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Defining quality in tourism

Quality of service is understood by customers to correspond to the magnitude of the discrepancy between customers’ expectations or desires and their perceptions of the service received (expected quality versus perceived quality).

Nevertheless, it is important to consider that tourism is a composed product and a dynamic interaction between different, highly-specialised activities. As such, a generalist concept of quality cannot reflect the complexity of its reality in tourism.

Moreover, the tourist’s perception of the destination depends on multiple factors, which are not contained within the limits of the tourist activity itself; it might encompass public services, the reception/hospitality of residents, the existing equipment/infrastructure, security, and so on.

This is called Experience Quality, and studies have indicated that it is a multi-dimensional concept that refers to various aspects according to a particular context (Li, Wang, Xia, Chen, & Chen, 2019).

For instance, Otto and Ritchie (1996) identified four dimensions of Experience Quality in tourism: hedonic, peace of mind, involvement and recognition. Similarly, four other dimensions – immersion, surprise, participation, and fun – were extracted from a study of theme parks (Kao, Huang, & Wu, 2008).

If any of these factors lead to a negative experience, the tourist is likely to feel dissatisfied with the tourist product as a whole, even though the product itself (as supplied by the tourism company), may well be delivering the quality it promised.

For this reason, the quality of a tourism product should be balanced by taking into account the composite experience – which is made up of both the specific product and the broader tourist destination in which it exists.

Your task

Share your thoughts on how overtourism affects the quality of a tourism product.

Further reading

If you’re enrolled on the full module, you may wish to read the following journal article available through Locate:

Butnaru, G. I., & Miller, A. (2012). ‘Conceptual approaches on quality and theory of tourism services’. Procedia Economics and Finance, 3 [online] 375–380. available from https://doi.org/10.1016/s2212-5671(12)00167-0


Kao, Y.-F., Huang, L.-S., & Wu, C.-H. (2008). Effects of Theatrical Elements on Experiential Quality and Loyalty Intentions for Theme Parks. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 13(2), 163–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/10941660802048480

Li, X., Wang, Z.-H., Xia, B., Chen, S.-C., & Chen, S. (2019). Testing the associations between quality-based factors and their impacts on historic village tourism. Tourism Management Perspectives, 32, 10057. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tmp.2019.100573

Otto, J. E., & Ritchie, J. R. B. (1996). The service experience in tourism. Tourism Management, 17(3), 165–174. https://doi.org/10.1016/0261-5177(96)00003-9

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