188 Letter from Cláudia Seabra

Dear Junior Researchers,

Let me tell you something about paths, real life, readings, travel, research and the future – are you wondering how they can be connected?

My education, like my life, has always been a patchwork of different colours and textures. A bachelor’s degree in communication, a Master’s in social sciences, a doctorate in tourism and a post-doctorate in economic and social geography. However, amid so much diversity, one thing was constant, my interest in travel and people. I taught from an early age in very different areas: communication, services marketing and consumer behaviour, which led to me discovering my curiosity for studying and analysing the way in which consumers behave, especially when they buy one of the most desirable products: travel. Soon, I realized that my diverse background was very useful to study a such a complex phenomenon: travel for leisure.

In my MA studies I was still in love with the area of communication, so I chose to study how tourists use information sources to help them in their decision-making. In a time when social media was in its early stages, my study focused on how the sources of information consulted by tourists contributed to the creation of their expectations before travelling and how the situation in the destinations was still affected by the information previously consulted. After that, social media brought about a completely different set of circumstances in the way in which people (and especially students) communicated, so e-WOM communication and the phenomenon of prosuming were the next topics to be studied.

In the preparation of my classes for BA students, I read several seminal works of the most exciting era of the consumer behaviour research, the 80s and 90s. Reading the works of Um and Crompton (1990, 1992), it was clear to me that potential tourists create complex perceptions of travel and destinations in their decision-making processes, based on two different dimensions (Um & Crompton: 1990, 1992):

  • Facilitators: attributes of the destination that tourists believe will help them satisfy their specific motivations;
  • Inhibitors: attributes that are not congruent with their motivations and that may negatively influence their decision-making.

The facilitator factors are the most studied in tourism literature, especially travel motivations and destination image. Those were very important in shaping consumers’ behaviours, but were already well covered by past research (e.g. for motivations: Baloglu, 2000; Beard & Ragheb, 1983; Crompton, 1979; Dann, 1981; Fodness, 1994; Gnoth, 1997; Goossens, 2000; Iso-Ahola, 1982; Mansfeld, 1992; Pearce & Caltabiano, 1983; Ryan & Glendon, 1998; Yuan & McDonnald, 1990) (for destination image see Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997; Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Chen & Tsai, 2007; Chon, 1990; Crompton & Ankomah, 1993). The inhibitor factors were less studied in the literature; specifically perceived risks were a neglected area in tourism literature with the exception of some brilliant and pioneering works (Cheron & Ritchie, 1982; Rohel & Fesenmaier, 1992; Sönmez & Graefe, 1998).

In fact, tourism is a global and highly dynamic sector, so it is particularly sensitive to negative external factors, which cannot be controlled by managers most of the time, and which can cause profound changes in markets. Tourists may feel less secure in their travels due to a multitude of risks that can affect purchasing and consumption decisions, and at their limit, they can even make the desire to travel unfeasible because of those risks that usually are not real, but perceived.

Another seminal work (Sönmez & Graefe, 1998a), called my attention to the effects of terrorism in tourism. My generation witnessed several terrorist attacks worldwide, however, 9/11 strongly effected our sense of safety, especially when travelling. Unfortunately, in the coming years, terrorist attacks targeting civilians travelling were commonplace around the world. At that time I was deciding the topic for my PhD, and naturally, I chose the influence of terrorism on travel decisions. We were at the end of the 2010s and in order to study the topic, I contacted several researchers in the terrorism area and also in the military and armed forces dealing with the phenomena, of course mainly male. You can imagine their reaction to seeing a young women dealing with this sensitive topic.

Since then I have never stopped studying how terrorism risk affects the tourism industry. After finishing my PhD in 2010 and publishing several works on that topic, my post-PhD project also focused on the influence of terrorism on tourists and organizations in the EU, in a decade in which terrorism events were so frequent in the old continent, especially in tourist sites. And after finishing my post-PhD project, a pandemic came and disturbed our normal lives – by the way I was due to travel in Italy in February 2020. So, another major risk disrupted lives and travelling and I decided to focus my attention on this topic (well, as we all did, right?). I collected data from 74 countries, edited a book and wrote several works on the effects of COVID-19 on mobility and travel.

And just when I was about to return to my research area of terrorism, a war broke out in Europe, menacing the recovery of the tourism sector. Again, real life led me to a different area of study: how will the conflict that is being broadcast in real time globally affect our desire to travel in a totally different world?

