Key words

cultural implication; tourism attractiveness; loyalty.

Introduction

Holding festival events as an approach to marketing the industries in various locations has become a new trend in recent years, with the events offering diverse patterns of recreation to tourists and enabling local residents to receive the various benefits derived from the cultural activities held by industries. In 2002, the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MTC) proposed the Plan for the Doubling of Tourist Arrivals under the project Challenge 2008: National Development Plan, of which the main goal was to increase the number of foreign tourists traveling to Taiwan from 1 million to 5 million within 6 years. Therefore, holding festival events becomes the focus of tourism and recreation developments, through which tourists are attracted to festival events not merely because of natural landscapes but also because of the associated human-oriented activities and the messages delivered from the activities. In addition, festival events can prolong the time tourists stay in certain local regions and increase the income of local residents [1].

The government is committed to promoting Taiwan to the world and introducing Taiwan to international tourists as well as to enabling the people in Taiwan to actively participate in the monthly festival events throughout the year and to understand the inherent Taiwan folk tradition. The tourism benefits gained from festival events are substantial. Therefore, the Tourism Bureau selected 12 major local festivals after it organized the Taiwan Ecotourism Year in 2002 to transform Taiwan into an island of festivals. With the government committed to promoting domestic tourism, enhancing the international visibility of Taiwan tourism, and attracting international tourists, numerous festival events have been held. The events are combined with local characteristics to enhance the implications of festival events. Statistical data released by the Tourism Bureau regarding the 12 major local festival events held for the first time revealed that the number of tourists totaled 10.95 million, and the tourism profits were approximately NT$3.2 billion. In 2002, 10 million tourists participated in the 12 major festival events, which generated tourism profits of approximately NT$2.3 billion. Accordingly, holding festival events can attract foreign tourists to Taiwan and generate considerable tourism expenditures [2].

Festival tourism can preserve local characteristics and benefits tourism development; thus, it has gradually become the most appropriate choice for tourism industry development in Taiwan. Short-term festival events combined with local human cultural resources and cultural assets can strengthen the local tourism image and attract tourists [3]. On the basis of the agenda of each county and city from Northern to Southern Taiwan, numerous and diverse festival events are organized to celebrate religion, culture, the tourism season, and the harvest, and flower carnivals are also held. Some of the examples are as follows: the Yilan International Children’s Folklore & Folkgame Festival, Taipei Film Festival, Yingge Ceramics Carnival, Firefly Observation Activity at Neiwan Village of Hsinchu, Hsinchu City Int’l Glass Art Festival, Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, Dajia Thean Hou Temple Festival in Taichung, Baihe Lotus Season Festival in Tainan, and Pingtung BlueFin Tuna Cultural Festival. According to the data released by each county and city government, more than 90 tourism festivals were held by local governments in Taiwan in 2002. The actual number of annual tourism festivals was estimated to be more than 100; thus, Taiwan has attained the goal of becoming an island of festivals.

Cultural implications refer to the spiritual and material creations generated by humans who have collectively lived and procreated in the natural world for a long time, with the creation continuously influencing the evolution of human society. Cultural implications are the results of the long-term evolution of forms such as culture, art, folklore, handicrafts, and history, all of which are integrated with humanity, nature, substance, spirit, and life. Cultural implications are associated with uniqueness and are the basis of cultural recognition [4]. Yeh (1998) indicated that festival events incorporating cultural implications enable tourists to enjoy leisure activities and profoundly experience local cultural characteristics [5]. Huang (2004) indicated that integrating local festival events can promote the development of the local cultural tourism industry [6]. Chiang and Kuo (2008) reported that local cultural characteristics can be strengthened by integrating local cultural resources and by the participation of local residents; therefore, participants can feel satisfied when they engage in relevant events [7].

