Zhihao (Patrick) Chen

Thesis title: The spatial behaviour and associated decision-making process of self-drive tourists in the context of Chinese market

Start year: 2019

Supervisor(s): Dr Jackie Clarke, Dr Kate Mingjie Ji

Research topic

COVID-19 has changed tourists’ perceptions of safety and health risks associated with travel, which has affected their travel behaviour, including attractions to visit, distance of travel, choice of travel companions and types of transport used. The latest reports forecast self-drive tourism will be a major trend in future tourism in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to its advantages in limiting social interactions with strangers and flexibility in designing personalised trips. However, the limited research on self-drive tourism is not comparable with the unprecedented growth of self-drive tourism.

The purpose of this study is to understand the self-drive tourists’ decision-making process and corresponding spatial behaviour. This research aims to achieve two objectives. The first objective is to examine the spatial behaviour of self-drive tourists. The second objective is to explore the decision-making processes that underpin the associated spatial behaviour. The research centres on the context of the Chinese self-drive domestic market prior to and post-the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Building on the findings, the study will propose a framework to provide a holistic process on forming the spatial behaviour of self-drive tourists. This framework can also apply to wider academic contexts that contribute to existing theory. The practical contribution of this study lies with the enhanced understanding of the self-drive domestic market aiding better decisions by travel organisers and tourism policymakers.

General research interests

Zhihao’s work draws on the geography and sociology in examining the contemporary hospitality industry. His research interest is related to tourists’ behaviour, including decision-making and spatial patterns.

Academic school / department

Oxford Brookes Business School