Future Research

I am learning that risks are a never-ending story to tell and study in tourism. We have to learn how to live with risks and crises that are more and more frequent and challenging. So, In this sense, I am currently coordinating a book for Emerald Publishing on tourism and safety with the aim of bringing together works on the various types of risk that affect tourists: cultural, psychological, physical, social, organizational and satisfaction risk, crime and violence, wars and political instability, accidents, natural disasters, terrorism, health and hygiene. At a time when there are several crises that put the tourist industry to the test, this book aims to present an analysis made by researchers from around the world and will help public and private managers to understand the complexity of the factors that can affect consumers.

In the area of terrorism, I intend to understand the effects of those crises in Europe: i) what the real effect of fear of terrorism is on citizens’ activities and behaviour, specifically on people’s daily lives, including mobility, activities and decisions; ii) what institutions we count on to feel more secure; and iii) what measures we consider fundamental to have more security. Also, I am exploring the internal factors that can affect tourists in the presence of fear of terrorism, such as the generation of travellers, their gender, country of origin and cultural background. These studies will help the European Union (EU), governments and organizations in creating effective security measures and crisis plans to ensure that policies and regulations meet the needs and expectations of citizens and organizations in the context of a terrorist threat.

Finally, I carried out several studies in the last year and a half on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on daily life, tourist behaviour and the degree of acceptance of citizens regarding the restrictions imposed by governments. In this context, and taking into account that the pandemic is still there and others are about to come, I want to study: i) how men and women perceive the risk caused by the disease and the impact it has on their decisions; ii) how the culture of the country of origin influences the perception of health risk; and iii) the differences between citizens of different generations about the future after the pandemic. These studies aim to help destination managers and tourism organizations to create resilience strategies for an increasingly uncertain future.

The latest project focuses on the impact of war on tourism. At this stage we are collecting data with a questionnaire in 20 languages, including Russian and Ukrainian and we already have more than 5000 responses. It is crucial to focus on the impacts of the new geopolitical reality on citizens’ perceptions of daily life and travel plans.

Some advice to future researchers

If I learned one thing in my life, it is that in tourism, it is possible to study so many topics and so many phenomena, there are so many perspectives, and there is so much more to study! So, here is some advice for young researchers:

  1. All background areas can be useful to study tourism.
  2. Never think that there is no interesting topic to study in tourism. You just have to look and travel around and you will realize that there is so much to explore!
  3. Go back to basics, read the seminal works of the authors that shaped the research in tourism.
  4. Do not study only what is interesting, but especially what is useful. Put yourself in the shoes of managers and think, how can I help with my research to discover new ways of solving problems and crises?
  5. Before deciding the study topics, identify the gaps, the solutions that are needed, and then you will find the most interesting themes to explore!
  6. Always think about the solutions, never focus on the problems!
  7. Be persistent! You will face lots of setbacks, rejections from journals and difficulties, but at the end of the day, alll those experiences will make you stronger!

Among interesting topics to explore, besides the obvious risks of terrorism, crime and violence, health and higyene, and wars, another phenomenon that is important to analyse in the literature on risks in tourism, natural disasters and catastrophes are an issue that is more and more present in a world heavily affected by climate change. Tourism is one of the major factors responsible, so understanding how this affects tourists’ behaviours and how tourists can help to avoid their own negative impact in the environment is a major issue to continue to analyse. Studies on psychological risks are few in the tourism literature. The issues regarding the fears and negative impacts of anxiety of travellers that are faced with overloaded tourism sites, where they find pollution, degradated and vandalized spaces and local residents that show their rejection of tourists that are seen as invaders are a phenomenon that should be studied more. Social risks of young tourists that are more and more influenced by social status and ambitions regarding image are important areas of study as well. In a time when we face a culture clash between the so-called Western and Eastern cultures, it is crucial to understand the risks of culture in tourism and, more importantly how tourism can help to achieve peace and understanding.

And this is how real life can shape our research interests. In fact, the path in real life is shaped by your readings and travels. Your research will reflect it and that can be your future!

Best Regards,


Cláudia Seabra

Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal

 

References

Baloglu, S., & Brinberg, D. (1997). Affective images of tourism destinations. Journal of Travel Research, 35, 11–15.

Baloglu, S., & McCleary, K. (1999). A model of destination image formation. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(4), 868–897.

