Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management


International Hospitality and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Xiang Li


The purpose of this study is to explore the motivations and constraints of Chinese outbound pleasure tourists traveling to the United States, using Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (1943; 1970) and the Leisure Constraints Model developed by Crawford, Jackson, and Godbey (1991) as the analytical frameworks.

A total of 1,600 respondents were recruited by convenience sampling in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. The respondents were segmented into 4 groups based on their travel experience; each group consisted of 400 respondents. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in Chinese between July and August of 2008, and then, the open-ended responses were translated into English. The responses were then content analyzed using CATPAC software.

The findings suggested that Chinese outbound pleasure travelers were mainly motivated to travel to the Unites States by physiological and biological needs, belongingness and love needs, cognitive needs, and aesthetic needs. In order to satisfy these needs, Chinese outbound pleasure travelers travel to visit friends and relatives, have fun and relax at destinations and attractions, experience different things, expand horizons, and experience beauty. Most of the motivations found in this study were consistent with previous studies. The comparison of motivations among different demographic groups and sample groups showed that the ways people from different groups try to fulfill their needs differed.

Lack of interest and age were found to be the major intrapersonal constraints of Chinese outbound tourists. Time constraints, difficulties in getting travel visas, long distances, security, and monetary concerns (including the consumption level at the destination and disposable income) were structural constraints that deterred Chinese outbound travelers from visiting the U.S. Most of the constraints found in this study were consistent with previous studies, except that interpersonal constraints were only emphasized by some of the respondents.

In this study, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs provided a useful classification scheme for the analysis of travel motivations of Chinese tourists. The results suggest that motivations may interact with constraints. The Leisure Constraint Model seemed to be well-suited for analysis on Chinese tourists as well. However, several constraints found in this study indicated that culture could affect constraints. Thus, cross-cultural studies on constraints are recommended for future study. The findings suggest that wealthy Chinese should be targeted for marketing. Different promotional strategies can be applied to different market segments, based on demographics and travel experience.


© 2009, Chengting Lai