FACTORS INFLUENCING CHINESE VISITORS’ DINING EXPERIENCES WITH THAI CUISINE IN BANGKOK, THAILAND
For an increasing number of visitors, dining out at their destinations is an important part of their travel experience. With the rising trend in local cuisine, many destinations are focusing on food as their core tourism product. Therefore, food providers in tourist markets should understand how visitors respond to the dining experiences they offer, in order to better meet their needs and expectations. Thailand has the potential to be a top destination for culinary tourism. Visitors seek unforgettable experiences of exotic food and drink imbued with the essence of Thai culture. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of empirical study into the food experiences of Chinese visitors, with regard to the consumption of Thai food. Many studies involving tourists’ food experiences have appeared in areas other than food tourism. The goal of this study was to explore factors influencing the satisfaction and behavioral intentions of Chinese visitors with regard to Thai food. The questionnaire was developed to include 38 potential factors influencing the dining experience, with respondents being asked to rate their perception of Thai cuisine. 400 questionnaires were sent to Chinese visitors in Bangkok. The results provide strong evidence that food image, cultural aspects of food, perceived price, and travel characteristics of the travel party, have significant influences on overall satisfaction. This study also confirms that overall satisfaction is strongly associated with behavioral intentions. This paper may serve as a guide for future studies in this area. It may also help TAT to develop a national culinary tourism strategy, and for practitioners in the food service sector to realize that certain customer expectations necessitate improvements in customer service.