Beard, J., & Ragheb, M. (1983). Measuring leisure motivation. Journal of Leisure Research, 15(3), 219–228.

Cheron, E., & Ritchie, B. (1982). Leisure activities and perceived risk. Journal of Leisure Research, 14(2), 139–154.

Chon, K. (1990). The role of destination image in tourism: A review and discussion . The Tourist Review, Vol. 45 No. 2, 2–9.

Crompton, J. (1979). Motivations for pleasure vacation. Annals of Tourism Research, 6(4), 408–424.

Crompton, J., & Ankomah, P. (1993). Choice set propositions in destination decisions’. Annals of Tourism Research, 20, 461–475.

Dann, G. (1981). Tourism motivations: An appraisal. Annals of Tourism Research, 8(2), 189–219.

Echtner, C., & Ritchie, J. (1993). The measurement of destination image: an empirical assessment. Journal of Travel Research, 31(3), 3–13.

Fodness, D. (1994). Measuring tourist motivation. Annals of Tourism Research, 21(3), 555–581.

Gnoth, J. (1997). Tourism motivation and expectation formation. Annals of Tourism Research, 24, 283–304.

Goossens, C. (2000). Tourism information and pleasure motivation. Annals of Tourism Research, 27, 301–321.

Iso-Ahola, S. (1982). Towards a social psychology theory of tourism motivation. Annals of Tourism Research, 9(2), 256–262.

Jenkins, O. (1999). Understanding and measuring tourist destination images. International Journal of Tourism Research, 1(1), 1–15.

Mansfeld, Y. (1992). From motivation to actual travel. Annals of Tourism Research, 19(3), 399–419.

Pearce, P., & Caltabiano, M. (1983). Inferring travel motivation from travelers’ experiences. Journal of Travel Reserch, 22(2), 16–20.

Phelps, A. (1986). Holiday destination image – the problem of assessment. Tourism Management, 7(3), 168–180.

Rohel, W., & Fesenmaier, D. (1992). Risk perceptions and pleasure travel: An exploratory analysis. Journal of Travel Research, 30(4), 17–26.

Ryan, C., & Glendon, I. (1998). Application of leisure motivation scale to tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 25, 169–184.

Sönmez, S. F., & Graefe, A. R. (1998). Determining future travel behavior from past travel experience and perceptions of risk and safety. Journal of Travel Research, 171–177.

Sönmez, S., & Graefe, A. (1998). Influence of terrorism risk on foreign tourism decisions. Annals of Tourism Research, 25(1), 112–144.

Um, S., & Crompton, J. (1990). Attitude determinants in tourism destination choice. Annals of Tourism Research, 17, 432–448.

Um, S., & Crompton, J. (1992). The role of perceived inhibitors and facilitators in pleasure travel destination decisions. Journal of Travel Research, 30(3), 18–25.

Yuan, S., & McDonnald, C. (1990). Motivational determinants of international pleasure time. Journal of Travel Research, 29(1), 42–44.

Authors’ works by theme

Communication in Tourism

Abrantes, J., Seabra, C., Lages, C., & Jayawardhena, C. (2013). Drivers of in-group and out-of-group electronic word-of-mouth (EWOM). European Journal Marketing, 47(7), 1067–1088.

Alves, S., Abrantes, J., Seabra, C., Nogueira, M., & Herstein, R. (2016). Wom antecedents in backpacker travelers. Journal of Business Research, 69(5), 1851–1856.

Ribeiro, H., Amaro, S., Seabra, C., & Abrantes, J. L. (2014). Travel content creation: The influence of innovativeness, involvement and use of social media. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology, 5(3), 245–260.

Seabra, C., Abrantes, J., & Lages, L. (2007). The impact of external information sources in expectations formation and future use of media. Tourism Management, 28(6), 1541–1554.

Seabra, C., Lages, L., & Abrantes, J. (2009). The INFOSOURCE Scale: A Measure to Assess External Tourism Information Sources’ Importance. Em A. Fyall, M. A. Kozac, J. Gnoth, & S. Lebe (Edits.), Marketing Innovations for Sustainable Destinations (pp. 11–16). London: Goddfellow Publishers.

