Travel Risk Perceptions Among International Students

Student thesis: Master programme thesis

  • Andreea Lemnaru
4. term, Tourism, Master (Master Programme)
With an increasing global trend of student mobility, and a valuable market for the Universities and national economies, there has been an emerging body of research into the students- related travel and leisure behaviors. Even though over the past decade the tourism industry has recognized the opportunity for attracting this new tourist market, few research has been conducted to explore the international students’ travel behavior in accordance to their risk perceptions. The literature on the subject suggested previously that traveler and trip characteristics should be examined in connection with perceived risks due to the fact that it might have an influence on the type of perceived risk and that it can help create a more targeted mitigation strategy in relation to the perceived risks. Additionally, most of the past research has been conducted with leisure travelers from specific countries and very few with international students as a group.
The current study attempts to fill a gap in the literature and explore the way that the travel risk perceptions of the international students from AAU, are influenced by their individual characteristics (country of origin, gender, age) and trip characteristics (destination of choice, past travel experiences). The research will be conducted as a comparison between Eastern European students and Western European students. Finally, by attempting to identify the underlying risk perceptions of the targeted groups, potential traveling barriers could be mitigated.
An investigation of the theoretical implications has been conducted from a quantitative perspective. A survey with 150 validated responses has been conducted in order to identify the way that the individual characteristics and trip characteristics has an influence on the perceived travel risks, as well as investigating whether or not there is a difference in risk perceptions between two different groups of international students. The two separately investigated groups were Eastern European students and Western European students, both studying at Aalborg University.
The findings confirmed previous studies and literature, meaning that both aspects of the travelers’ characteristics and trip characteristics seem to have a certain influence on the perceived risks of the respondents. According to the generated data, it is clear that overall, the Eastern European group of respondents expressed more travel risk-perceptions than the Western European group, especially in the “human-induced risks” category and in the “financial and health” category. Furthermore, the Western European group had overall less risk-perception factors, with a concern regarding the lack of new experience, which is related to the category of “social-psychological risks”, while the Eastern European sample group has expressed many concerns towards financial, performance and facilities of the destination, as well as health and hygiene factors. Lastly, another matter investigated within this project was the impact of the current pandemic, COVID-19, on the perceived travel risks of the respondents. With unprecedent travel restrictions all over the world as a safety measurements, it was important to include this aspect within the project and investigate its impact on the international students’ travel risk perceptions.
The results of this project contribute to the understanding of the travel behavior and intentions of the Eastern and Western European students from Aalborg University. The connection between risk perceptions and its influence on travelling of the international students, has revealed the direct impact on the destination choice of respondents. By identifying an anticipating the destination choice and travel behavior of the students, tourism organizations such as DMO’s and travel agents could use the information and implemented in a strategy that mitigates the barriers of travel intentions.
Publication date16 Dec 2020
Number of pages59
ID: 393477427