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The New Natural Disaster Empathy Scale Suggests California Wine Industry Should Target Deliberate Tourists


A recent research study explores the tourism implications of natural disasters contextualized in the case of the 2017 California wildfires by examining the perceptions of wine tourists. It introduces a 4-point Natural Disaster Empathy Scale (NDES) which reveals that tourists’ emotion is a profoundly useful measurement integral to more in-depth understanding of the concept of destination image, which has traditionally focused on examining tourists’ attitudes, intentions, and behaviors.

Previous research (Williams, 2018) indicates tourists either engage in wine tourism as a deliberate focus of their trip, or as an aside to their overarching trip intentions, giving intention a unique importance. Analysis demonstrated deliberate tourists scored significantly higher on the Natural Disaster Empathy Scale, and should be uniquely targeted by marketers and destinations, especially immediately after a natural disaster such as a fire, because they express high interest in supporting wineries.

A quote from the study “My next few visits are specifically to support this beautiful industry” reflects two of the four Natural Disaster Empathy Scale elements. It reinforces the belief that marketers in the wine and tourism industries should utilize common psychographic wine segmentation variables such as visitation intention or subjective knowledge to target tourists, and not demographic variables like age, gender, marital status, or level of education.

The paper titled “Developing a Measure for Assessing Tourist’s Empathy towards Natural Disasters in the Context of Wine Tourism and the 2017 California Wildfires”, to be published in a forthcoming issue of Current Issues in Tourism, was authored by Matthew J. Bauman, Jingxue (Jessica) Yuan, and Helena A. Williams.

For more information, including qualitative themes and quantitative statistical analysis, contact Matthew J. Bauman, ABD at [email protected] or Dr. Jingxue (Jessica) Yuan, [email protected] both from the Department of Hospitality and Retail Management, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. For information on wine and beverage tourism contact [email protected] For information regarding deliberate and incidental tourists and wine tourism, contact Dr. Helena A. Williams, GastroGatherings.com, at [email protected]

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