Festival events are appealing because they offer unique tourism and recreation activities, which are attractive to tourists. In addition, Cheng and Chen (2007) indicated that attractiveness is a critical factor prompting tourists to participate in tourism and recreation activities [8]. Chien (2001) explored folk festival events and determined that the attractiveness of folk festivals to foreign tourists for tourism is substantial; in other words, the attractiveness of folk festivals to tourists differs according to tourists’ backgrounds [9]. Ting (2009) reported that under different patterns of folk culture, the differences in the relationship among recreation experiences, cultural implications and recognition, and tourism attractiveness are significant [10]. Liu and Shih (2009) determined that the attractiveness of festival events can increase tourist revisit intention [11]; in other words, the attractiveness of a tourist destination to tourists is determined by the following factors: landscape, tourist participation, tourist memory, and services and facilities that satisfy tourists. Tourism attractiveness that satisfies these criteria increases tourist willingness to revisit festival events.

To date, studies of festival tourism have focused on the following topics: patterns of festival tourism [12], tourist behaviors [13], the benefits of festival events [14], and marketing strategies for festival events [15]. Cheng and Chen (2007) explored the level of attractiveness of the activities held at festivals for tourists, and the results indicated that tourists are attracted to the activities regardless of whether they had previous participation experiences [8]. However, relevant studies of tourist loyalty regarding the influence of cultural implications and tourism attractiveness on tourist loyalty have been scant. Thus, this study aimed to analyze and explore tourist loyalty with regard to the cultural implications and attractiveness of festival tourism. We expect that the analysis results can serve as a reference for relevant personnel and government units for festival tourism decision making.

Literature review

Explanation of terms

Cultural implications

In a broad ethnographic sense, culture is complex and involves knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by humans as members of society [16]. Implications are the results of the long-term evolution of forms such as culture, art, folklore, handicrafts, and history, all of which are integrated with humanity, nature, substance, spirit, and life. In addition, implications are associated with uniqueness and are the basis for recognizing different cultures [4]. Yang (1993) reported that cultural tourism refers to the concept that a country or region showcases its cultural activities to tourists, such as national habits, religious rituals, folk art, traditional crafts, and human activities that are presented in a different time and space [17]. Cultural tourism is a critical index when the focus of tourism and recreation activities transfers from economic development to cultural development.

Tourism attractiveness

Lew (1987) reported that the attractiveness of a tourist destination to tourists consists of the following: landscape, tourist participation, tourist memory, and services and facilities that satisfy tourists [18]. Middleton (1989) reported that attractiveness is the basic factor motivating tourists to visit tourist destinations [19]. Hu and Ritchie (1993) indicated that the attractiveness of tourist destinations is defined according to tourists’ expressions of their feelings and opinions on their level of satisfaction with tourist destinations [20]. Gunn (1993) reported that if marketing is the push factor for tourism, then attractiveness is the pull factor [21]. Thus, tourism attractiveness is a pull factor formed by tourist destinations to attract tourists.

Loyalty

Scholars have developed numerous definitions of loyalty, which differ slightly. Therefore, the definition of customer loyalty varies. Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry (1985) indicated that loyalty refers to customer willingness to repeatedly purchase from companies, recommend companies to others, and provide positive word-of-mouth for companies, such as speaking positively about the company to others, recommending the company to those who are inquiring, encouraging friends and family to make purchases at the company, and prioritizing this company when making purchases [22]. Griffin (1997) indicated that loyalty is associated with purchase behaviors and defined loyalty as follows: frequent repeat purchasing, purchasing various products and services offered by a company, establishing positive word-of-mouth for a company, and frequently purchasing from a company [23]. Fornell (1992) reported that customer loyalty incorporated the following two factors: price tolerance and repurchase intention [24].

Relevant studies on the influences of cultural implications on tourist loyalty

Cultural implications are the results of long-term evolution of forms such as culture, art, folklore, handicrafts, and history, all of which are integrated with humanity, nature, substance, spirit, and life. Cultural implications are associated with uniqueness and are the basis for recognizing different cultures [4]. Chu (2008) reported that the attractiveness of military community culture (e.g., architectural characteristics, cuisine from the military community, festival events, and nostalgia) influences loyalty [25]. Hsu (2009) indicated that whether leisure farms offer resources and activities associated with rural culture influenced tourist loyalty [26]. Thus, we proposed the following hypothesis:

H1: Cultural implications influence loyalty.

