This study attempts to assess the relationship between risk perception, risk knowledge, and travel intentions of Chinese leisure travelers during the COVID-19 pandemic in the framework of social contagion and risk communication theories by analyzing a sample of 1,209 travelers through structural equation modeling (SEM) and path analysis. We used the process macro of Hayes to analyze the moderation effects of age, gender, and education between risk perception, media and interpersonal communication, and risk knowledge. It was found that travelers were more concerned about self-efficacy than severity. Risk perception of travelers predicts the information-seeking process of tourists. This process helps travelers to accumulate risk information that influences their travel intentions. Travelers give more importance to interpersonal (contagion) communication in making a traveling decision. Demographic factors influence traveling decision-making; women travelers were found to be more risk resilient than men. Young travelers seek information at low- and old travelers at high-risk levels. Marketing implications also provided.
Keywords: COVID-19; demographic influence; interpersonal and media communication; risk knowledge; risk perception; travel intention.
Copyright © 2021 Meng, Khan, Bibi, Wu, Lee and Chen.