Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Uparqual: The Development of an Urban Park Satisfaction Measurement Scale

Academic journal article International Journal of Business and Society

Uparqual: The Development of an Urban Park Satisfaction Measurement Scale

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The tourism industry is experiencing rapid growth and Malaysia is, in turn, encouraging domestic tourists. Hence, providing quality leisure experiences to tourists is important, since it will lead to increased frequency of visits, as well as increased fulfilment from these visits. A quality leisure experience can be acquired by visiting many spots in a given destination, including urban parks. Urban parks can easily be found in almost every city in Malaysia as an avenue for outdoor recreational activities, socialising and relaxation. An urban park is designed specifically for local tourists from the urban population. Increasing the number of tourists to urban parks whilst retaining their interest should result in leisure experiences meeting the satisfaction of tourists. The purpose of this study is to develop a multi-dimensional measurement scale of service quality for tourist satisfaction in urban parks. The present study was conducted at an urban park located in Kuching, Sarawak. Primary data was collected using a non-probability convenience sampling technique, with 300 of the 400 distributed questionnaires returned and usable. Based on the findings of this study, a proposed new instrument, "UPARQUAL" was developed to gauge tourist satisfaction at urban parks. UPARQUAL, a six-dimensional instrument, was empirically tested and deemed appropriate for measuring the level of satisfaction that tourists experience in these urban parks. In addition, this study also recommends several measures to increase of tourist satisfaction.

Keywords: tourism, domestic tourists, urban parks, service quality, satisfaction measurement scale, Sarawak

1. INTRODUCTION

In the year 2008, the number of international tourists or visitor arrivals reached 924 million in year 2008, up 16 million from the previous year (UNWTO, 2009a), while in 2009 visitor arrivals are estimated to drop to 880 million (a 4% decrease) due to the impact of the global economic recession (UNWTO, 2010a). Tourism is one of the major industries in Malaysia, second only to the manufacturing sector. In Malaysia, tourist arrivals experienced a 5% growth from 20,973 visitors in 2007 to 22,052 visitors in 2008 (UNWTO, 2009b) but is expected to be stagnant in 2009 (UNWTO, 2010b). The fall of inbound tourism from other countries has led many countries in the Asia Pacific region to shift their focus onto domestic tourism (UNWTO, 2009b). Similarly, Malaysia aims to encourage local tourists to explore the beauty of the country's rainforests that are rich with unique flora and fauna (UNWTO, 2009b). Tourist destinations consist of several types of attractions to cater to various tourist interests, activities, and satisfaction (Jin, 2002). Tourism would almost certainly not exist without the presence of these attractions (Pigram, 1983), which in turn help to boost the market profile of such destinations (Mill & Morrison, 1985).

Choices for tourist destinations hinge on the environment and facilities provided in the visited country, encompassing both indoor and outdoor recreational activities. Having a variety of recreational activities are important because: (i) it facilitates social interaction between the tourist and the service provider (Gallarza & Gil Saura, 2006; Ross, 1995; Thomas & Butts, 1998); and (ii) it is one of the most influential factors when choosing a holiday destination (Nykiel, 1997). Basically, indoor recreation refers to activities conducted within the home, while outdoor recreation refers to activities that people usually engage in outside of the home or outdoors (Bell, Tyrvainen, Sievanen, Probstl, & Simpson, 2007). Outdoor recreational activities actually require the tourist to be involved in activities using certain location settings, i.e. lakes, sea, countryside or forest (Bell et al., 2007). Mowen, Kaczynsk & Cohen (2008) believes outdoor recreational activity improves physical and mental health, and the overall wellness of individuals. …

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