The Typologies Of Tourist Behaviour Tourism Essay

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When predicting future travel patterns, it is critical to first have basic knowledge of a persons travel motivation and what is motivating them to pursue travelling to destinations that they have selected. As Pearce, Morrison & Rutledge (1998) have defined tourist motivation as "the global integrating network of biological and cultural forces which gives value and direction to travel choices, behaviour and experience".

Each tourist is driven by different motives that determine their travel choices. These choices can be for new experiencing, culture fascination, recreation, pleasure and relaxing and shopping. Although what motivates people to travel may differ, but there is always recurrent themes emerging. For instance, a person may choose to travel and escape from their usual place of living and decides on taking up a holiday for different surroundings and relaxation, to explore new things, places and people.

Many have viewed motivation as a major determinant of the tourist's behaviour. Theories of motivation is the concept of needs and they are seen as the forces that arouses motivated behaviour and to best understand what motivates people, it is useful to discover the needs they have and how these needs can be fulfilled. Maslow's hierarchy of needs theory is the best known motivation theories. The push and pull concept is another line of travel motivation, while Plog's allocentrism/psychocentrism model will help explain phenomenal rise and fall of travel destinations.


Cohen (1972) in his early studies, draws attention to the fact that all tourists are seeking some element of novelty and strangeness while, at the same time, most also need to retain something familiar. How tourists combine the demands for novelty with familiarity can in turn be used to derive a typology. According to Johns & Gyimothy (2002) Cohen distinguished tourist using sociological principles into organised mass tourist, individual mass tourists, explorer and drifter.

In this essay, we shall discuss different author's approach for travel motivation and typologies of tourist's behaviour and shall critically review and compare these theories and typologies.







Travel Motivation

Travel motivation includes two factors, the push motives factor which describes the need for exploring, relaxing, and interacting socially in the vacation decision. While pull motives is the attraction caused by the destination to the person, these factors include sight seeing, and historical attractions and sites. Push factors are known to form a desire for travelling, and pull factors are known to explicate the choice of destination. Crompton (1979). Push factors can also suggest avoidance of work and pressures at home caused culturally or socially. And pull factors suggest simply seeking adventure, freedom, escape, leisure and play. Seaton (1997)


Maslow's theory involves five needs forming a hierarchy, in a pyramid shape from lower to higher needs. Maslow explained how when the lower needs Physiological needs (basic life needs- air, water, food, shelter, warmth, sleep, sex), Safety needs (protection, security, low, limits, stability, order), Belonging and love (family, affection, relationships, work groups) are achieved the person would be motivated by the needs of the next two levels Esteem needs (achievement, status, responsibility, reputation), Self-actualization needs (personal growth and fulfilment).

Although Maslow's theory has been criticized as the basic five needs remain ambiguous, while some feel that it has provided relevance in how human actions are understandable and predictable.

The tourism industry has borrowed a lot from Maslow because he provides a convenient set of containers that can be relatively labelled. Maslow's hierarchy of needs has also produced a useful tool for understanding psychological motivational factors in tourism. For instance, a person may choose to travel to visit friends and family, but the underlying psychological motivation may be brought by the need for belonging and desire to reunite family links.

Iso-Ahola (1982) stated that when tourists are on holidays their roles over time may be switched and different needs will emerge. Sometimes a single motivation may not always be the main factor for travel, if while on holiday and the initial needs are satisfied, other motivations might rise. It is congruent with Maslow's theories of needs to argue that if there is a primary need for relaxation while on holiday, the satisfaction of relaxing will create a new need such as exploring the place to enable processes of self-actualization to take place.

