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Travel Motivation and Tourist Typologies

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Numerous attempts to understand the complex inner works of human behaviour and motivation have been sought amongst researchers in the tourism field for many years. After all, motivation is ‘the trigger that sets off all events in travel’ (Parrinello, 1993 cited in Sharpley, 1994), thus making it the most indispensable subject in tourism studies. Hence, it is the aim of this paper to critically examine the different theories on travel motivations and tourism behaviour typologies and discuss their usefulness for practitioners involved in marketing and planning tourism. The first part of the discussion will be focused on the existing theories on ‘push factors’ that drive upon individuals the desire to travel, and the latter part, will look at the different typologies of tourist behaviour attempted by researchers in an effort to better understand why people travel.

Over the years, various researchers have approached travel motivation and several authors have described their findings as a ‘fuzzy mix’ of theories and models given the complexity of both the tourism industry and of human behaviour. However, in an effort to structure this ‘fuzzy mix’, Sharpley (1994) suggests looking at travel motivation from two different standpoints: extrinsic motivation, meaning that motivation results from influences external to tourists (but not destination-specific) and intrinsic motivation which considers the individual needs of tourists per se.

Sharpley (ibid) noticed from previous works that extrinsic motivation could result from an internalisation of external values, norms and pressures, which in time could become psychological needs. Factors such as work environment and its threefold relationship with tourism (travel to compensate what i...

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