Tourism is the most economically important industry to the United States' only island state, Hawaii. With Hawaii's highest spending and largest international tourist segment, Japanese, decreasing significantly (a loss from over 2,000,000 in 1997 to just over 1,000,000 Japanese visitors in 2009), Hawaii needs to prepare to replace the significant decrease of Japanese visitors with a new visitor market. The logical new international visitor target market would be tourists from the fastest growing economy in the world, that being China. The purpose of this study is to explore the differences in attitudinal and behavioral characteristics, and preferences of Chinese tourists in Hawaii according to key sociodemographic variables. The results of this study conclude that sociodemographic variables show significant differences in attitudinal and behavioral characteristics. For example, when comparing the number of times a respondent had visited Hawaii, first-time visitors showed the highest level of preference for a deluxe hotel while second-time visitors showed the highest level of preference for a budget hotel. Those who had visited Hawaii three or more times indicated the highest preference for a first class hotel and also to be more interested in high-end shopping. First-time visitors showed the highest percentage in the lowest category of estimated cost of gifts (US$0-US$300). This indicates that Hawaii tour operators should focus on introducing more discounted shopping to first-time visitors. The results of this study are likely to be beneficial for understanding Chinese tourists and establishing marketing policies to enhance their satisfaction and raise their intention to revisit Hawaii. The findings of this study could be helpful for all stakeholders including local tour operators, the hotels, and Hawaii's tourism officials.
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