Customer Engagement with VR-enabled Tourism Activities at Cultural Heritage Sites


  • Ahmet Hacikara University of Central Florida
  • Tingting (Christina) Zhang University of Central Florida
  • Jeff Weinland University of Central Florida



Customer Engagement, Virtual Reality, Virtual Tourism, Alternative Attractiveness, Cultural Heritage Sites, Pro-cultural Orientation


Despite the tremendous amount of academic interest in virtual reality (VR), the existing conceptual models that presented VR attributes as antecedents of users’ acceptance and attitudes, failed to examine the power of VR technologies in promoting the alternative attractiveness of virtual tourism compared to traditional onsite visitation. This is of great significance to the solution of over-tourism issues frequently seen in the today’s tourism destinations, especially world-famous cultural heritage sites. Therefore, the present study fills the literature gap and empirically validates a conceptual framework that shows how visitors’ engagement with VR-enabled tourism activities could lead to an enhanced alternative attractiveness of virtual tourism, and their pro-cultural behaviors. A total of 571 valid responses from US visitors that have adopted VR-enabled tourism activities were collected to confirm the role of four VR attributes, i.e., immersion, vividness, presence, and enjoyment, in motivating users’ engagement behaviors with VR tourism activities. The study findings also testified that visitors who engaged with VR tourism activities are likely to adopt pro-cultural behaviors in the future and assessed the alternative attractiveness of VR tourism against the traditional onsite visitation. The findings will provide valuable implications for policymakers who aspire to preserve the cultural heritage sites while promoting cultural heritage destinations through advanced VR technologies.

Author Biographies

Tingting (Christina) Zhang, University of Central Florida

Dr. Zhang’s primary research goals are directed toward understanding customer engagement in the hospitality and tourism industries with a special focus on technology usage and adoption (such as virtual reality, social media, mobile apps, and online communities, etc.). Dr. Zhang’s research dissertation explores the service innovation strategies that engage Generation Y consumers, an emerging and powerful cohort in the market, to co-create through mobile technologies. Her research articles are published in service management and mainstream hospitality administration journals. Additionally, Dr. Zhang has been serving as a reviewer for several refereed journals, such as International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Journal of Service Management, and Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Dr. Zhang serves on editorial advisory board for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Business-Economics Advancement (IIBA Journal). Dr. Zhang has also been serving as a reviewer for referred international conferences, such as 2017 Graduate Conference Hospitality and Tourism.

Dr. Zhang joined the Rosen College of Hospitality Management as an Assistant Professor in August 2016. In her current position, she teaches face-to-face course of Hospitality Information Systems and mixed mode course of Event Technology.

Dr. Zhang received her Ph.D. degree and Master’s degree in Hospitality Management from the Ohio State University. She received her Master’s degree in Translation and Interpretation from Beijing Foreign Studies University, China. She also received her Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing with emphasis on Hospitality and Tourism Management from Beijing International Studies University, China.

Before joining UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Dr. Zhang held multiple teaching positions, including teaching assistant, instructor, and mentor. She has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in hospitality and tourism management and marketing. In addition to that, Dr. Zhang advised honors undergraduate student for honors thesis that received $10000 grant support from Pelotonia Fellowship Program. Dr. Zhang also held an instructor position at Beijing International Studies University (BISU). During her teaching at BISU, she joined faculty trainee program offered by Marriott Group. This allowed her to work in multiple function departments including Front Desk, Food & Beverage, Executive Lounge, and Sales & Marketing. This unique work experience gave her a deeper understanding of hotel management across various departments and thus enhanced her ability to teach on these topics.

Jeff Weinland, University of Central Florida

Dr. Jeffrey Weinland began teaching at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in 2005. He joined the faculty after serving for many years in the role of adjunct lecturer.

Dr. Weinland’s career in the hospitality industry spanned more than 30 years, during which time he operated businesses, provided consulting services, developed training programs, and investigated possible embezzlement and fraud cases. He holds several professional licenses and has earned numerous professional designations in the areas of lodging management, real estate brokerage, and hospitality accounting.



2022-05-11 — Updated on 2022-05-13