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1. Introduction

Insight on the needs and preferences of tourists represents a key success factor in the tourism industry. This insight may be an important policy tool for tourism planners and managers in the development of products and marketing strategies.

This preliminary study is focused on the underlying reasons for the travel decisions of the residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho (composed of the municipalities of Barcelos, Braga, Guimarães, and Vila Nova de Famalicão). The aim of the research is three-fold. Firstly, the study identifies the push and pull motivational factors of residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho. Secondly, the study examines whether there are differences between the tourist motivations of residents of the four different municipalities. Finally, the study investigates if there are any differences in the motivations of those who choose national and international destinations.

Relying on data collected from questionnaires that were administered in 2012 to residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho, the empirical analysis was conducted based on the push and pull motivational framework. A principal component factor analysis is employed to identify push and pull factors. The mean scores of these factors are then compared across the four municipalities of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho to understand what factors are perceived more important for residents of each municipality. Additionally, these mean scores are used to determine decisive factors in the destination choice (national or international) of residents of the Urban Quadrangle in 2011.

This paper is organized in the following manner. The first section briefly reviews the literature on tourism motivation. The methodological framework used for empirical purposes is described in section two, while the estimated results are reported and discussed in the third section. The main conclusions are reported in the final part of the paper.


2. Tourism motivation

Motivation is an important variable in explaining tourist behavior. Reflected in travel choice, motivation plays a crucial role in understanding the decision making process of tourists. There are several theoretical frameworks concerning tourism motivation. One of the most commonly applied motivational frameworks is the two-dimensional push and pull approach. The importance of push and pull factors in shaping tourist motivation was proposed by Dann (1977). Push factors are socio-physiological motives that help to explain the individual’s need to travel, such as the desire for rest, relaxation, health, and adventure. These factors are referred to as intangible forces that are internal to individuals and that push them into making travel decisions.

Pull factors are related to destination choice. They emerge as a result of the attractiveness of the destination’s attributes, such as historical and cultural resources, beaches and recreation facilities. These pull factors are defined as tangible forces that are external to individuals and that pull them towards the travel destination. The main idea underlying the push and pull approach is that travel decision is formed in a two-stage sequence. The individual is initially pushed to travel by internal desires, and then pulled by external resources related to the destination.

Based on Dann’s (1977) theoretical framework, Crompton (1979) conceptualized motivational factors that influence tourists’ decisions. Nine motivational categories were identified. These categories were classified as either socio-psychological (push) motives or cultural (pull) motives. The socio-psychological motives include: “escape from a perceived mundane environment”; “exploration and evaluation of self”; “relaxation”; “prestige”; “regression”; “enhancement of kinship relationships”; and “facilitation of social interaction”. The cultural motives were identified as “novelty” and “education”.

Several studies aimed at capturing the underlying reasons for travel decisions are based on the push and pull motivational approach. Kozak (2002) examined if motivational differences existed between tourists from the same country visiting two different geographical destinations and across tourists from two different countries visiting the same destination. The main findings demonstrated differences in tourism motivation between nationalities and places visited. Kim et al. (2006) analyzed the travel decisions of students at an American university. Their study reveals seven push and six pull factors and substantial differences in the factors across destinations. The push factors include: “escape”, “seeing and learning”, “adventure and thrill”, “visiting friends or relatives”, “indulgence”, “nature” and “fun and entertainment”. Among the pull factors are “sun and beaches”, “time and cost”, “sports”, attractions”, “family” and “natural environment”. Jang and Cai (2002) identify six push and five pull factors of motivation associated with British outbound pleasure travellers. “Knowledge seeking” and “cleanliness and safety” were perceived as the most important push and pull factors respectively. The authors further identify key motivational factors that have significant effects on destination choice. The results show that British travelers tend to visit the US for “fun and excitement” and “outdoors activities”, Oceania for “family and friendship togetherness” and Asia “to seek a novel experience”. Jonsson and Devonish (2008) investigated whether there are differences between tourism motivations of those who are from different countries travelling to the destination of Barbados. They also examined whether there are any differences in the motivations between male and female tourists, and among tourists of different age groups. The study concludes that both nationality and age affect travel motivations, but gender does not.