The four motivational needs Beard and Ragheb (1983) stated are derived from the work of Maslow (1970). These components help in assessing the extent to which individuals are motivated to participate in and are involved in activities such as learning, discovering, exploring and imagining; the social component helps in assessing the level where individuals are participating in leisure activities for social reasons. Friendship and interpersonal relationships is one of the basic needs, while the second need is the esteem of others. While the competence-mastery component assesses the level of which individuals engage in leisure activities in order to accomplish, master, challenge and compete. These activities are usually physical in nature; it is escaping and getting away from overbearing life situations. It drives individuals to seek solitude, unwind, rest and search for calm conditions to avoid social contacts.

Sefton and Burton (1987) has replicated these four motivations to form the foundation of their Leisure Motivation Scale. However the original Ragheb and Beard Scale, contained items such as to use and develop physical skills and abilities. This attitude is associated with competition and staying fit, others have demonstrated that competency and mastery can be established in ways such as intellectual pursuits. Other researchers have also identified four groups of motivations, which are linked to Maslow's ideas. These ideas include physical motivators such as health and less tension; cultural motivators such as religion, art and heritage; interpersonal motivators such as visiting family and friends; status motivators such as self esteem and personal development.

Hudman and Hawkins (1989) made a list of ten main motivators that motivated tourists. These ten motivators are anywhere from physical activities to physical inactivities. They are curiosity, sports, health, natural resources, man made facilities, visiting friends and relatives, business, religion, self esteem and physical inactivity such as simply sunbathing and relaxing.

Similarly to the above, six combinations of motivations were grouped and the six combinations included; educational and cultural which be the interest of historic sites, relaxation, adventure and pleasure, health and recreation, ethnicity and family. This leads to the been-there-done that factor to a tourist.

The Iso-Ahola's theory indicates that what motivates tourism is the assertion of personal escape whereby overcoming bad mood and changing the pace of your everyday life, personal seeking whereby boasting about your experience to others to feel good about yourself, interpersonal escape is whereby you escape the stressful environment you are in and avoid interactions with others, and interpersonal seeking is being with individuals with similar interest and to meet new people. Snepenger et al (2006)

Another seven elements of tourist motivations were identified by Dann (1981) and his motivation elements included; travelling as a response to what is desired, destination pull in response to a motivational push, motivation as a fantasy whereby engaging in activities that are deemed unacceptable in their culture and home environment, motivation as a classified purpose such as visiting family and relatives, motivational typologies, motivation and tourist experience, and motivation as an auto-definition and meaning such as the way in which a tourist will explain their situations and respond to them.

The Travel Career Ladder is another travel motivation and it consists of five elements developed by P.Pearce (1988) these five travel motivation elements vary from motivations of relaxation, stimulation, relationship, self-esteem, to development and fulfilment. A tourist motivation is an ever changing process and moving up the ladder while progressing through the various life-cycle changes. The model Pearce developed showed that motivations are divided into two categories. The need may be self-centred for instance relaxation may be done solo and the holiday maker seeks a quiet restful time alone, or the need is directed at others for instance it can be relaxation with other individuals and springing from the need for external excitement and desire for novelty.

More examples of self-centred needs and needs directed at others are; self directed needs springs from the concern for own safety, relationship can be self-directed which means giving love and affection and maintaining relationships, self-esteem and development maybe self-directed like development of skills, special interests, competence and mastery, fulfilment is another example of self-directed needs, as if fulfils and understands oneself more and experience peace. While needs directed at others can be directed toward others arising out of the concern for other's safety, or it can be directed at others by means of receiving affection and to be with group membership and it may be directed at others like prestige, and glamour of travelling.

Seaton (1997) criticized Pearce's travel motivations. For instance, as Pearce argued that stimulation may be understood alone a dimension of risk and safety of oneself or of others, it may be argued that there is a distinctive difference between these two motivations. A concern about the safety of others might mean placing yourself at risk to help others from danger. The willingness to do this relies on the certainty of a person's psychological maturity.

It has been suggested by Pearce & Lee (2005) that in the Travel Career Ladder framework, the term career indicates that many individuals orderly move through a series of stage or their travel motivational patterns are predictable. As some may influentially say to the Travel Career Ladder, others may remain at a particular level, mostly depending on opportunities and other limitations such as health and financial situations.

