Introduction to Travel Patterns and Destinations
The Reasons People Travel
There are many reasons people travel. This is especially true today as travel is faster and cheaper than ever. However, there are seven key reasons that travel patterns have emerged. These factors have influenced people’s travel for generations. Understanding these reasons is crucial for tourist boards, travel agencies and tourism business owners. It will help them to advertise to and cater for tourists in a way that appeals to their core motivations. These reasons can also be used to predict future travel patterns and to discover new tourist destinations.
The 7 key reasons for travel are:
Traditionally, distance was measured in the amount of miles/kilometres a destination was from a person’s current location. Today, distance is more commonly measured in time. This attitude is due to different locations having better transport infrastructures than others. For example, it may take a tourist a long time to travel to a relatively close location because of a lack of direct flights. Furthermore, the longer the travel time, the greater the expense to the tourist.
The less time and money it takes to travel to a place, the more people will travel there. For example, the introduction of the jet plane cut travel time between California and Hawaii from 12 to 5 hours. This resulted in a huge increase in the number of people travelling between these two destinations. Similarly, the introduction of wide-bodied planes in the 1970s cut the cost of travel between the United States and Europe by almost 50% and resulted in a dramatic rise in the number of transatlantic travellers.
While concerns about time, distance and money are relevant for the majority of people, some tourists are attracted to faraway places.
This is especially true of wealthy and/or fashionable travellers. For example, the south of France and Spain have become accessible and popular sun destinations for European travellers. As a result, some tourists are starting to travel further afield. In recent years, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become very popular amongst the elite as they offer a more exclusive sun vacation.
Certain countries have a strong foundation of economic, historic or cultural ties. The presence of these ties strengthens the likelihood that tourists will travel between these countries. For example, German tourists may be attracted to Austria as the official language of both countries is German. Furthermore, the counties have a common history and a very similar culture.
The presence of cultural connections means tourists can feel a sense of familiarity whilst experiencing a new place. This means that travellers can begin enjoying a new place immediately without having to re-adjust or contend with culture shock.
Tourists have always travelled to destinations they find attractive. While it is difficult to generalise about what tourists find attractive, most tourists travel to places that offer them something they cannot find at home. For example, Americans are attracted to Europe because of its history and culture. Because America is a young country, it does not have the wealth of art, architecture and tradition found in Europe.
It is very important to understand what makes a destination attractive in order to market that destination effectively in other regions.
The cost of a visit to a particular destination will affect the number of tourists that travel there. In general, the more expensive a trip is, the lower the demand.
Cost is both absolute and relative. It is absolute in that, if a vacation is priced at $1,000 and the traveller does not have $1000 to spare, he/she simply cannot afford the trip. However, cost is relative in that people compare the cost of something to their perceived value. Even if they have the $1,000 but do not believe that the trip provides value for money they will not travel there.
As with distance, an inverse relationship between cost and demand exists for wealthy tourists. For these travellers, the higher the cost, the higher the demand. This segment of the market sees an intrinsic link between cost and quality. As well as quality, these travellers are willing to pay extra for the privilege of visiting “exclusive” resorts. It should be noted that that this inverse relationship exists to a certain extent in average tourists. If a trip is priced too low, people may think that it is of a low quality.
People often travel to destinations for specific events, such as major sporting tournaments or music concerts. Local and/or national governments often lobby to attract events to these areas as they see it as an opportunity to showcase its viability as a tourist destination. Thousands of people attend these events and millions will view the media coverage. The publicity often leads to an upsurge in tourist visitors after the event.
Major events also help to boost the tourist infrastructure of an area. For example, many hotels were built in South Africa in preparation for the 2010 World Cup. However, it is important to note that this infrastructure can sometimes lead to oversupply and have negative effects on tourism in the long term. Following the world cup, hotel occupancy fell from 79% to 53% in South Africa.
Certain nations have particular vacationing habits that are rooted in decades of tradition. For example, British people view having an annual holiday as being very important. Furthermore, they prefer to visit seaside resorts. Both of these habits date back to the Victorian era.
Following the industrial revolution, workers began fighting for industrial rights. One result of these efforts was the granting of a week’s holiday to all factory workers. Today British people still see taking a vacation as being extremely important. Also, in the Victorian era, the Queen and her court would holiday in seaside resorts. Because of this, the British still associate the seaside with vacationing.
People working in the tourist industry should be aware of the travel traditions of different nations to understand how best to market their business or region internationally.
Image is another important factor in people’s travel patterns. The image of a location is the perception that people gain from popular culture and media. Films, television programs, novels, news accounts and advertising combine to help people form an opinion of a place. An obvious example is Paris, which for centuries has been portrayed as a centre of culture, gastronomy and fashion as well as being a very romantic city.
A location’s image may or may not be rooted in fact. Most commonly it is a combination of fact and romantic idealism. In some cases fact can follow fiction and a location can begin to change itself to reflect its image in popular culture. For example, in the early 1980s the south of Miami was in a state of degradation. However, it became a popular shooting location for television shows and movies. The media presented Miami as a glamorous destination and helped boost the economy by attracting tourism.
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The Reasons People Travel