McGehee et al. (1996) studied the gender differences in push and pull motivational factors of Australian tourists. The main results of this empirical analysis reveal that male and female tourists place different importance on some push and pull factors. Men are more motivated by sports and adventure, whereas women place more importance on culture, opportunities for family bonding and prestige. Meng and Uysal (2008) also addressed tourism motivation from a gendered perspective based on the push and pull motivational framework. The findings of their study reveal gender differences in the perceived importance that men and women place on destination attributes. Women place higher importance on most destination attributes, especially with regard to natural scenery and recreational activities. Men value nature-based activities and resort facilities. These findings are similar to the findings of McGehee et al. (1996) that men are more likely to seek action and adventure in their tourism experience.

3. Methodology

This study investigates the push and pull motivational factors of the residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho, composed of the municipalities of Barcelos, Braga, Guimarães, and Vila Nova de Famalicão. This association of municipalities’ aims to create synergy and allow a greater assertiveness, promote competitiveness, innovation and internationalization of the municipalities acting as a whole (Câmara Municipal de Braga, 2008). These four municipalities are included in the same district, and the geographical distance between them is of about twenty miles. This group of municipalities has a total of about 600 000 inhabitants (120 391 in Barcelos, 181 874 in Braga, 158 124 in Guimarães and 133 832 inhabitants in Vila Nova de Famalicão – INE, 2011). This region has a young population, likely to travel, and has faced a significant increase of tourists and events (e.g., Euro 2004, Guimarães European Capital of Culture 2012 and Braga European Youth Capital 2012). For all of these reasons, it is important to know what are the tourist motivations of the regions’ residents, motorize these motivations over time and assess the extent to which major events and the growth of tourism changes/affects their tourist motivations. This study is a first step for these broader objectives.


4. Questionnaire and data collection

The questionnaire contains three main sections. In the first section, information about push and pull motivation is collected. Respondents are asked to specify how important each item is to them when making travel decisions using a five-point Likert scale (1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = neutral; 4 = important; 5 = very important). A total of 23 push and 30 pull motivation items was used based on previous empirical research, namely a study conducted by Kim et al. (2006). In the second section, respondents were asked to specify general information about their tourist travel made in 2011 (number of trips, length of stay, destination, travel group size, major reason for travel, trip organization). In the final section, information on socio-demographic characteristics such as gender, age, residence, marital status, education and household income was collected.

In the beginning of March 2012, a pre-test involving 10 graduate students was carried out. This exercise made it possible, among other things, to discover and correct any potential problems. Minor changes, mostly related to the clarity of the questions, were included in the final questionnaire.

In order to create the sample, the Director of Superior School of Management of the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave (authors’ affiliation) was contacted. This school is located in Barcelos and most of its students are residents in the geographical area of the study. This allowed the coverage of the four municipalities that compose the Urban Quadrangle of Minho.

This graduate school was chosen due to the facility to contact the students and ask them for help in implementing the survey. Four questionnaires were distributed to each student from selected classes. The student should answer one of the questionnaires and family or friends that were residents in the cities in analysis should fill out the remaining. The students were asked to return the filled out questionnaires within a two weeks’ time schedule.

The sample revealed itself to be biased given the underrepresentation of residents from Guimarães and Vila Nova de Famalicão. A new attempt to ensure the representativeness of the study population was made. New data were obtained during the month of October. A total of 472 usable surveys were returned; however, it was found that only 460 were from residents of the municipalities under analysis.


5. Data analysis

The data analysis in this study consisted of three stages. First, push and pull motivation factors were ranked and the five most important and the five least important were highlighted. The principal components factor analysis was employed separately to the push and pull expressions in order to identify underlying dimensions associated with residents’ motivations for tourist traveling. A varimax rotation, the most common choice in the orthogonal rotation method, was used since it generally provides easier interpretation and the resulting factors were expected to be utilized in the subsequent analysis (Hair et al., 1998). A cut-off eigenvalue of one was pre-determined. All items have factor loadings greater than 0.4 and were retained for each factor grouping. Cronbach's alpha was applied to test the reliability of factor groupings. The factors with alphas greater than 0.6 were retained for further analysis (Hair et al., 1998). Second, based on the results of the factor analysis, ANOVA was used to examine the differences regarding push and pull motivation between the residents of the four different municipalities. The mean scores of push and pull factors were compared across municipalities to understand what factors were perceived more important for residents of each municipality.

