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Title: Achieving guest satisfaction through the agritourism experience : the case of Cyprus
Author: Christou, Prokopis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 323X
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2010
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Tourism is being appreciated for its plentiful positive (e.g.) economic impacts upon worldwide destinations. Even so, its uncontrolled development has caused a number of negative (e.g.) sociocultural effects which have led to the concept of tourism sustainability to be in the spotlight. Rural tourism was sought by global destinations as a sustainable form of tourism which could revive rural communities. One such destination which sought tourism diversification while acknowledging the potential benefits of rural tourism is the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Being concerned with uncontrolled tourism development especially in the coastal areas, the official bodies of the island implemented the agritourism program. Through its promotion the destination sought tourism diversification and economic regeneration of the countryside. However, the success of the program may be argued, on the basis that it has only achieved low occupancy rates. In view of this, researchers note that the success of any tourism sector requires guest satisfaction achievement. Yet it appears evident that there is a lack of an investigation of agritourist satisfaction, while the answer to the question ‘how can agritourist satisfaction be achieved’ still remains elusive. In fact it seems that the agritourist satisfaction process has escaped the attention of global tourism researchers and demands further exploration. Knowledge gaps can be detected in the three stages involved in this process: the ‘pre-travel’, ‘at-the-destination’ and ‘meta/post-travel’ stages. This is reflected in worldwide academics’ incessant demands for additional research in the area of agritourist satisfaction and the need to appreciate agritourists in terms of what motivates them to travel, what they value the most while at the destination and what their post-travel behavioural intentions are. That being established, this study entails an ethnographic investigation of the agritourist satisfaction process by using the island of Cyprus as a case study. The purpose of the study is to investigate the satisfaction process of agritourists with the intention of gaining further insights about these tourists and provide in no uncertain terms an answer to the question of how their satisfaction can be achieved. For this reason the researcher employs ethnographic techniques as a shift from traditional tourism research in order to get as close as possible to those under investigation. The methodological approach involves a combination of informal interviews, dozens of casual conversations, an active participation in the daily lives of the participants (agritourists) as well as an observation of their daily routine. The ethnographic study which lasted more than a year was brought to an end once some degree of redundancy was achieved. Fieldwork findings reveal for the first time several niche groups of agritourists (e.g. ‘authenticity seekers’ and ‘gastronomics’) who have been pin-pointed based on the occasion for visiting the rural areas. Agritourists appear to be well informed in regards to their upcoming experience. The differing occasion for countryside visitation, the information derived from various sources as well as past experiences, all append towards the formation of agritourists’ expectations which are found to differ according to the individual. Different sub-groups of guests focus their attention on dissimilar offerings while at the rural setting, hence, different factors are critical for the success of differing occasions. Agritourists seem to take for granted both ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ aspects of their experience. The destination hence is faced with the challenging task of addressing and satisfying basic/low and high needs and expectations of a well informed, sophisticated and demanding market. General satisfaction was only expressed by those who felt that they had covered their physiological and psychological needs and expectations while on top of that experienced the unexpected pleasant element. Of note is the fact that revisit intentions were only expressed by those who remained satisfied with their experience. The findings lend a hand to the provision of important and specific recommendations towards international rural destination managers and practitioners (e.g. hosts). The study provides useful guidelines on how to cover the basic and high needs and expectations of agritourists and how to pleasantly surprise them. These suggestions are of great value to those involved in the rural tourism sector since through these they may satisfy and foster the positive behavioural intentions of their guests. Finally, the research findings contribute to the existing body of tourism knowledge by providing novel information regarding the psycho-synthesis of agritourists and their satisfaction process.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available