally different environment by employing on-site participant observations and focus group interviews.
It provides a detailed analysis of the motivational factors underlying the Chinese participants’ food preferences when holidaying in Australia, and also proposes a typology that describes and contrasts the participants’ tourism dining attitudes, motivations and behaviors. Furthermore, this study elucidates the influence of Chinese food culture on the participants’ tourism dining behaviors and explores the disparities in dining behavioral patterns between the participants in terms of their dining motivations and the way they related tourism dining experiences to their daily experiences. Keywords: tourist food preference, tourism dining behavior, motivational factors, Chinese tourists, Chinese food culture, gastronomy tourism. Ó 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Unlike other forms of travel activities and attractions, tourism dining is an art form that gratifies all of the five human senses—vision, tactile, auditory, taste, and olfaction (Kivela & Crotts, 2006). With such an idiosyncratic nature, tourism dining is often considered a sensory pleasure activity that fulfills the experiential part of a holiday experience
(Hjalager & Richards, 2002). In addition, food is an essential aspect in understanding the culture of a society, and an important medium for cultural expression (Fieldhouse, 1986). Thus, food comprises a substantial part of the appeal a destination offers. Scarpato (2002) further contends that food satisfies all the conventional requirements of cultural tourism products. Hence, tourism dining has increasingly
Richard Chang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Tourism at Providence
University (200 Chung Chi Rd., Taichung 43301, Taiwan. Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>). His research interests include gastronomy tourism and tourist dining behavior. Jaksˇa Kivela is an
Associate Professor in the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at The Hong Kong
Polytechnic University. Athena Mak is a PhD Researcher in the School of Management at
University of Surrey, UK.
R.C.Y. Chang et al. / Annals of Tourism Research 37 (2010) 989–1011
become a major conduit for tourists to appreciate the local culture of a destination (Kivela & Crotts, 2006).
While it is a widely held belief that food in tourism is a significant
‘‘attraction’’ (Hjalager & Richards, 2002), Cohen and Avieli (2004) however stress that local food at a destination could be an ‘‘impediment’’ under certain circumstances. They point out that local food might become acceptable to tourists only if it is modified to the tourists’ palate, and that the confrontation with ‘‘strange’’ and ‘‘unfamiliar’’ local cuisine might present a considerable challenge for some tourists. Indeed, some tourists may suffer from ‘‘food neophobia,’’ a concept which refers to human’s natural tendency to dislike or suspect new and unfamiliar foods (Pliner & Salvy, 2006). Similarly, Lepp and
Gibson (2003) identified ‘‘strange food’’ as one of the seven risk factors perceived by tourists. Hence, destination marketers, hospitality businesses, and tour operators are faced with the challenge of how to appropriately portray and present their local cuisine as an attraction and to mitigate the risk that it will be interpreted as an impediment.
Such an endeavor requires an