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Adoption and Non-Adoption: Profiling Internet Usage among Tourists to New Zealand

Since the explosion of the internet as a business medium, one of its primary uses has been marketing. The advantages of using the internet for business-to-consumer transactions are clear. The openness of the internet is creating opportunities for virtually all companies across various industries. The words 'internet', 'World Wide Web', 'www' or the 'web' refer to the same thing and are used interchangeably within this research study. The tourism industry is also experiencing a rapid adoption of the internet technology for marketing travel products and services. As a destination New Zealand is a small country comprising two main land masses and smaller outlying islands, with a population of about 4 million people (Statistics New Zealand 2004). Tourism is promoted as an essential part of the national economy, particularly to earn foreign exchange and generate employment. The number of international tourists visiting New Zealand is 2.2 million (Tourism New Zealand, 2006). In New Zealand almost all regional tourism organizations (RTOs) have a web presence, thereby exposing potential tourists to an array of destinations to visit. However, there are few New Zealand based studies that profile tourists based on their internet adoption and the differences between internet users and non-users. The question that baffles every business manager is what predisposes consumers to use a website? This is the fundamental question that motivated the study. While usability does play a major role in the adoption and use of a particular website, it is outside the scope of this project, otherwise the scope would have been too large and complicated to permit a useable questionnaire given the other concerns about respondents' past experiences and attitudes toward use of the net for the specific purposes of holiday purchases. The study draws upon innovation diffusion theory (IDT) and more recent conceptualizations of IT adoption behaviour to examine differences among Rogers' (1995) adoption categories. Within this context, 'adoption' refers to the stage in which a technology is selected for use by an individual. 'Diffusion' refers to the stage in which the technology spreads to general use and application. For this study an attempt is made to create a behavioural profile of visitors based on a sample of 517 overseas visitors to New Zealand. Visitors were asked to complete a questionnaire and provide information on their demographics, travel related behaviour, internet usage patterns, perceptions of the internet and online shopping in general. The thesis thus describes the initiation and evolution of an empirical research project, which investigates the adoption and diffusion of internet technologies amongst international visitors to New Zealand. The study was launched in an attempt to: 1) learn more about internet usage by visitors to New Zealand; 2) create a psychographic profile of visitors; 3) attempt to empirically validate the technology acceptance model (TAM); and 4) fill a noticeable void so that future researchers on IT and internet adoption by tourists in New Zealand have a foundation and starting point. Most of the previous research related to TAM has been in workplace related situations while studies in tourism have used students as subjects, rather than actual visitors to a particular destination (Shang et al., 2005, Moon and Kim, 2001, Klopping and McKinney, 2004). Specific market studies undertaken by destination marketing organisations or regional tourism organisations were considered only inasmuch as they aided generalization as place specificity hindered conceptual development pertaining to themes of adoption and general usage patterns. The study seeks to build on Rogers' (1995) seminal work on the diffusion of innovations and make a unique contribution to existing diffusion studies by its focus on the individual visitors as the unit of analysis and by its test of the TAM model. This study presents descriptive results via standard statistical analysis, a cluster analysis of users and a structural equation modelling of the TAM applied within a context of international visitors to New Zealand. The data were collected at major locations - the viaduct basin in Auckland and the international departure lounge at the Christchurch International Airport. The two locations were chosen to enable faster data collection. Initially the data was gathered at the viaduct basin in Auckland but the number of respondents was not many. Since the data collection was slow, decided to collect from Christchurch International airport where departing passengers could be approached. Individual passengers/tourists were approached and a screening question to ascertain if they were visitors or not was asked. If they were visiting, then they were asked to participate in the survey. No prior specific screening was undertaken to determine if they had used internet or not for their trip/travel to New Zealand. However, subsequent analysis shows that only 2.3% of the sample had not used the internet, and 31% of the sample had not bought tourism products or services over the internet. Therefore, overall, experience and internet usage was not uncommon for the majority of the sample, but a large proportion of non-users existed to permit comparative analysis. While there is a bias towards males in the sample, the 19-35 years age group was slightly more numerous for both genders, than were other age groups. The results indicate that mean internet usage is comparatively high, as is familiarity with many electronic consumer durables. The sample possesses a bias toward English speaking countries, younger people and educationally higher qualified people. Internet search engines seem to be the most popular source of search. The socio-demographic variables such as age, gender and educational attainment appeared to be but a moderate influence on general internet usage and thus on the use of the internet for booking holidays. Factor analysis of the attitudinal statements revealed six factors, which accounted for about 60 % of the total variance. The clear emergence of factors enabled the development of clusters. The clusters appear to have significance with reference to usage rates of internet. The home ownership of electronics shows a high percentage of respondents had mobile phones. This implies that New Zealand Tourism has to look at options or possible services it can introduce to market to these people who could be using mobile devices not only in their country but also while travelling in New Zealand. Wireless is another important development in the field of technology and many of the tourism DMO in other developed countries in Europe and US are adapting approaches based on these technologies to market to potential customers.
Type of thesis
Rao, U. (2007). Adoption and Non-Adoption: Profiling Internet Usage among Tourists to New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2620
The University of Waikato
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