The implicit effect of distance on tourist behavior: A comparison of short and long haul pleasure tourists to Hong Kong

Robert Douglas McKercher

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The impact of distance on demand is widely accepted in tourism geography, with a number of studies demonstrating that absolute volumes of tourists decline exponentially with distance. This article extends the field of research by examining the effect of distance on the profile of pleasure tourists who visit a destination, what they do, and different roles ascribed to the destination. Twenty-three markets attracted to Hong Kong, including 8 short haul and 15 long haul markets are analyzed. Substantial differences are found in the profile and resultant behavior of these two cohorts of visitors. The study concludes that the decline in tourist volumes over distance is a function of the virtual disappearance of certain segments rather than a general decline of demand across all segments. While distance may not be an explicit barrier to travel, it is an implicit barrier that represents the critical points where the combined effects of a number of other deterministic variables reach a stage beyond which the destination becomes unattractive to different segments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-381
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Travel and Tourism Marketing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


  • Behavior
  • Distance decay
  • Segments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Marketing

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