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Angelakis, G.; Vecchio, Y.; Lemonakis, C.; Atsalakis, G.; Zopounidis, C.; Mattas, K. Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45631 (accessed on 15 April 2024).
Angelakis G, Vecchio Y, Lemonakis C, Atsalakis G, Zopounidis C, Mattas K. Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45631. Accessed April 15, 2024.
Angelakis, Georgios, Yari Vecchio, Christos Lemonakis, Georgios Atsalakis, Constantin Zopounidis, Konstadinos Mattas. "Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45631 (accessed April 15, 2024).
Angelakis, G., Vecchio, Y., Lemonakis, C., Atsalakis, G., Zopounidis, C., & Mattas, K. (2023, June 15). Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/45631
Angelakis, Georgios, et al. "Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists." Encyclopedia. Web. 15 June, 2023.
Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists
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Food tourism has been growing globally in recent years. Food tourism is considered as special interest tourism, attracting tourists who have a great interest in food. Tourists spend a significant percentage of their budget on the purchase of local food products and related food activities, contributing to the sustainable development of the touristic destination in the process. 

food tourism behavioral intentions

1. Introduction

Gastronomy has become one of the fundamental components in the selection of a tourist destination. According to [1], among their main motivations in choosing their tourist destination, 15% of tourists are influenced by a place’s gastronomy. A survey conducted by Hilton Worldwide found that roughly 36% of tourists visiting the Asia-Pacific region referred to food as a critical factor shaping the destinations to which they would travel [2]. According to the World Food Travel Association, 53% of leisure travelers are food travelers and 81% of travelers learn about food and drink when they visit a destination, while 59% of travelers believe that food and beverages are more important when they travel than they were 5 years ago [3]. This tendency seems to hold true in Greece during the pandemic as well, where tourists had a more positive attitude towards food than before COVID-19 and were more motivated to consume local food, resulting in spending more money on food and being more willing to taste local food and visit Greek food establishments [4]. In this research, it has been proved that a significant percentage of tourists (31%) claimed that food experiences were very important in choosing Crete as their final destination.
Those trends have given rise to another type of tourism, so-called ‘food tourism’. Tourists are identified according to different groups, such as comfort seekers, moderates, and authenticity seekers, based on the degree of interest in the authenticity of local food and similar gastronomic activities [5], and depending on the preference of their gastronomic experiences, they are identified as survivors, enjoyers, and experiencers [6]. The group of individuals whose primary reason for traveling is gastronomy, who are highly involved in related activities, are called gastronomes or food tourists/travelers, and they may even travel far away for the purpose of a food/gastronomic experience [7].
The contribution made by local products to local sustainable development has been recognized. By consuming local food products, tourists not only satisfy their vital needs but also interact with local culture and support local development by stimulating demand [8]. A more focused attitude on the local cuisine could have a major impact on higher planned expenditure on the part of tourists, with a maximum behavioral loyalty and greater appreciation of the quality or degree of innovation [9]. Ref. [10] concluded that local products were ranked in first place compared to global ones, with the most significance placed on their socioeconomic and health dimensions. Moreover, the Mediterranean Diet (MD) could be used as a dynamic tool for promoting sustainable development, emphasizing, among other elements, the mythological aspect of the MD for attaining cultural, economic, and social development [11].

