Middle East Tourists' Behaviour Towards Malaysian Gastronomy and Dining Experience in Malaysia

Middle East Tourists' Behaviour Towards Malaysian Gastronomy and Dining Experience in Malaysia

Quee-Ling Leong (Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management,, UCSI University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Shahrim Ab Karim (Department of Food Service Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia), Bee-Lia Chua (Department of Food Service Management, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia) and Kallayanee Tengpongsathon (Faculty of Agro-Industry, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), Ladkrabang, Thailand)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTHMDA.2017070106
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Abstract

The global Muslim tourists' expenditure on gastronomy products is on the rise. However, to date few studies were conducted to empirically determine the behaviour of the Muslim tourists' especially from the Middle East countries towards Malaysian gastronomy. Therefore, the key purpose of the present study was to empirically determine the Middle East tourists' behaviour towards their dining experience in Malaysia by employing the basis of means-end model approach. The proposed conceptual model of this study was tested using structural equation modelling analysis. The findings revealed that gastronomy attributes, dining quality and overall satisfaction of dining experience were significant positive predictors of the Middle East tourists' behavioural intention. Theoretical and managerial implications are discussed and this paper ends with some suggestions for future research.
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Introduction

Tourism is a vital sector that promotes growth to a country’s economic well-being. The inbound and outbound movements of tourists enhance the earnings of a country through foreign exchange and tourism exports. According to Pew Research, (2015) the global population in year 2010 was 6.9 billion and the Muslim population worldwide has accounted for 23% (1.6 billion) of the total. The Muslims are projected to reach 2.8 billion by year 2050 which is a growth of approximately 75% from year 2010 (Pew Research, 2015). The growth of the Muslim community is seen as an opportunity to many tourism industry players as a new and emerging tourist market to be tapped. In year 2013, the Muslim tourist market was said to have spent about US$140 billion in the tourism and hospitality industry world widely (Henderson, 2014). By year 2020, the annual expenditure by the Muslim market is projected to be worth US$192 billion (Kasak, 2014). The demography of the Muslim tourist market is relatively young and affluent (Henderson, 2014). In view of the infinite prospective of the huge and prosperous Muslim tourist market, many countries, either Muslim or non-Muslim are competing to grab a big slice of this market share.

Since the September 11 tragedy, the Middle East tourists travelled more to the East instead of the West due to stricter inbound regulations enforced on the Muslim tourists by the Western countries (Hamzah, 2004; Samori, Md Salleh & Khalid, 2016). Being a country with Islam as the official religion, Malaysia has got the advantage in attracting the Middle East tourists. In the span of the past ten years, the tourism industry of Malaysia had witnessed a massive growth of tourist arrivals from the Middle East countries. The number of the Middle East tourists had expanded greatly by 148% from 89.96 thousand in year 2005 to 223.18 thousand in 2014 (Tourism Malaysia, 2016). In a recent report by the MasterCard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index, Malaysia was nominated as World’s Top Muslim-Friendly Destination, outperformed 99 other destinations around the world (Tourism Malaysia, 2015). This is a very significant recognition that indicated an excellent scorecard for the effort of Tourism Malaysia in promoting the country within the Muslim travel market.

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