Segmenting Visitors to Battlefield Sites: International Visitors to the Former DMZ in Vietnam
Vietnam is an emerging tourist destination with rapid development in the tourism industry over the last decade. Well-known for the Vietnam War, it is expected that battlefield sites are among the country's main attractions for international tourists. However, to date, there has been no research examining visitors to battlefield sites in Vietnam. This study aims to contribute to filling this perceived gap by examining the visitors to the former Vietnamese De-militarised Zone (DMZ). Its objectives are: (1) to identify tourist motivations for visiting the DMZ, (2) to segment the DMZ visitors based on motivations, and (3) to determine the importance of battlefield sites in tourists' decision to travel to Vietnam. International visitors to the Vinh Moc Tunnels, a site often included in the DMZ tour, were chosen as a study sample. Data in this study was collected in an intercept self-completed questionnaire survey, which resulted in a sample of 481 respondents. Statistical analysis of the data was supplemented by content analysis of qualitative findings where appropriate. The findings show that respondents visited the DMZ for a variety of motivations. Five motivations were generated from the factor analysis of 22 quantitative motivational items namely: Personal involvement, Interest in war related sites and exhibitions, Education and exploration, Location and convenience, and Novelty seeking. These delineated motivations were supported and extended by respondents' self-expressed motivations. Based on these motivations, three groups of visitors to the DMZ were identified using cluster analysis: the Battlefield Tourism Enthusiast, the Opportunist, and the Passive Tourist. These three visitors segments differed significantly in terms of socio-demographic characteristics, trip related characteristics, and especially travel decision-making. The Enthusiasts had the highest interest in visiting battlefield sites in Vietnam. The Opportunists tended to visit sites based on location and convenience, and the Passive Tourists indicated relatively low rankings for all reasons for visiting battlefield sites. This study also found that battlefield sites only played a small role in tourists' decision to visit Vietnam and that most tourists visited Vietnam for its culture, landscape and history. Several implications and recommendations arise from this study, including the need for continuing research on motivations for battlefield tourism in other countries. In addition, it is suggested that the educative function should be emphasised in developing battlefield sites as tourist attractions.