Finally, independent sample t-tests were used to investigate if there are any differences in the motivations of those who choose national and international destinations. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), version 19.0.


6. Results

6.1. Sample profile

Table 1 summarizes the socio-demographic profile of the survey sample. The respondents were mostly female (57.4%) and married (49.9%). The largest age cohort of respondents was the one aged between 25-44 years old (35.7%), followed by the 15-24 years old (27.2%). Despite the effort made to insure a better representativeness of the population of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho, the cohorts cited were overrepresented and the 45-64 years old respondents remained under-represented in the sample (57.5% was the corresponding Urban Quadrangle proportion).

A total of 35% of the survey respondents was endowed with a secondary education and 26.1% with a higher education level.


6.2. Importance ranking of travelers' motivations

The importance levels of the Quadrangle travelers' motivations were measured on a five-point Likert scale (1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = neutral; 4 = important; 5 = very important). Table 2 shows the importance rankings of 53 motivation expressions delineated into the push and pull categories.

With mean scores above 4.09, the most important push items include “to spend time with friends/someone special” (4.31), “to spend time with my family” (4.21) and “to reduce stress” (4.20). On the other hand, “meeting the opposite sex” (2.60) and “to do nothing” (2.69) were considered the least important. The top five items of pull factors included “clean/comfortable accommodations” (4.51), “security” (4.46) and “beautiful landscapes and scenery” (4.19). The least important pull items were related to “game (bingos, casinos ...)” (2.31), “to participate in sport events” (2.67) and “to view sport events” (2.84).


6.3. Push and pull factors

In order to determine the underlying dimensions of the correlated destination attribute variables, the 23 push and 30 pull items were factor analyzed utilizing two principal components analysis with varimax rotation.

The desires rising within travelers' mind, which trigger actual behavior, represent the push factors (Jang & Cai, 2002). Six factors were derived from the factor analysis of 23 push items (Table 3). These factors explained 61.85 percent of the variance. The first push factor was labeled "learning/knowledge and accounted for 27.21 percent of the variance. It had a reliability alpha of 0.82 with an eigenvalue of 6.26. The second factor, labeled "family/friends" was comprised of 4 items: “visiting friends/relatives”, “visiting where my family came from”, “to spend time with my family” and “seeing nature”. With an eigenvalue of 2.55, it captured 11.08 percent of the variance in the push motivation. The third factor was labeled "relaxation" with 7.34 percent variance explained and a reliability alpha of 0.74. The fourth factor, named "exhibitionism/eccentricity" explained 6.63 percent of the variance with a reliability alpha of 0.61. With a reliability coefficient of 0.70, factor five, namely "fun/adventure", accounted for 5.06 percent of the variance. The sixth push factor was labeled as "enjoyment” since it incorporated the items of “to spend time with friends/someone special” and “enjoying good weather”. It had the lowest explanatory power (4.53 percent) with a reliability alpha of 0.62.

In sum, two factors, "learning/knowledge" and "family/friends”, captured 38.29 percent of the push variance, contributing to explaining much of why the residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho travel.

Under the structure of the five-point scale for motivations used in the survey, 3 can be interpreted as an indifferent point that does not make a distinction between importance and unimportance. The higher the mean score is, the more important the motivation factor is. With the highest mean importance of 4.20, "enjoyment" was the most significant factor to the Quadrangle of Minho travelers. Another material factor was "relaxation" with a mean of 4.02. It suggests that these factors were the main reasons for the residents of the Quadrangle of Minho travel decisions.

As drawing forces into travel destinations, the 30 pull items resulted in 7 factors with eigenvalues greater than one, and the factors accounted for 60.97 percent of the total pull variance as presented in Table 4. These factors were labeled sports/nightlife”, “comfort/safety”, “family oriented”; “nature”, “local culture”, “sun/beach”, and finally “religion”. The first pull factor, labeled "sports/nightlife", explained 24.16 percent of the variance with a reliability coefficient of 0.86. It is followed by factor 2 (12.82% of the total variance and Cronbach’s alpha level of 0.80), which comprises items related to the “security”, “availability of transportation” and “of information about destination”, “clean/comfortable accommodations”, “good accessibility” and “good value for the cost”.

Factor 3, labeled “family oriented”, explained 6.89 percent of the variance contained by the original variables, with the alpha level of 0.73. Factor 4 was labeled “nature” since it incorporated “mountains”, “snow”, “beautiful landscape” and “rivers/lakes/streams”. With a reliability coefficient of 0.73, this factor accounted 5.48 percent of the variance. The sixth factor represents 3.61 percent of the total statistical variance and had a reliability alpha of 0.67. This factor is associated with the “warm/sunny weather” and “sea/beaches”. The final factor represents 3.47 percent of the total statistical variance and had a reliability alpha of 1, since it incorporated only 1 item.

In sum, the three factors of "sports/nightlife", "comfort/safety" and "family oriented" accounted for 43.86 percent of the pull variance. These factors explained by what destination attributes the Quadrangle residents were greatly motivated. In addition, with high mean scores, "comfort/safety", "sun/beaches", and "family oriented" appeared as the most important pull factors to the Quadrangle travelers.

The mean scores of the extracted factors were also consistent with the rankings of the individual motivation items. “Enjoyment”, a push factor with the highest mean of importance, includes two top individual push items. As the bottom pull factor, "sports/nightlife” encompasses the five less important items of individual pull motivations.


6.4. Municipality comparison on push and pull factors

After the push and pull factors were delineated, their mean scores were compared across municipalities (see Tables 5 and 6). The comparison revealed how different push and pull motivation factors were in relation to the place of residence of respondents, although the factors most valued and least valued are common to all municipalities, in both push and pull factors.

The push factor “enjoyment” scored the highest value for all municipalities, indicating that the residents from the Quadrangle are greatly motivated by their desire to enjoy time with friends or someone special and to enjoy good weather. Also, all municipalities groups place “exhibitionism/eccentricity” as the least important factor among the push factors. ANOVA results indicated, however, that only the factors 2, 3 and 6 present differences statistically significant at the 0.05 level. The residents of V.N. Famalicão value factors 2 and 6 more than residents of Barcelos and Braga. On the other hand, residents of Guimarães value the factor family/friends” more than residents of Braga.

With regard to pull factors, all municipalities ranked “comfort/safety” as the most important factor, and place “sports/nightlife” as the least important factor. ANOVA results indicated, however, that only factors 1 and 7 present differences statistically significant at the 0.05 level. Factors 2 and 6 are less important to the residents of V.N. Famalicão than to the residents of Guimarães.


6.5. Destination comparison on push and pull factors

The mean scores of push and pull factors were also used to determine decisive factors in the destination choice (national or international) of residents of the Urban Quadrangle in 2011 (see Tables 7 and 8).

The push factors provide information on what internally encourages residents to travel, while pull factors indicate which attributes of the destinations are more attractive. Thus, the results can be used by planners and marketers of destinations to understand their competitive positions in the market (Jang & Cai, 2002).

Results indicated that national destination had higher mean scores across all factors, except “learning/knowledge” and “exhibitionism/eccentricity”, higher in respondents that choose international destinations. However, t-test showed that these differences were not statistically significant at the 0.05 level.

Residents that choose domestic destinations ranked “enjoyment” as the most important factor to travel followed by “relaxation” and “family/friends”. For residents who choose international destinations, the most valued factor also was enjoyment”, followed by “relaxation” and “learning/knowledge”. Both groups put “exhibitionism/eccentricity” as the least important factor among the push factors.

With regard to pull factors, the most important factor for both groups was “comfort/safety”. Also, both groups place “sports/nightlife” as the least important factor among the pull factors. All differences were not statistically significant at the 0.05 level, except for factor 6 “sun/beach” and factor 7 “religion”.


7. Conclusion

This preliminary study was aimed at capturing the underlying reasons for the travel decisions of the residents of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho. Specifically, the objective was to determine push and pull tourism motivational factors of region’s residents, as well as to discover significant differences in these factors across the four municipalities of the Urban Quadrangle of Minho.