Relevant studies on the influence of tourism attractiveness on loyalty

Lee and Chen (2009) reported that the attractiveness of recreational places is positively associated with loyalty, and that systematic planning, marketing, and shaping of the attractiveness of recreational places can effectively attract tourists and promote tourism development [27]. Chu (2008) reported that the attractiveness of military community culture (e.g., architectural characteristics, cuisine from the military community, festival events, and nostalgia) influences loyalty [25]. Li (2009) divided the attractiveness of bed and breakfast (B&B) establishments into three parts: preexperience expectation, postexperience assessment, and expectation disconfirmation; therefore, the attractiveness of B&B establishments influences tourist satisfaction and loyalty [28]. Thus, we proposed the following hypothesis:

H2: Tourism attractiveness influences loyalty.

Methods

Research framework

The two hypotheses are shown in Figure 1

Figure 1: Diagram of the research framework

Sampling Method

This study recruited tourists who had participated in any of the following types of festival event as the research participants: traditional festival (Taichung Lantern Festival), folk festival (Pray for Sea Turtles Festival in the Penghu Islands), religious festival (Mazu Culture Season at Beigang Chaotian Temple and Dajia Jenn Jann Temple in Taichung), cultural festival (Taiwan Rice Culture Festival and Austronesian Cultures Festival in Taitung), and industry festival with special characteristics (Kaohsiung Lantern Festival and International Ceramics Festival). Convenience sampling was employed in this study. After we explained the overall research project to each tourist, a face-to-face questionnaire survey was conducted with the consent of the respondents.

Questionnaire Design

  • Cultural implications: we employed the cultural implication items proposed by Chen (2006) [29] to develop the scale in the present study, in which the Likert scale was used for measurement.
  • Tourism attractiveness: we employed the attractiveness items proposed by Fan-Chiang (2002) [30] to develop the scale in the present study, and the Likert scale was used for measurement.
  • Loyalty: we employed the loyalty items proposed by Berné (1997) [31] to develop the scale in the present study, in which the Likert scale was adopted for measurement.
  • Demographics of the respondents: sex, age, marital status, educational attainment, occupation, and travel with companions.

Data analysis

We explored the influence of the cultural implications and tourism attractiveness of festival tourism on tourist loyalty. On the basis of the hypotheses developed from the research framework, statistical analysis was performed to verify and discuss whether the hypotheses were supported.

Descriptive Statistical Analysis

A total of 305 questionnaires were administered and returned, with a return rate of 100%. Table 1 presents the analysis results. First, a simple descriptive statistical analysis was performed on the individual variables. Table 1 presents the demographics of the samples: most of the respondents were women (60.7%), aged 21–30 years (44.3%), and single (50.8%), and most held a bachelor’s degree (50.2%), traveled with their families (44.9%), and worked in the service industry (24.9%).

Table 1

Descriptive statistical analysis

Variable Number of people % Variable Number of people %
Gender Man 120 39.3 Marital status Single 155 50.8
Woman 185 60.7 Married 150 49.2
Age 21-30 135 44.3 Educational attainment Junior high school 24 7.9
31-40 77 25.2 Senior high school 64 21
41-50 69 22.6 College 51 16.7
51 years or older 24 7.9 University 153 50.2
Travel with companions Friend 109 35.7 Graduate school 13 4.3
Family 137 44.9 Occupation Student 55 18
Colleague 38 12.5 Industrial and commercial industry 59 19.3
Alone 21 6.9 Service industry 76 24.9
Military, public, and teaching personnel 65 21.3
Other 50 16.4

Factor analysis

To further verify the relevant hypotheses, we employed factor analysis to reduce the original number of the cultural implication and tourism attractiveness variables to merely some principal factors in an aim to simplify the complexity of the variables. A principal component analysis was adopted to extract the principal factors. A factor with an eigenvalue of greater than 1 was set as the criterion for extraction. Subsequently, a promax rotation and varimax rotation were performed. After the promax rotation, we selected the factors consisting of items with factor loadings of greater than 0.5 in absolute value. Finally, the factors comprised by the variables were named according to their implications. The cultural implications were divided into two dimensions after factor analysis was performed (Table 2).

