Visual attention and perceived crowding in tourism destinations under the impact of COVID-19: An eye-tracking study

Authors: Xiaoxi Ju*, Auckland University of Technology, Mengqing Wang, Arizona State University, Zongrui Liu, Arizona State University, Xiao Xiao, Arizona State University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Natural Resources
Keywords: COVID-19, eye-tracking, visual attention, normative theory
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 5
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed tourism dramatically. Meanwhile, the pandemic has brought great challenges for recreation management for crowding and visitor use. The normative theory is often used in crowding and carrying capacity studies in tourism destinations, but very little is known about the normative approach of crowding in the non-western context. Considering visitors’ experiences and behaviors on tourism destination selection under the impact of COVID-19, this study will apply the eye-tracking technique into tourism study to understand visual attentions and perceived crowding in China. This study will recruit 50 Chinese participants to wear an eye-tracking device to look at 6 groups of simulated photographs representing indoor, outdoor and natural-based tourism respectively. Thee visual attention patterns will be analyzed through widely used indicators for eye movement and heatmaps will be created to describe the spatial configurations of visual attention. This research aims to understand the patterns of different levels of visitor use in different types of tourism destinations, explore impacts of COVID-related prevention strategies, build better understanding of the normative theory of crowding and uncover the relationship between perceived crowding and stress for different levels of visitor use. This study will guide the local government to better manage visitation demands of different types of tourism destinations, provide management strategies for tourism destinations to recovery in the post COVID-19 period and help achieve sustainable development goals for tourism destinations.

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