Lisa Tung Pei Pei & Nor Azila Mohd Noor
Tourist interactions are common in tourism settings and play an important role in the overall tourist experience. This experiential aspect of research, particularly relating to cultural heritage sites, is limited in tourism literature because most existing literature are in the context of cruise, tour groups and backpacking. Furthermore, those studies focused on the influence of tourist interactions on satisfaction and not so much on destination loyalty. Therefore, this study examines the influence of tourist interactions on satisfaction and destination loyalty at cultural heritage sites. The tourist interaction construct was operationalised as tourist-to-tourist interactions and tourist-to-local interactions while the destination loyalty construct was operationalised as attitudinal, behavioural and experiential loyalty. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 500 international tourists in Penang and Melaka, Malaysia and data were collected based on a two-stage cluster sampling approach. The data were analysed using Partial Least Square Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM). The results provided empirical support for the influence of tourist interactions on satisfaction and destination loyalty. Moreover, satisfaction was found to have a partial mediation on the tourist interaction and destination loyalty relationship. This study extends on the destination loyalty model by including tourist interactions as a predictor, thus providing managerial implications to destination managers and local councils to focus on activities that can enhance opportunities for tourist interactions.
Keywords: Tourist interactions, satisfaction, destination loyalty, cultural heritage sites