Leong Quee-Ling, Muhammad Shahrim Ab. Karim, Khairil Wahidin Awang & Ainul Zakiah Abu Bakar
Gastronomy is a prominent tourism product in Malaysia that is becoming an attraction to international tourists. Within the tourism industry in Malaysia, gastronomy products are an indisputable revenue generator for the country since tourists eat out all the time when vacationing. Dining is among the top three expenses of international tourists in Malaysia after accommodation and shopping. This seems to suggest that gastronomy can be potentially marketed as one of the central focus of Malaysia’s tourism. Many researchers have attempted to explore the importance of gastronomy on tourist’s behavior in destinations. However, there is a dearth of research regarding intensity of gastronomy affection among international tourists in Malaysia. The present study is an exploratory attempt to capture the underlying characteristics of the international tourist according to their degree of personal gastronomy affection. The purpose of this study is threefold. First, this study seeks to segment international tourists based on their intensity for gastronomy affection towards Malaysian food which was measured using three concepts (gastronomy involvement, gastronomy knowledge and prior gastronomy experience). Second, this study explores the demographics and travel characteristics of each tourist segment. Third, this study examines whether there are any differences in the level of gastronomy affection between Malacca and George Town’s international tourists. The findings are especially important to destination marketers and food service operators to gain a better understanding of the nature of potential customers within the gastronomic tourism context in these World Heritage Sites of Malaysia.
Keywords: Gastronomic tourism, George Town, Malaysian gastronomy, Malacca, typology of gastronomy tourists, World Heritage Site