2. Behavioral Intentions of Food Tourists

2.1. Motivational Factors

According to [12], there are two types of factors, namely push and pull, in any kind of travel decision. Push factors are internal motivations that urge tourists to decide to travel. Pull factors are external ones related to the destination’s characteristics, which leads to making a decision about a holiday destination. Many studies are based on these motives when trying to understand and evaluate the level of influence they have on tourists’ behavioral intentions while on vacation. Dimensions of motivation such as escape, change, excitement, taste of food/wine, socialization, interpersonal relationships, social status, family togetherness, relaxation, enjoyment, cultural experiences, novelty, knowledge, and learning can be characterized as push factors. Food tourism appeals, such as food events, food fairs, food trails and tours, markets, restaurants and cooking schools, food producers and staff, core wine products, wineries, food variety, and destination appeals (unique specialty shops, markets selling local farm produce, cultural events, the rural environment and farmers’ markets, etc.) can be characterized as pull factors [13].
An exciting experience, food tourism appeal, interpersonal relationships, and sensory appeal significantly influence domestic tourists’ intention to visit Bali, whereas the cultural experience, health concerns, and social values do not have significant effects on intentions to revisit the region [14]. In the study of [15], it was found that high core wine attributes and education, high product involvement, and high participation in wine events, combined with escape and socialization or with the destination’s attractiveness, lead to tourists’ positive behavioral intentions in the Iberian Peninsula, while vineyard aesthetics, core wine attributes of the product, and educational experience are considered as the key drivers of wine tourism rather than the social context of the visit or the general regional characteristics in Northern Greece [16].
Based on the Experience Economy Model, the experiences connected with education and entertainment, and not the aesthetic and escapist dimensions, are the key factors for tourists who visit Cognac in France for wine tourism [17]. On the other hand, education and entertainment might not increase the tourists’ perceptions of Street Food Festivals, while motivations related to escapism, memory, and aesthetics result in positive predictors [18]. According to the six-dimensional structure of experience quality, entertainment and learning factors were considered as the least important components [19]. Hedonic values influence consumers’ intention to visit food trucks not only directly but also indirectly, through the creation of positive attitudes, while utilitarian values impact consumers’ intention only indirectly by evoking a positive attitude toward food trucks [20]. Moreover, memorable local food experiences (cultural, educational, novelty, hedonism–meaningfulness, and adverse experience) can affect both tourists’ intentions to recommend and to revisit a food establishment [19][21], while nostalgia has both direct and indirect effects on consumption intention in [22].
Concerning ethnic food in Malaysia, only when Dayak food is appreciated and accepted by the locals could the food be further promoted to tourists [23], whereas strong appreciation for local food specialties has a positive influence only on the intention to (re)visit the place of origin in mountainous areas in Italy [24]. Moreover, increasing the public’s knowledge/awareness about festivals in the USA is regarded as a priority in order to have favorable behavioral intentions [25], while the interactive components of theme, product, and design were considered by tourists as key sources of learning and entertainment that enhance the attractiveness of a salt destination and influence tourists’ decisions [26].
Although there are numerous studies focused on the above dimensions of push and pull factors as independent variables, the number of studies that investigate the possibility of perceived value and/or perceived quality as broader categories that directly or indirectly influence tourists’ behavioral intentions is actually quite limited [27][28][29][30][31][32].

2.2. Visitor’s Satisfaction

Gastronomic motivation affects the choice of the destination and the gastronomic experience influences satisfaction, while tourists express a high level of satisfaction with the gastronomic attributes of the destination, leading even to loyalty [1]. Experience quality has a significant effect on customers’ loyalty, advocacy, and satisfaction; thus, pleasant experiences should be created in order to evoke higher satisfaction levels and to positively affect tourists’ behavioral intentions [19]. Connecting satisfaction with the gastronomy of the destination may affect revisiting and/or recommending the place, given its culinary distinction [33]. This was the case with a festival in Malaysia, where the majority of tourists were satisfied and would not only revisit the festival again in the future but will recommend it to others as well [34]. Moreover, perceived value and perceived quality of a destination only indirectly affect the behavioral intention of tourists to recommend festivals in Taiwan through the positive influence on satisfaction [31]. In contrast, that outcome was not consistent with previous research [29][32]. Moreover, at halal-friendly destinations, the constructs of perceived value, destination satisfaction, trust, and loyalty significantly contribute to the prediction of tourists’ future desire for a destination [35].
The elements of customers’ emotional experience have to be comprehensively managed in order to achieve higher satisfaction that will enhance favorable behavioral intentions in halal food establishments [36]. The increase in friendly restaurant attachment dimensions (experiential value) will increase experiential relationship quality dimensions (satisfaction and trust of customers), and this, in turn, will increase experiential relationship intentions [37]. The same results hold in the survey of [38] at pop-up restaurants, where those components led to an increase in behavioral outcomes, specifically the intention to spread positive word of mouth (WOM), return intentions, and an increased willingness to pay. Ref. [39] concluded that only one type of experiential value, namely, consumer return on investment (CROI), can positively and significantly affect a place’s food image, while there were positive effects of prestige values (with the exclusion of uniqueness) on affective commitment, which, in turn, positively influences the customer’s behavioral intention and their intention to revisit premium food markets [40].
In ethnic restaurants, authenticity has been considered a critical factor for enhancing customer satisfaction and purchase intentions, whereas the mediating role of customers’ perceptions of authenticity is emphasized in which unfamiliar ingredients, unique food names, and stories about food origins enhance consumers’ perceptions of authenticity [41]. Concerning perceived authenticity, unfamiliar food names, and ingredients significantly boost customers’ perceptions of authenticity and evoke positive emotions, in comparison with familiar food names and ingredients that arouse negative emotions [42], whereas consumers’ perceived authenticity affects their purchase intention not only directly but also indirectly through restaurant image and positive emotions [43].
Regarding wine tourism, two different attributes such as winery tours/wine tasting and overall ambiance impacted visitors’ satisfaction, whereas the revisit intentions of winery tourists started to significantly decrease after a certain number of repeat visits, but it takes a higher number of repeat visits for highly satisfied tourists’ revisit intentions to start diminishing [44]. There is also a positive relationship between wine promotion and customer satisfaction, while customer satisfaction significantly influences behavioral intention in South Korea [45]. Moreover, the effects of satisfaction with four types of local food (Portuguese, buffet, Michelin, and street-snack) and integrated satisfaction with food experience on WOM regarding Portuguese foods in Macau were investigated with different effects for satisfaction in each type [46]. Furthermore, the element of novelty-seeking produces moderate satisfaction with the consumption of local food. Refs. [47][48] suggested that visitors who prefer and take gastronomic experiences in Portugal seem to have neophilic tendencies (i.e., a preference for novel food flavours), given the fact that those groups of tourists (the so-called experiencers and authenticity seekers) have the tendency to seek out new food experiences [8].
Despite the fact that there is research focused on the above characteristics of the relations between emotional experiences, experiential values, perceived authenticity, promotion and satisfaction, there is a research gap in studies that investigate the possibility of perceived value and/or perceived quality as broader categories that indirectly influence tourists’ behavioral intentions through satisfaction [27][30][31].

