Niranjan Chatterjee’s Weblog

March 5, 2015

Behavioral Conceptualization of Tourism and Leisure

Filed under: Tourism industry — niranjanchatterjee @ 11:16 pm
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Review of article “Behavioral Conceptualization of Tourism and Leisure” by Kevin Moore, Grant Cushman and David Simmons (Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 22, No. I, pp. 67-85, 1995)

In this article the authors have tried to analyze relationships between tourism and leisure. While some previous researchers have categorized tourism as a special type of leisure time activity, others have hardly found any reason to typify tourism as a special type of leisure time activity. Rather, they have concluded tourism as a direct extension of leisure attributes of tourists.

However, not much research has been done to examine the interconnection between leisure attributes of tourists and their choice of tourist destinations. In fact, tourism studies and psychological examination of leisure attributes have been undertaken in near mutual isolation of each other. There are also continuing confusions about concepts of “perceived freedom” during leisure and just who could be defined as “tourists” or what is the exact definition of “tourism industry”. Thus, any composite theory that unifies and resolves queries about leisure and tourism is yet to be derived with any degree of certainty.

The authors of this article have hence refrained from attempting to derive any unifying theory and have tried to examine the behavioral aspects of tourists in choosing tourism destination while investigating the existence of any conceptual similarity between tourism and leisure. As a result, certain psychological similarities exhibited in leisure time activities and touring an attractive destination have been highlighted while underscoring the reasons why these two have been considered as separate fields of study by some researchers.

Though there are at least five different definitions of leisure the common thread that runs through these definitions is freedom to do what one wishes during leisure time. Thus, leisure is basically a state of mind than free time. Tourism, similarly, has been defined in quite a few ways. While one group of researchers emphasize the industrial aspect of tourism as in people engaged in providing goods and services to tourists the other group concentrates on behavioral aspects of tourists. There is a third group that focuses on the geographic content of tourist flow by identifying “generating area”, “transit routes” and “destination area”.

Just as has happened with definition of tourism, there have been three groups of thinkers that have divergent opinions on the subject of tourism. While the first group harps on the economic benefits of tourism in the destination country the second group cautions about the polluting impact of visiting tourists and the third group prefers to trudge the middle path by advocating a policy of adapting to the inflow of tourist in a manner that would be beneficial to the economy with least disturbance in ecological or social fabric of the destination country.

The authors have embarked upon behavioral analysis of tourists, especially the demand side phenomena. While travel facilitators operate on the same broad principles that other service providers in other forms of leisure operate, there is indeed a marked difference among travel motivators and motivators of other forms of leisure. The most important difference between motivations to travel as a form of leisure as compared to spending leisure time at home or very near it is the extra sense of independence and freedom that tourism offers, especially the physical withdrawal from known environment. This provides an immense sense of freedom that no other form of leisure can offer. Moreover, tourism doesn’t occur as frequently as other forms of leisure do and is much costlier compared to other options, hence touring is much anticipated and provides more value for money as compared to other forms of leisure.

However, this approach clubs all other forms of leisure in a single homogenous group which might not be factually correct. In fact, tourism and other forms of leisure activities have different appeal to different persons and purely from behavioral standpoint it would be unwise to put tourism on a separate pedestal from other forms of leisure activities.

Thus it would be improper to either segregate tourism as a special form of leisure time activity or club tourism together with all other available forms of spending leisure time.

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Attitude determinants in tourism destination choice

Filed under: Tourism industry — niranjanchatterjee @ 11:08 pm
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Review of article “Attitude determinants in Tourism Destination Choice” by Seoho Um and John L. Crompton (Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 17, pp. 432-448, 1990)

The authors begin with an assumption that the perceived notion of tourism destination is a gestalt, which actually means a perception about the proposed destination that is the result of interaction of several stimuli and is generally not an aggregate of individual stimuli but a completely different construct that arises out of mutual interaction of mostly related but often unrelated stimuli. As potential tourists generally do not have crystal clear ideas about desired destination, they form a perception about the place through authentic and often not so authentic sources and derive a construct that might or might not reflect ground reality. The authors examine the relation between attitude of tourists and their final choice of a tourist destination.

The authors have segmented their research into three slots – external inputs, internal inputs and cognitive constructs.

Generally external inputs in case of potential tourists consist of both, information from friends that have visited the destination earlier and from printed brochures or presentations made by travel operators. The authors have found from the data they have accumulated while 74% of respondents have received information from their friends 20% have received it from material supplied by tour organizers and operators.

Internal inputs depend on the attitudes, values, social mores and demographic status of potential tourists.