  • Factor dimension 1: the dimension was named “cultural integration,” and 10 items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.893. This dimension indicated that festival events simultaneously contained religious, art, and cultural values, all of which were combined with local regions, schools, and relevant industries; in other words, traditions were integrated into cultural activities.
  • Factor dimension 2: the dimension was named “cultural recognition and characteristics,” and four items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.757. This dimension indicated that cultural activities incorporated religious activities and local cultural characteristics to establish unique local styles. Activities were held in an aim to promote tourists to learn and understand local culture.

Table 2

Summary of the factor analysis of cultural implications

Cultural implication items Cultural integration Cultural recognition and characteristics
I think festival events contain implications of arts. 0.535
I think festival events contain implications of cultural values. 0.681
I think festival events contain the functions for promoting local cultural industries. 0.741
I think festival events contain the functions for integrating local cultures, industries, and tourism resources. 0.745
I think festival events can transform local historical contexts into abundant cultural assets. 0.803
I think festival events contain the implications of cultural value preservation. 0.785
I think festival events can offer performance opportunities to folk artists, folk craftsmen, and artists. 0.571
I think festival events should be combined with culture, art, and schools. 0.699
I think festival events should contain the function of experience exchange. 0.701
I think festival events should integrate fine traditions into folk culture. 0.646
I think festival events contain religious implications. 0.747
I think festival events should incorporate relevant religious rituals. 0.591
I think festival events can enable me to profoundly understand regional and national habits. 0.664
I think festival events can establish unique styles of national culture. 0.853
Reliability of the dimension (α) 0.893 0.757
Overall reliability 0.903
Eigenvalue 5.205 2.756
Explainable variance (%) 37.179 19.688
Total variance explained (%) 56.867
KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin) value 0.887
Bartlett sphericity test 2235.756

Tourism attractiveness was divided into three dimensions after factor analysis was performed (Table 3).

  • Factor dimension 1: the dimension was named “comprehensive functions,” and six items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.834. This dimension indicated that the provided transportation facilities, onsite facilities, and recreational spaces were comprehensive.
  • Factor dimension 2: the dimension was named “relaxation and experience,” and five items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.829. This dimension indicated that tourists could experience new recreational activities through festival event participation, thereby enabling them to release their life stress, enhance their physical fitness, and increase their bonds with family members. Therefore, tourists that engaged in the festival events could release their life stress, experience new recreational activities, and interact with their families.
  • Factor dimension 3: the dimension was named “education activity,” and four items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.670. This dimension indicated that the festival events contained cultural implications and educational functions.

Table 3

Summary of the factor analysis of tourism attractiveness

Tourism attractiveness items Comprehensive functions Relaxation and experience Education activities
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events are affordable. 0.689
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events offer recreational spaces. 0.589
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events have comprehensive public facilities. 0.63
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events are very close to the residential area in which I live. 0.733
Tourism attractiveness means that public transportation to the festival events is convenient. 0.762
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events provide comprehensive shopping mechanisms. 0.714
Tourism attractiveness means that I can relax when I participate in festival events. 0.758
Tourism attractiveness means that I can increase the bonds with my family when I participate in festival events. 0.719
Tourism attractiveness means that I can release my current life stress when I participate in festival events. 0.743
Tourism attractiveness means that I can experience new recreational activities when I participate in festival events. 0.715
Tourism attractiveness means that the activities in which I engage at festival events can elevate my physical fitness. 0.609
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events provide spaces for recreational activities. 0.705
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events provide functions of education activity. 0.547
Tourism attractiveness means that festival events contain cultural and historical implications. 0.583
Reliability of the dimension (α) 0.834 0.829 0.67
Overall reliability 0.889
Eigenvalue 3.395 3.024 2.088
Explainable variance (%) 22.634 20.16 13.921
Total variance explained (%) 56.716
KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin) value 0.886
Bartlett sphericity test 1773.048

Loyalty was divided into one dimension after factor analysis was performed (Table 4).

