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Title: The role of students as hosts to VFR travellers : towards a conceptual framework
Author: Munoz, Julio R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7657 2515
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is one of the largest yet most neglected travel segments in tourism research. In particular, little is known about the ways in which hosts and visitors affect each other's experiences from a quantitative perspective. This PhD project tackles this gap by developing a conceptual framework for the understanding of hosts-guests interactions looking especially at the way hosts' affect their visitors' experience. To achieve this goal a sequential mixed-methods approach in two stages (qualitative → QUANTITIVE) was used to research the population of students at the University of Surrey. Consequently, the study began with a series of 14 semi-structured interviews (1st stage), in order to explore the phenomenon in Guildford and provide the context for the framework. The findings from the first stage, together with further review of the literature led to including four main constructs in the model. These are: hosts' destination knowledge, destination image, motivation to host and visitors' experience. The second stage consisted of a survey completed by 458 groups of hosts and their visitors that measured these constructs and tested the model using Structure Equation Model (SEM). The results suggest the model fits well with the data providing insights about the relationships between the constructs. For example, it was found that there is a virtuous circle of interactions between the host's constructs and that destination image could be transferred from residents to visitors as generally assumed in literature. Overall, the model together with its interpretation and theoretical support provides the first conceptual framework for the understanding of the way hosts affect their visitors' experience. These findings aid in the understanding of the internal dynamics of the VFR phenomenon filling a crucial gap in literature and helping Destination Marketing Organizations to better manage the VFR market through their local residents (the hosts).
Supervisor: Kimbu, Albert ; Chen, Jason ; Deery, Margaret Sponsor: University of Surrey
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral