Tourist Typologies and Travel Motivations

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It could be argued that the verb “to travel” encompasses many connotations as people around the world, from different backgrounds, socio-cultural, linguistic and professional, choose to travel to a particular destination for different reasons, influenced by a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Throughout the years, many researchers in the field have sought a more academic answer to the question “Why do people travel?”

It is the aim of the present paper to critically examine different authors’ views on travel motivations and tourist typology models and discuss their practical applicability to the type of destination choice. The first part of the discussion focusing on leisure travel motivations will be based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Dann’s perspective on the factors that propel an individual’s desire to travel (push factors) and factors influencing the type of destination selected (pull factors), as well as Urry’s tourist gaze, and the latter half, in which tourist typologies will be analysed, will look at Cohen’s tourist categories, continuing with an analysis of Plog’s psychographic travel model followed by a brief examination of Gibson and Yiannakis’ investigation of the relationship between tourist role preferences and adult life-course.

Why the need to study tourist motivation? Prior to looking at the way in which tourist motivation has been approached by various researchers, Sharpley (1994 p.97) suggests it is essential to understand “the role of motivation within the overall consumer making process”. The study of motivation as a subject represents, according to Page and Connell (2006 p.63), an “integral part of the study of consumer behaviour in tourism.’’ The same two authors argue that a deep understanding of the decision-making process and what motivates tourists to travel is essential for both planning and economic considerations. Destinations require strategic planning and management in order to meet the changing needs of tourists, as well as identification and effective control of negative impacts, which could involve diversion of tourists and activities to less vulnerable areas. Furthermore, understanding consumer behaviour patterns which “may dictate an individual’s propensity to experience new places and activities, or to search for holiday information pre-booking” as outlined by Page&Connell (2006 p.65) highly contribute to the economic growth and development of an area.

Motivation plays a significant role in setting people’s goals, and together with other variables such as personality, attitude, expectations, stereotyping and perceptions will reflect in one’s travel choice and behaviour once in the destination. (Jafari,2003 pp519-20) When talking about human motivation we can distinguish between two types (Page 2007a, pp.70-1): intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Tourists, as outlined by Page, are all unique in that they have different personal needs that stimulate them to pursue tourism activities. Tourism has an educational component, bringing people in contact with one another, thus providing cultural exchange between travelers and their hosts and fostering cultural understanding. As a result of this, some people, when travelling, seek to satisfy certain internal needs such as self-improvement or personal self-fulfillment by consuming meaningful and authentic cultural experiences, with a view to achieve a certain state of happiness. Contrastively, extrinsic motivation involves outside forces that shape people’s attitudes and travel preferences. These forces could include, according to Page (2007a p.71), the socio-cultural environment an individual lives in, or others like prosperity levels, rewards or incentives that constitute positive reinforcements. Hereinafter, the focus of this essay will be on the intrinsic motivation approach as illustrated by researchers and how their theories may be linked to practice.

Thus far, Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (1943) has been...
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