2.3. Theory of Planned Behavior

The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is widely used in the food tourism sector. Three main characteristics are always evaluated in TPB, namely, attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavior control, in order to examine their influence towards behavioral intentions to consume/purchase and WTP for local food products, to revisit the destination/food service establishment, and to recommend/use WOM about local food products, food establishments and destinations.
The study of [49] applies TPB to conclude that food’s sensory appeal and the communication gap are not significant in the prediction of Chinese tourists’ attitudes, whereas food concerns and table manners could deteriorate their attitudes in the consumption of unfamiliar local food in the USA. TPB is also used in the wine sector [50], suggesting that winescape service staff and complementary products in the first place, followed by winescape setting and wine value, had a significant influence on wine tourists’ attitudes toward the winery, and, in turn, revisit intentions and willingness to recommend them. TPB can be applied in the field of street food as well. Ref. [51] showed that affection, perceived service quality and satisfaction, rather than perception of hygiene, food quality, and value for money, have the highest influence on consumers’ attitudes towards street food, which, in turn, affect their future behavioral intention in Phuket. Regarding ethnic food, using TPB, ref. [52] concluded that while tourists from different countries of Asia appear to have almost the same behavioral intentions, when they visit Sarawak in Malaysia, they have different consumption intentions toward Dayak food. TPB is also used in festivals. Attitude was the most significant component that influenced the revisit intentions of local and small culinary festivals in Italy with food and beverage quality in first place, and staff service and information had the greatest impact factor on tourists’ attitudes; concerning the other two elements of TPB, subjective norms also affected behavioral intentions compared to perceived behavior control, which seems to have no statistical influence on revisit intentions [53]. These findings are in line with those of previous tourism studies [50][54][55].
An extended TPB model, including further major components in tourism marketing, was developed by [56]; besides the core TPB constructs, added variables such as travel motivation, eWOM, destination image, and destination familiarity indeed exert a significant impact on tourists’ intentions to revisit Egypt, while a mediating role of attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control also exists. In their extended model of TPB incorporating satisfaction, destination image, perceived risk, service quality, and perceived value, ref. [27] showed that perceived behavioral control, perceived value, destination image, and satisfaction significantly influence visitors’ revisit intentions, while perceived value, perceived service quality, and destination image had a strong impact on satisfaction, which, in turn, was found to be an important mediator between perceived service quality, destination image, and perceived value. In the extended model of [57], besides the fact that the three main constructs have a positive influence on domestic tourists’ consumption intentions toward local food in China, it was also found that attitudes play a partial mediating role between benefit perceptions and intentions, with the benefit perceptions having a significant positive effect on attitudes and behavioral intentions, whereas risk perceptions affect behavioral intentions in a negative way.
By using perceived benefits to business, perceived difficulties in production, and the service of indigenous dishes, as well as customer patronage instead of perceived behavior control in the TPB extended model, ref. [58] found that attitude and perceived difficulties in production and the service of indigenous dishes were not significant predictors in affecting intentions to add more indigenous dishes, whereas subjective norms in the first place, followed by perceived customer patronage, were the most significant factors influencing behavioral intentions towards the inclusion of a greater variety of indigenous dishes on the menu of small- and medium-sized hotels in Ghana.
Ref. [59] developed an extended model of goal-directed behavior by including perceptions of authenticity, knowledge, and information search behavior in the original model of goal-directed behavior (MGB), which consisted of positive and negative anticipated emotions and frequency of past behavior, besides the elements of TPB that significantly influence desires, which, in turn, significantly influence tourists’ behavioral intentions to visit a slow-tourism destination in Korea.
Although food tourists’ behavioral intentions on some occasions could be explained by TPB, if there is a need to include broader characteristics of food tourism, an augmented TPB should be used. Characteristics that concern tourism marketing, perceived benefits, perceived risks and difficulties, positive and negative anticipated emotions, and perceptions of authenticity have already been included in extended TPB models [27][56][57][58][59]. However, there is a research gap when satisfaction is included as an extra component that directly affects the behavioral intentions of tourists, which also plays a mediator role between perceived quality, perceived value, and intentions [27].

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