To return or not to return? Identifying VFR travel constraints during the pandemic

Pearl M.C. Lin, Kang Lin Peng, Wai Ching Au

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the prominence of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travel to show strong resilience in the face of global crises, it has been one of the most underexplored tourism contexts in the literature. This study examined travel constraints of VFR travelers during the pandemic to enrich this tourism context. Using an inductive theory approach, thematic analysis of 167 online posts and 8,403 online comments from prospective Taiwanese VFR travelers living elsewhere unveiled a framework of VFR travel constraints that included six types of travel constraints for VFR tourists who have made travel-related decisions amid COVID-19. Specifically, fourteen travel constraints were identified and situated within a three (individual - family - community) (Formula presented.) two (tourist generating country - tourist receiving country) framework to understand their causes and natures. Theoretically, this study served as a pioneering attempt to link the concept of travel constraints with VFR tourism and enriched our understanding of VFR travelers’ related decision making. Practically, destination management organizations and tourism businesses should find the study findings insightful because they demonstrate ways of promoting VFR travel to foster tourism rejuvenation in the post-pandemic. Limitations and future research directions were discussed at the end of this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Travel and Tourism Marketing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • COVID-19
  • decision making
  • migration
  • travel constraints
  • VFR travel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Marketing


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