Vaz Serra, P.; Seabra, C. (2021). Digital influencers and tourist destinations: Cristiano Ronaldo and Madeira island, from promotion to impact. In Guarda T., Portela F., Santos M.F. (eds), Advanced Research in Technologies, Information, Innovation and Sustainability. ARTIIS 2021. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 1485 (pp. 302–317). Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Risks in Tourism: Terrorism and Covid-19

Edited books:

Seabra, C. & Korstanje, M. (Eds.) (2022 (forthcoming) Safety and Tourism – Risk types affecting tourism industry. London: EMERALD Publishing.

Seabra, C.; Silva, C.; Paiva, O., & Abrantes, J.L. (Eds) (2021). Pandemics and Travel: COVID-19 Impacts in the Tourism Industry. London: EMERALD Publishing

Papers published:

Caldeira, A.; AlAshry, M.; Seabra, C. (2022 (forthcoming)). Contrasting the COVID-19 effects on tourism safety perceptions and coping behaviour among young people during two pandemic waves: evidence from Egypt. Sustainability, Special Issue, 13.

Seabra, C. (2019). Terrorism and tourism revisited. Em A. Correia, A. Fyall, & M. Kozak (Edits.), Experiential Consumption and Marketing in Tourism: A Cross-Cultural context (pp. 57–75). Oxford: Goodfellow Publishers.

Seabra, C. (2022 (forthcoming)). European Millennial’s: How terrorism threat influences their leisure and travel behaviors? In Alastair Morrison and Dimitrios Buhalis (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Trends and Issues in Global Tourism (RHTIGT). London: Routledge.

Seabra, C., Abrantes, J., & Kastenholz, E. (2012). TerrorScale: A scale to measure the contact of international tourists with terrorism. Journal of Tourism Research & Hospitality, 1(4), 1–8.

Seabra, C., Abrantes, J., & Kastenholz, E. (2014). The influence of terrorism risk perception on purchase involvement and safety concern international travellers. Journal of Marketing Management, 30(9–10), 874–903.

Seabra, C., AlAshry, M., Çınar, K., Raja, I., Reis, M., & Sadiq, N. (2021). Restrictions’ acceptance and risk perception in a COVID19 context by young generations. International Journal of Tourism Cities, 7(2), 463–491. doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-08-2020-0165

Seabra, C., Cravidão, F., & Gomes, G. (2022 (forthcoming)). Tourism industry after the COVID19 crisis in Portugal – Now what? Em A. Trono, T. Duda, & J. Schmude (Edits.), Over Tourism and Tourism Over. Recovery from COVID19 Tourism Crisis in Regions with Over and Under Tourism. London: World Scientific Publisher.

Seabra, C., Dolnicar, S., & Abrantes, J. L. (2013). Heterogeneity in risk and safety perceptions of international tourists. Tourism Management, 36, 502–510.

Seabra, C., Kastenholz, E., Abrantes, J. L., & Reis, M. (2018). Peacefulness at home: impacts on international travel. International Journal of Tourism Cities, 4(4), 413–428. doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-10-2017-0050

Seabra, C., & Paiva, O. (2020). Global terrorism in tourism cities: The case of World Heritage Sites. Em A. M. Morrison, & J. A. Coca-Stefaniak (Edits.), Routledge Handbook of Tourism Cities (pp. 31–52). London: Routledge.

Seabra, C., Reis, P., & Abrantes, J. (2020). The influence of terrorism in tourism arrivals: A longitudinal approach in a Mediterranean country. Annals of Tourism Research, 80, 102811.

Seabra, C.; Tiwari, S.; Nazir, F. (2023 (forthcoming)). The impact of terrorism events in tourism arrivals and receipts – 30 years of analysis. In Florian Kock, Adam Lindgreen and Stefan Markovic (Eds.) Research Handbook on Tourism, Complexity, and Uncertainty (RHTIGT). London: Edward Elgar.

Vaz Serra, P., & Seabra, C. (2022). Tourists’ behaviour in a post-pandemic context: The consumption variables—A Meta-Analysis. In A. Abreu, D. Liberato, & J. C. Garcia Ojeda (Eds.), Advances in Tourism, Technology and Systems (Vol. 1). Springer Singapore.

Vaz Serra, P.; Seabra, C. (2022 (forthcoming)). The behavioral intentions of tourists: Current perspectives and future trends. In Alastair Morrison and Dimitrios Buhalis (Eds.) Routledge Handbook of Trends and Issues in Global Tourism (RHTIGT). London: Routledge.

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