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Heather J. Gibson

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Richard J. Buning and Heather Gibson

Using the event-travel-career concept, this study examined the trajectory of active-sport-event travel careers through stages of development and the corresponding factors and dimensions perceived to influence career progression in the sport of cycling. In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 amateur cyclists engaged in lifestyles geared toward active event travel. A grounded theory approach revealed that active event travel careers evolve through a complex progression of 9 core themes and related subthemes. The core themes included the first event, starting out, motivation, temporal, travel style, destination criteria, event types, spatial, and later in life. On the basis of these findings, a 6-stage active-sport-event travel career model is proposed consisting of initiation, introduction, expansion, peak threshold, maintenance, and maturity. From this model, theoretical contributions, suggestions for future research, and practical implications for sport tourism and event management are discussed.

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Richard J. Buning and Heather J. Gibson

Utilizing a social worlds perspective, the study examined active-sport-event travel career progression in the sport of cycling. Event travel careers are considered potentially lifelong patterns of travel to participate in events that evolve through stages with distinct behaviors and motivations. Quantitative methods were used to test tenets of an inductively derived model of the active-sport-event travel career for cyclists. An international sample of cyclists were surveyed online; N = 1,452 responded. Using general linear modeling, the results depicted an escalation in motivation related to intellectual, social, mastery competence, giving back, and competition against others with career progression. However, while travel behavior related to preferred events characteristics changed with career progression, preferred characteristics related to destinations and travel style remained relatively stagnant. Implications for destination and event management are discussed.

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Heather J. Gibson, Christine Xueqing Qi, and James J. Zhang

Although there is growing awareness of the relationship between hosting mega-sporting-events and destination image, there is little empirical evidence documenting what images people hold before an event. The purpose of this study was to investigate the images young Americans hold of China both as a tourist destination and as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games. Specifically, the relationships among destination image, travel intentions, and tourist characteristics were explored. A total of 350 college students were surveyed before the close of the Athens Olympic Games. Overall, the respondents perceived China and the Beijing Olympic Games positively. Destination image was significantly (p < .05) predictive of the intention to travel to China and the Olympic Games. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that destination image partially mediated the relationship between past international travel experience and intention to travel. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed with a view to promoting China as a tourist destination and the host of the Olympic Games.