Is Intention to Return a Valid Proxy for Actual Repeat Visitation?

Robert Douglas McKercher, Sze Ming Tse

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Intention to return is often used as a surrogate measure for actual repeat propensity, especially in loyalty studies. A direct, predictive correlation is assumed to exist between intention and actual repeat visitation rates in accordance with the principles of the theory of planned behavior. However, the existence of such a relationship has rarely if ever been tested empirically in a tourism context, and as such, the validity of this assumption is open to question. This article examines that relationship through an analysis of secondary data provided by a number of National Tourism Organizations. Two tests are conducted, one using longitudinal data from 30 markets that visited either Hong Kong or New Zealand, and a second one using cross-sectional data from 152 markets that visited 16 destinations. The study determined that no statistically significant correlation exists between intention and actual repeat visitation rates, primarily because intention is typically measured as a vague aspiration and not in a probabilistic manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-686
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • intention to return
  • loyalty
  • repeat visitation
  • satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Cite this