Analysing the choice of Malaysia as a long-haul tourist destination
The purpose of this study was to investigate how the British tourists move through a decision process in choosing Malaysia as a long-haul holiday destination. The purchase of a long-haul holiday is thought to be complex with high involvement and deliberation as well as being more expensive and bought less frequently (may be once a year). As such, a five-stage decision process is used: i) problem recognition, ii) information search, iii) evaluation of alternatives, iv) purchase decision and v) postpurchase behaviour. The research was conducted at two levels. The first level was self-administered tourists' survey questionnaire carried-out over a three-month period in Malaysia. The second level involved a British tour operators' survey which was supplemented by personal interview in order to get a better insight into the problems and potentials of Malaysia as a long-haul destination. "In search of new experience," "rest and relaxation",and "cultural attraction" were ranked as the three most important motivational factors influencing the decision to travel long-haul. Personal sources of information seemed to dominate in every stage of the decision process. Tourists evaluated Malaysia very favourably only on two tourist-attracting attributes - entertainment and shopping facilities; but these attributes were less important to them when selecting their holiday destinations. Husbands and wives were found to be in agreement on nine of the eleven subdecisions. Generally, tourists expressed high satisfaction with their holiday experience in Malaysia. Nevertheless some significant differences were found between independent and packaged tourists. Independent tourists were more satisfied with all the "product and service superiority" factors compared to the packaged tourists. With local services, independent tourists were significantly more satisfied than the packaged tourists with pleasant attitudes of the people and the personal security aspects of the "health and safety" factor. With regards to overall value for money and overall satisfaction, the independent tourists were significantly more satisfied than the packaged tourists. Comparison between destinations within the region also revealed different satisfaction levels across various dimensions. The study provides useful empirical support which enable tourism planners in making specific improvements in order to maintain and/or increase tourist satisfaction. For tourism marketers, creation of unrealistic tourist expectation through excessive promotional exaggeration should be avoided to circumvent tourist dissatisfaction.