  • Factor dimension 1: the dimension was named “loyalty,” and three items were incorporated into it, with a Cronbach’s α of 0.868. Loyalty referred to whether tourists were willing to recommend the festival events to other people and to revisit the events.

Table 4

Summary of the factor analysis of loyalty

Loyalty items Loyalty
I am loyal to the festival events I select. 0.908
I will continue to select the same festival events. 0.886
I will recommend the festival events to other people. 0.877
Overall reliability 0.868
Eigenvalue 2.379
Explainable variance (%) 79.296
Total variance explained (%) 79.296
KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin) value 0.733
Bartlett sphericity test 450.935

Gap analysis of individual variables

For the data collected in this study, a descriptive statistical analysis was performed on each variable to determine the characteristics of the various dimensions; subsequently, a t test and ANOVA were performed to analyze the influence of different demographic variables on the different variables, in which the analyses were divided into two stages: (1) the first stage analyzed the secondary dimensions of each dimension, and (2) the second stage analyzed the higher-level dimensions (Table 5).

Through further analyses, the results obtained from the cultural recognition and cultural characteristic dimension of the cultural implications revealed that the tourists aged 51 years or older were concerned about whether religious activities and local cultural characteristics were incorporated into the festival events and whether they could learn from the characteristics involved in the festival events. In addition, the results obtained from the comprehensive functions dimension of tourism attractiveness indicated that tourists aged 51 years or older were concerned about whether comprehensive public facilities, child play spaces, and shopping mechanisms were offered by the festival events as well as whether the transportation was convenient.

Table 5

Analysis of individual variables

Primary dimension Secondary dimension Individual variable Relationship
Cultural implications Cultural recognition and characteristics Age 51 years or older > 20-30 years
51 years or older >31-40 years
Tourism attractiveness Comprehensive functions Age 41-50 years > 20-30 years

Correlation analysis of the influence of the cultural implications on loyalty

A regression analysis was performed, in which the cultural implications and loyalty were regarded as an independent and dependent variable, respectively. Table 6 indicates that the cultural implications significantly influenced loyalty, and the explained variance attained was 24.8%, indicating that the cultural implications influenced loyalty. Therefore, H1 was supported. A further analysis indicated that the influence of cultural integration on loyalty was greater than that of cultural recognition and characteristics on loyalty. Thus, if the implications of local culture and art could be integrated into festival events to enable tourists to profoundly understand and experience local culture, then tourist revisit intention and recommend the events to others could be elevated.

Table 6

Summary of the correlation analysis of loyalty

Independent variable Loyalty (Dependent variable)
Standardized beta coefficient
Cultural implications Cultural integration 0.327**
Cultural recognition and characteristics 0.243**
Adjusted R-squared 0.248
F test 51.163**

* P<0.05 ,** P<0.01

Analysis of the influences of tourism attractiveness on loyalty

A regression analysis was performed, in which tourism attractiveness and loyalty were regarded as an independent and dependent variable, respectively. Table 7 displays that tourism attractiveness significantly influenced loyalty, and the explained variance was 24.6%, indicating that tourism attractiveness influenced loyalty. Therefore, H2 was supported. A further analysis indicated that the influence of the education activity dimension on loyalty was greater than that of the comprehensive functions dimension and that of the relaxation and experience dimension. Thus, festival events should provide educational functions to teach the public about these events, should enable tourists to relax and experience new activities, and contain comprehensive facilities, all of which could substantially elevate tourist motivation to engage in the events.

Table 7

Summary of the correlation analysis of the influence of tourism attractiveness on loyalty

Independent variable Loyalty (Dependent variable)
Standardized beta coefficient
Tourism attractiveness Comprehensive functions 0.191**
Relaxation and experience 0.157**
Education activities 0.251**
Adjusted R-squared 0.246
F test 34.149**

* P<0.05 ,** P<0.01

Conclusion and suggestions

Focusing on festival tourism, we explored the correlations among cultural implications, tourism attractiveness, and tourist loyalty. First, the influence of the cultural implications on tourist loyalty was analyzed. According to the results, H1 was supported. This finding corresponded with the results indicated by Chu (2008) [25] and Hsu (2009) [26]. A further analysis revealed that for the cultural implications, cultural integration was the main factor influencing tourism attractiveness, followed by cultural recognition and characteristics; in other words, for festival tourism, tourists were most concerned about whether cultural integration was incorporated, followed by cultural recognition and characteristics.

