The current pandemic is accelerating the wide-spreading popularity of digital tourism. Given that technology innovation has broadened the horizon of tourist experiences to the realm of virtual environments, this study aims to (re)conceptualize travel experience and develop a theoretical framework to examine media technology effects on virtual travel experience, destination image, and tourists’ well-being. As a conceptual work, this study adopts technological perspectives on online travel media to decompose technology attributes and articulate distinctive effects of technology-centric variables. The proposed framework illustrates five propositions that specify and explain the relationships among technology-centric variables (modality, agency, interactivity, and navigability), three groups of moderators (user-centric, content-centric, and situation-centric variables), virtual travel experience, destination image, and psychological wellbeing. By adopting the variable-centered approach to decompose online travel media, this study provides a new theoretical lens to understand the psychological mechanism of media technology effects in digital tourism. The framework will serve as useful methodological guidelines to conduct experiments to investigate the distinctive effect of a particular affordance or a specific technical feature. The potential benefits of digital tourism to enhance tourists’ wellbeing are discussed by highlighting the environmentally friendly and inclusive aspects.
|International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
|Published - 1 May 2022
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- digital tourism
- tourism destination image
- virtual travel experience