Tourist motivation

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Tourist motivation is seen by many writers as one of the key elements in understanding tourist decision-making behaviour. A sound understanding of travel motivation plays a critical role in predicting future travel pattern. The big answer to the basic question, "why do people travel?" has occupied the minds of tourist researchers for many years. Various methods have been employed to uncover travel motives. The following literature will shed light on various theories that can be used to have a knowledge why people travel to urban destination.

Tourist motivation can be defined "as the global integrating network of biological and cultural forces which gives value and direction to travel choices, behaviour and experience." (Pearce, Morrison & Rutledge, 1998). Put simply, motivation is a state of arousal of a drive or need which impels people to activity in pursuit of goals. Once the goals have been achieved the need subsides and the individual returns to the equilibrium-but only briefly because new motives arise as the last one is satisfied. As cited in Seaton (1997) motivation of the individual person to travel, to look outside for what he cannot find inside have been largely created by society and shaped by everyday life. Gray's (1979) travel-motivation theory, poses only two main motives for travel. One is the desire to go from a known to an unknown place, called in Gray's theory "wanderlust"'. The other motive is what Grays called "sunlust". This generates a trip to a place which can provide the traveler with specific facilities that do not exist in his or her own place of residence. Some of the motives which determine their travel choices are recreation, pleasure, new experiences, cultural interest, shopping.

According to the 'push' and 'pull' concept, Crompton (1979), push factors explains the desire for travel while the pull motives have been used to explain the actual destination choice.  Nine motivations of leisure travelers were identified and classified seven as socio-psychological or push motives and two as cultural or pull motives. The seven push motives were, escape from a perceived mundane environment, exploration and evaluation of self, relaxation, prestige, regression, enhancement of kinship relationships, and facilitation of social interaction. The pull motives were novelty and education.

Maslow (1943) identified two motivational types: tension-reducing motives; arousal-seeking motives. According to Maslow, there are five needs forming a hierarchy, progressing from the lower to the higher needs. At the bottom are the basic needs for food, water and air. Then, above them is the need for safety, security, and protection. Maslow argued that if the lower needs are fulfilled the individual would be motivated by needs of the next level of the hierarchy. Cooper et al (2005) criticises Maslow's theory saying that why and how Maslow selected the basic five needs remain unclear, although Page (2003) feels that it has relevance in understanding how human action is understandable and predictable compared to research which argues that human behaviour is essentially irrational and unpredictable. Though much criticism about Maslow's theory, the tourism industry has borrowed a lot from Maslow because he provides a convenient set of containers that can be relatively labeled and provide a useful framework for understanding psychological motivational factors in tourism. Thus, for example, although the apparent purpose of a trip may be for shopping, the underlying psychological motivation may be to impress their neighbours and gain higher social status. Iso-Ahola (1982) says that tourists will switch roles while on holiday, and that over time different needs will arise. Single motivation may not always act as the determining factor for travel. If within the holiday, the initial needs are satisfied, other motivations might emerge. Indeed, it is congruent with Maslow's theories of needs to argue that if initially there is a primary need for relaxation while on a holiday, the satisfaction of that need will create awareness of other needs such as exploration of place as a means of acquiring a sense of belonging or to enable processes of self-actualisation to take place.

Dann (1981) has identified seven elements of tourist motivations: travel as a response to what is lacking yet desired; destination pull in response to motivational push; motivation as fantasy(engage in behaviour and activities that are culturally unacceptable in their home environment like prostitution and gambling); motivation as classified purpose(VFRs); motivational typologies; motivation and tourist experiences; motivation as auto-definition and meaning (the way in which tourist define their situations and respond to them).[Page & Connell,2003].

P.Pearce (1988) as cited in Ryan (1997) lists five travel motivations which he calls travel career ladder' where tourists develop varying motivations of relaxation, stimulation, relationship, self-esteem and development, fulfillment. In Pearce's model, the motivations listed can be divided into two categories. The needs may be self-centered or directed at others. Thus, for example, relaxation may be a solo exercise where the holiday-maker seeks a quiet restful time alone or it can be relaxation in the company of others, springing from the need for external excitement and desire for novelty. Stimulation can be self-directed which springs from the concern for own safety, or it can be directed toward others arising out of the concern for other's safety. Relationship can be self-directed which means giving love and affection and maintaining relationships, or it can be directed at others which means receiving affection, to be with group membership. Self-esteem and development maybe self-directed like development of skills, special interests, competence and mastery, or it may be directed at others like prestige, glamour of travelling. Fulfilment is totally self-directed as it fulfils individual dreams, understands oneself more and experience inner peace and harmony. There are some criticisms against Pearce's travel motivations. For example, Pearce argues that stimulation may be understood along a dimension of risk and safety of self or others. However, it might be argued that there is a real and distinctive difference between these two motivations.

Cohen (1972) as cited in Shaw & Williams (2002), 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 distinguished tourist using sociological principles into organised mass tourist, individual mass tourists, explorer and drifter. They feel that it is not based on any empirical data. In addition, these groups were also differentiated along the lines of contact with the tourist industry, with mass tourists being termed "institutionalised" and the more individualistic tourist being regarded as non-institutionalised.

Smith (1977) provided a more detailed variant of Cohen's tourist typologies. Smith (1977) identifies 7 categories of tourist who have been termed as "interactional typologies": explorer, elite, off-beat, unusual, incipient mass, mass, and charter.

Shaw & Williams (2002) opines that Plog's typology is based on asking tourists about their real general "lifestyles" or value systems, often using perceptual information derived from interviews. Plog's (1987) typology can be used to examine tourist motivations as well as attitudes to particular destinations and modes of travel. In terms of the latter, a tourist typology developed for the American Express (1989) has categorised travellers as: adventurers, worriers, dreamers, economisers and indulgers- all of whom viewed their travel experiences in different ways.