An interaction and integration of these two types of inputs generate a third and totally independent awareness of all possible destinations and an evoked set of destinations that consist of some form of a shortlist of all destinations that the potential tourist will consider for the current trip. The evoked set is constructed after a decision has been made about making a trip but not quite certain as to where it might be. Therefore, the evoked set is an intermediate stage between awareness of possible destinations and a zeroing in on a particular destination as the final choice.

Though it is widely accepted by researchers that attitudes play a significant part in making the final choice some researchers have observed that often attitudes have little impact on the final choice, especially in case of purchase of white goods and kitchen appliances. However, authors of the present article have incorporated situational variables into attitudes to remove subjectivity to the extent possible in such cases of social science research and have defined attitude as the quantum difference between perceive facilitators and perceived inhibitors thereby implying positive attitude as being directly variable with the magnitude of the difference between perceived facilitators and perceived inhibitors. The authors have also introduced an economic aspect in their study in the form of choosing a destination that would maximize utility of potential tourists which in simple terms means getting maximum utility out of every dollar spent in travelling to a particular destination.

The authors finally arrived at three criteria that potential tourists check before finalizing a destination. They are, need satisfaction, social agreement and travelability. Need satisfaction generally implied the extent to which a destination would be able to satisfy a tourist’s personal inclinations while visiting a particular place and that includes inter alia needs for novelty, challenge, relaxation etc. Social agreement implies the extent to which a particular destination would meet approval of peer group. Travelability includes more practical concerns as money, time, health and skill if any necessary to visit and enjoy the beauties off a particular destination.

The data was collected through sample survey and passed through rigorous mathematical processes and authors concluded attitude is indeed a vital determinant in choosing a final destination by potential tourists.

Sport Tourism as Celebration of Subculture

Filed under: Tourism industry — niranjanchatterjee @ 11:04 pm
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Review of the article “Sport tourism as Celebration of Subculture” by B. Christine Green and Laurence Chalip (Annals ofTourirm Research, Vol. 25, No. 2, PP. 275-291, 1998)

The authors have examined the attractiveness of a tourist destination as a venue of a sporting event and have specifically examined the motives of participants travelling to a particular destination as it was hosting a women’s flag football tournament. With changing attitudes and a desire to portray an active and youthful persona, sporting activities is no longer the domain of only the young but people that are not so young are also becoming increasingly interested in sports and eager to visit destinations that host sporting events. Therefore sports tourism is gradually developing into a specific and well define genre of tourism industry.

However, it must be remembered that there is a very vital difference between participating in a sports event and being there as a spectator. Generally tourism literature concentrates on spectator volumes rather than number of participants that take part in a sporting event and it is always economical to host a sports event that has minimal participants while drawing vast number of spectators. Also there needs to be a differentiation between participants that engage in a sporting activity more as a recreation and for the pleasure of playing the game and those that engage in a competitive sporting event with the aim of winning the trophy. While the former group would be more interested in availability of sporting and recreational facilities the latter would be more intent on defeating competitors and lifting the winner’s trophy. The researchers preferred to term the former group as “activity participants” while the latter as “players” to identify the intent and focus of these two groups.

The authors have studied Key West Women’s Flag Football tournament and tried to investigate and analyze the motives that coaxed participants to travel to a particular tournament. While one of the authors participated as a player the other was not attached to any particular team. This provided the authors both an insider’s as well outsider’s perspective to the whole issue as they debriefed each other and assimilated their observations and findings.

This tournament has gradually increased in terms of participation of teams as well as spectators and has now acquired a significant place in the country’s sporting calendar. This sporting event has also acquired some form of a cult status and participants have started finding an affinity and bonding towards not only this sport but also this particular tournament. The organizers have also been quick to grasp the opportunity and included quite a sprinkling social events along with the main sporting event and specified venues where participants from various team can mix and gel with each other. In order to retain some form exclusivity and consequent elevation to some form of a subculture, the organizers charge fees for entry in all venues where social events are held. Fees automatically reduce the number of participants and as a natural consequence those that throng such social events start feeling they are privileged members of some esoteric gang.

The development of a subculture associated with women’s football has been facilitated by male dominance in this sport and the geographical distance between centers where women’s football is actively played. Women who play football consider themselves as somewhat different and consider this an opportunity to give back to the society that promotes male dominance. It is a form of protest and women footballers feel proud to be part of the gang that breaks social customs and mores.

Hence this tournament is much more than a competition between teams; it is more of social reunion of a small but determined community and all participants feel a sense of homecoming when they gather together to take part in the tournament.

The authors thus conclude that sports tourism actually helps participants to reaffirm their identity and existence and is much more than mere act of travelling to a destination and participating in a competition.

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