Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Business

Faculty

Business and Law

First Advisor

Dr Maria Ryan

Second Advisor

Associate Professor Madeleine Ogilvie

Abstract

Over the past decade, heritage tourism has become a significant growth industry worldwide. Fuelled in part by nostalgia for the past, tourists seem to have the desire to visit archaeological sites. A review of the literature reveals that many visitors return to heritage places repeatedly over a short period of time. While the reason visitors return to heritage sites vary and may be individualistic; place attachment may be a major intrinsic element.

The main purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between place attachment and tourists’ intentions for return visits to heritage sites. The overall objectives of the research include to (a) clarify the intrinsic reasons why tourists tend to associate themselves with a place and subsequently revisit that site, (b) develop a model based on an adaptation of the theory of planned behaviour to understand people’s intention to revisit heritage places in the United Arab Emirates and specifically in Ras Al khaimah (RAK), and (c) determine whether the addition of place attachment to Shen’s previously modified theory of planned behaviour adds significantly to the explanatory power of the model.

This research addresses visitors’ intentions to revisit heritage sites in Ras Al khaimah (RAK), one of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a case study. The study explores the impact of heritage tourism on the economy of RAK. In order to develop a sound framework for the research, the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), which has been used to explain behaviour in a variety of contexts, is utilised as the basis for the framework proposed for this study (Ajzen, 1991). This theory, however, was adapted to include the additional construct of place attachment (Shen, Schuttemeyer, & Braun, 2009).

The design of the study includes both quantitative and qualitative methods for data analysis. The data for the quantitative portion of the study was obtained via a self– administered questionnaire utilising a convenience sample of 392 tourists visiting RAK. The qualitative methodology consists of interviews with four Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the tourism department and 13 private tourism agencies of the four major emirates in the UAE, which are: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and RAK.

The findings of this study revealed that the main relationships between the respondents and the place were positive. Correlation analysis and a series of multiple regressions were conducted to explore the relationship between place attachment and intentions for return visit to heritage sites. The results indicate that the impact of place attachment on intention for return visit to heritage sites were significant predictors of different periods after the first–time visit. Additionally, there was a significant positive relationship between tourism and the economy of the UAE in general and RAK in particular through increasing the numbers of international and resident tourists. The potential implications of the study clarified that a number of plans should be considered by the Government to develop and increase the number of visitors to RAK. The cooperation between government departments and travel agents within and external to the UAE was considered to be the most important focus for future planning.

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