The performance of business entities in times of a crisis is significantly impacted by a wide range of external factors, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic is triggered by the risk burdens laid on consumers, whose readiness to use recreational services, including rural tourism, was diminished.
The literature review conducted by the authors of the article identifies that the various types of risks, such as performance, psychological, physical, and social risks, are thought to be influential factors for consumers’ decision-making when choosing tourism services. In addition, cost risks related to finances and time also have a distinctive influence on tourism.
The theory of knowledge-attitude-behaviour relation is used to identify the interdependence between the knowledge of risks, their perception, and ultimate behavioural responses to those risks in terms of risk aversion. The dependence between knowledge of risk and its perception is manifested via the level of familiarity with a particular situation, as well as the perceived possibility of its happening. Thus, more experienced travellers are expected to perceive fewer risks; however, risk knowledge has a negative impact on risk perception.
On the basis of the identified patterns from the literature review and the theory, several hypotheses were introduced. The multiple hypotheses were formulated on the basis of the negative effect of tourism risk and pneumonia risk on risk perception or risk aversion. Overall, risk aversion as the behavioural part of the theoretical framework is dependent on the knowledge and attitude toward risks induced by COVID-19 and defines whether consumers are willing to engage in tourism.
On a general scale, the risk associated with health losses is much higher than the benefits from tourism, as perceived by consumers. Therefore, the performance of companies operating in the tourism sector during COVID-19 is highly dependent on the public’s perception of health risks.