Main Article Content
In this fast-growing tourist economy, tourists are increasingly seeking greater variety than they have experienced in the past. Tourist experience has been a central theme in specific parts of tourism literature, little is known about significant components of tourist experience in the international context. The present study analyzed survey data from 603 international tourists arriving in Thailand to evaluate their tourist experience. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), an adapted scale of the tourist experience (i.e. cognitive, affective and behavioral experience) proved reliable and valid for measuring the international tourist destination loyalty. The objectives of this study were to investigate the causal relationships between tourist experience and tourist satisfaction on destination loyalty, and also to explore the mediating effects of cognitive and affective satisfaction on tourist experience and destination loyalty. The findings show that tourist experience has a significant effect on tourist satisfaction and destination loyalty. Furthermore, the mediating effect results also show that affective satisfaction partially mediated the relationship between tourist experience and destination loyalty. The findings contribute to tourism marketing and management within the industry. The results suggest that tourism business operators should focus on the sensorial elements of their products and services, since affective experience is a significant contributor to tourist loyalty and can generate positive outcomes. Although the findings suggest that cognitive satisfaction is not paramount for building tourist loyalty, this component should not be overlooked, as it is often expected by international tourists.
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