Asian tourism seasonality, with an emphasis on China's Golden Week system

Chen, Tingzhen (2010) Asian tourism seasonality, with an emphasis on China's Golden Week system. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Seasonality is a distinguishing characteristic of tourism, and it has economic importance thus attracting attention from the academic area as well as from the business and policy making domains. The aim of this thesis is to explore the seasonality phenomenon in Asian tourism, with a particular emphasis on residents' and managers' views of China's Golden Week system. The discussion on this topic starts with a review of key aspects of seasonality in the tourism context, including its definition, causes and impacts. Previous studies on seasonality conducted in the context of Western countries are initially considered. This work is followed by an introduction to seasonality in Asian studies, with a brief discussion of Japan's Golden Week and a focus on China's Golden Week system which is the centre of this study. Based on the literature review, an opportunity exists to better understand seasonality in Asian tourism, particularly the residents' and managers' views of China's Golden Week system. Three studies are implemented to address these research opportunities.

The first study was based on secondary data analysis and it was designed to characterise the seasonality phenomenon in Asian tourism. Secondary data of monthly tourist arrivals to five key Asian countries and four Chinese areas over a time period were selected to identify the seasonality patterns. By comparing the variances between monthly tourist arrivals and the average monthly tourist arrivals, six seasonality patterns were identified and named after six basic landforms – the rolling hills, the plain, the single-peak mountain, the multi-peak mountain, the basin and the plateau. Applying this coding system to over 270 cases, it was found that extreme seasonality patterns do not dominant Asian tourism, but multiple seasonality patterns exist and vary across Asian countries, even within one country (China).

The second study was a quantitative study where a questionnaire survey was applied. The questionnaires were conducted in China over five locations to collect Chinese respondents' (N=450) views of seasonality and Golden Week travelling. By assessing 20 seasonality concerns identified from the literature, this study found that the crowding issue was the most powerful factor influencing tourists' decisions on when to travel. The amount of rain and very high temperatures were also important influences. The Chinese respondents were least influenced by religious and cultural factors, special events and the amount of sunshine. According to their appraisal of their Golden Week travelling experiences, the Golden Week system was very popular for the Chinese residents as it provided them with seven days in which to undertake long-distance and more relaxed trips. This length of time also gave them the opportunity to enjoy nice weather, more activities, and chances to go travelling with families and friends. Nevertheless, some problems resulting from Golden Week system were identified, such as the crowding issue, higher prices and lower level of service. Most of the respondents noted these factors as likely issues reducing their satisfaction with Golden Weeks travel.

The final study was approached by in-depth interviews. A form of discourse analysis was applied to present the interview results. This study sought specific views of seasonality and the Golden Week system from the Chinese tourism managers' perspective. The interviewees were presented with the six seasonality patterns identified in the first study and asked about their perceptions. There was not a single commonly accepted pattern as an ideal model for tourism businesses. The single-peak mountain pattern and the multi-peak mountain pattern were perceived as the most likely to occur in the hotel and catering area. The other patterns were identified as relatively infrequent in all business areas. Managers' reactions to the Golden Week system revealed that this holiday system was very welcome by most of the tourism businesses although some management and environment problems were noted. All the managers were looking forward to a brighter future from Golden Week business.

This thesis has attempted to provide a different format to identify tourism seasonality (the six-pattern coding system in the first study). Besides the findings mentioned above, this thesis has also addressed two literature gaps, one is the combination of 20 seasonality concerns and the exploration of their influence on tourists' travelling time period (discussed in the second study). A second contribution is a multi-regional view from tourist business managers establishing how these industry personnel view the Golden Weeks. A further contribution lies in converting perspectives gathered in Mandarin into the English academic tourism literature (discussed in the second and third study). This thesis also highlighted future areas for tourism seasonality study in other parts of the world where the seasonality phenomenon is not well researched. It has also pointed out the significance of research on the Chinese Golden Week market for tourism worldwide.

Item ID: 19000
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Asian tourism seasonality, Golden Week, Chinese holidays, tourism seasonality, seasonality, tourism, tourist experiences, Japanese holidays, public holidays, Chinese tourist industry, Japanese tourist industry, perceptions
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chen, Tingzhen, and Pearce, Philip L. (2008) A comprehensive approach to Asian seasonality patterns in tourism. ISBN 978-89-957851-5-7. Proceedings of 14th Asia Pacific Tourism Association Annual Conference In: Tourism & Hospitality in Asia Pacific, 9-12 July 2008, Bangkok, Thailand.

Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2012 04:00
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150606 Tourist Behaviour and Visitor Experience @ 100%
SEO Codes: 90 COMMERCIAL SERVICES AND TOURISM > 9003 Tourism > 900302 Socio-Cultural Issues in Tourism @ 70%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services @ 30%
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