Typologies of Tourist Behaviour

Cohen (1972), in his early studies, draws attention to the fact that all tourists are seeking some element of novelty and strangeness while, at the same time, most also need to retain something familiar. How tourists combine the demands for novelty with familiarity can in turn be used to derive a typology. Cohen (1972) the sociologist, identified four types of tourists:

The organizational Mass tourist who buys tourists packages or all inclusive tours in order to visit classical mass tourism destinations, where everything is predetermined before hand and has a low degree of participation and involvement in the travel search for information. There is no sense of adventure or exploration. He/she belongs to an institutionalized type of tourism where the contact with the organizers of tourism industry is a constant.

The individual mass tourist is similar to the organizational mass tourist, however this one is flexibility on his/her decisions and want to participate more in the process. The tourist strongly depends on the tourism industry but want to try some new things out of the closed and predetermined packages.

The explorer is more adventurous, he wants to find his/her own experience participating actively in this decision choice. He arrange most of the elements of the travel by himself/herself, however sometimes he/she has to turn to a travel agency or tourism professionals to get some comfort or security amenities.

The drifter looks for intensive experiences and he want to feel immerse in local communities. He/she completely abandon his relations with the institutions of tourism systems planning everything by him. He practiced a non institutionalized type of tourism.

With this classification of tourists Cohen established an interesting link between the need of living unique experiences and the need of the perception of security. The more secure a tourist wants to feel, the more he will trust on tourism specialist and thus he will live less unique experiences (more standardized). Stanley Plog (1974 cited Plog 1991) developed a similar psychobiological model designed to explain what type of people prefer what type of destination according to its psychographics characteristics. To the author, tourist population could be divided into a continuum of personalities distributed along the Gauss curve; from psychometrics, individual travellers whom look for the unexplored, in one extreme to allocentrics, mass tourism tourists, in the other.

After Cohen and Plog, researchers such us Dalen (1989), Smith (1989) or Urry (2002) for instances; they have attempted to create new categories of tourists based on their subject of research. It has to be pointed out that all the models proposed until now they are just descriptive and not relevant to the general tourism demand. They are just focused in one area of study and not in the bigger dimension where the tourist is immerse.

In addition, they also fail in the same thing: they do not take into account the factors which determine the different types of tourists (Sharpley, 1999). These factors might be grouped into demographic and socioeconomic factors such us age, life cycle, gender and income; and structural social factors such as the existence of non tourists and capitalist tourism (Sharpley, 1999).Therefore, every person goes trough different stages in life, and depending on the age, familiar circumstances or income tourist will change from one typology to another. Moreover, in these classifications it is not always the tourist who can decide what tourist is going to be, but it is the society who is going to classify you (Swarbrooke and Horner, 2007)


To better plan and market tourist destinations, a better understanding of motivation is crucial. Travel motivation theories can help us understand what motivation is, and what elements must be considered to understand it, and then interpret the different findings to understand the motivation of a certain type of tourist. What motivates a person to travel may vary from one seeking adventure to one visiting a family to feel a sense of belonging or whether they are affected by the Push motive or the Pull motive. Therefore it is difficult to differentiate the different individual motives of travel and people often may not constitute to the real reason of travel. However, understanding travel motivation and typologies of tourist has enabled and explained why certain tourism destinations are more developed and successful than others. All the theories explained above are used as tool to gain knowledge about what is driving tourists to travel and why are they choosing the places they are travelling too. Travel motivations fundamental in tourism and is important for development. The motivation that indicates a tourist's behaviour can show how people set their goals on the destination of their choice and it will reveal how these goals reflect their choice and their travel behaviour. Last but not least, after undertaking this research, understanding the motivations and the typologies of a tourist is the key success to the tourism industry.