Second, the influence of tourism attractiveness on loyalty was analyzed; according to the results, H2 was supported. This finding corresponded with the research results indicated by Lee and Chen (2009) [27], Chu (2008) [25], and Li (2009) [28]. A further analysis revealed that for tourism attractiveness, education activities most substantially influenced loyalty, followed by comprehensive functions, and by relaxation and experience. Accordingly, regarding the tourism attractiveness of festival events, tourists were extremely concerned about whether education activities were provided at festival events as well as whether the comprehensive functions and activities at the events enabled tourists to relax and experience new activities, all of which influenced tourist loyalty.

The aforementioned results revealed that elevating the cultural implications and tourism attractiveness positively influenced loyalty. Thus, we offered suggestions that can serve as a reference for relevant departments when they promote festival tourism in the future.

To enhance cultural implications, local cultural characteristics can be combined with festival events to create unique and attractive events, thereby increasing tourist revisit intention. For example, in addition to band performance, the Chiayi City International Band Festival can be combined with local cultural and creative parades to form a unique cultural style for Chiayi City. The Sakura Festival in Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is combined with the celebratory events of local indigenous people, thereby enabling tourists to simultaneously enjoy the views of cherry blossoms and experience various celebratory events of indigenous people. The aim is to highlight the difference between the cherry blossom festival in Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village and the other cherry blossom festivals to elevate tourist revisit intention.

In addition, experience-oriented activities enabling tourists to jointly participate can be designed for festival events, during which the implications and substance of traditional culture can be delivered to improve tourist perceptions of the events; therefore, the amusement and educational implications of the events can be increased and tourist revisit intention can be elevated. For example, in addition to enjoying Chinese sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves during the Dragon Boat Festival, tourists can also attempt to make the bamboo-leaf-wrapped sticky rice by themselves and learn the importance of eating sticky rice at this traditional festival; therefore, tourists can enjoy the cuisine, be amused, and learn at the festival event. Focusing on both the fun and educational implications of the festival event can elevate tourist revisit intention.

To elevate tourism attractiveness, unique festival events can be developed because they positively influence tourist revisit intention. The comprehensiveness of the event facilities was a key factor influencing tourist revisit intention. However, how should comprehensive facilities be defined? We defined festival events with comprehensive facilities as festival events having convenient access to transportation as well as offering comprehensive public facilities, recreational spaces, shopping mechanisms, and affordable products. Transportation convenience in the regions where festival events are held indirectly influence tourist satisfaction and revisit intention. For example, the number of visitors to Eastern Taiwan doubled because of the opening of the Hsuehshan Tunnel, which shortened the drive from Taipei to Yilan from 1.5 hours to 40 minutes. After the Central Cross-Island Highway was severely damaged by the 921 earthquake, the time required to drive to Lishan Mountain increased two-to-three-fold and the number of tourists decreased substantially. Comprehensive public facilities and recreational spaces as well as comfortable recreational environments increase tourist satisfaction and revisit intention. For example, leisure and recreational sites that offer public toilets, reception desks, and other public facilities can reduce tourists’ inconvenience and heighten their satisfaction, thus promoting their revisit intention. Moreover, whether the shopping mechanisms are comprehensive and whether the products are affordable also influence tourist revisit intention. For example, most manufacturers establish customer service hotlines as a means of reducing customer dissatisfaction with manufacturers and elevating the probability of customer repurchase.

Thus, the locations for holding festival events should be carefully selected, transportation convenience must be ensured, and free shuttle buses should be offered at certain places, thereby enabling tourists to conveniently travel to and from the events. Public facilities such as portable toilets and medical centers should also be offered. Product return and refund mechanisms, customer service hotlines, and online shopping platforms should be provided for the products sold at the festival events. Festival events should focus on all of these details because they are the key to elevating tourism attractiveness and tourist willingness to revisit highly competitive festival events.