The two principal component factor analyses delineated 6 push and 7 pull factors. The push factors were labeled: “learning/knowledge”, “family/friends”, “relaxation”, “exhibitionism/eccentricity”, “fun/adventure” and “enjoyment”. The pull factors included sports/nightlife”, “comfort/safety”, “family oriented”; “nature” “local culture”, “sun/beaches” and “religion”.

The comparison of the mean scores of these push and pull factors by municipality reveals that the most valued and least valued factors are common to all four municipalities. With regard to the push factors, the residents of the Quadrangle rank “enjoyment” as the most important factor; “exhibition/eccentricity” is considered the least important. Among the pull factors, the most decisive factor for all municipalities is “comfort/safety”; the least decisive reason to travel is “sports/nightlife”.

Similar results are observed when comparing the mean scores of the push and pull factors across residents who choose national destinations and residents that choose international destinations. Hence, both groups of travelers rank “enjoyment” as the most important push travel reason and consider “exhibition/eccentricity” to be the least decisive motive among the push factors. With regard to the pull factors, “comfort/safety” is valued the most important and “sports/nightlife” is considered to be the least important.

The insight gained by the empirical analysis conducted in this paper may be an important policy tool for tourism planners and managers in the development of products and marketing strategies with regard to the residents of the Quadrangle of Minho.




References

Câmara Municipal de Braga (2008). Quadrilátero Urbano para a Competitividade, a Inovação e a Internacionalização – Programa Estratégico de Cooperação [cited 10 May 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.cm-braga.pt/wps/wcm/connect/ffd4d70040aa39ba934c9b4b94834e1e/PECQuadrilatero.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

Crompton, J. (1979). Motivations for pleasure vacation. Annals of Tourism Research, 6, 408-424.

Dann, G. (1977). Anomie ego-enhancement and tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 4, 184-194.

Hair, J., Anderson, R., Tatham, R. & Black, W. (1998) Multivariate data analysis: With readings. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

INE. Censos 2011 – Recenseamento da População e Habitação - Resultados Provisórios. Lisboa: Instituto Nacional de Estatística. 2011. [cited 10 May 2012]. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.ine.pt/xportal/xmain?xpid=INE&xpgid=ine_publicacoes&PUBLICACOESpub_boui=122073978&PUBLICACOEStema=55466&PUBLICACOESmodo=2.

Jang, S. & Cai, L. (2002). Travel motivations and destination choice: a study of British outbound market. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 13, 111-133.

Jonsson, C. & Devonish, D. (2008). Does nationality, gender, and age affect travel motivation? A case of visitors to the Caribbean island of Barbados. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 25, 398-408.

Kim, K., Jogaratnam, G. & Noh, J. (2006). Travel decisions of students at a US university: segmenting the international market. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 12, 345-357.

Kozak, M. (2002). Comparative analysis of tourist motivations by nationality and destinations. Tourism Management, 23, 221-232.

McGehee, N., Murphy, L. & Uysal, M. (1996). The Australian international pleasure travel market: motivations from a gendered perspective. The Journal of Tourism Studies, 7, 45-57.

Meng, F. & Uysal, M. (2008).Effects of gender differences on perceptions of destination attributes, motivations, and travel values: an examination of a nature-based resort destination. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 16, 445-466.




Table 1: Sample profile


Total

(N=460)

Gender


Female

57.4%

Male

42.6%

Age


15-24

27.2%

25-44

35.7%

45-64

23.5%

65 and over

13.5%

Marital status


Single

40.2%

Married

49.9%

Divorced

4.6%

Windowed

5.3%

Education


Primary

38.8%

High school

35.0%

Graduate school

21.9%

Master/PhD

4.2%

Travel arrangements


Complete package

18.8%

Half board

4.3%

Individually organized

73.9%

Other

2.9%

Municipality


Barcelos

22.6%

Braga

27.0%

Guimarães

29.6%

Vila Nova de Famalicão

20.9%

Source: Authors’ own survey data.



Table 2: Importance rankings of push and pull motivations


Rank

Items

Mean

SD

Push

Most important

1

To spend time with friends/someone special

4.31

0.80

2

To spend time with my family

4.21

0.92

3

To reduce stress

4.20

0.90

4

Seeing/experiencing a new destination

4.13

0.84

5

Enjoying good weather

4.09

0.80

Least important

1

Meeting the opposite sex

2.60

1.29

2

To do nothing

2.69

1.33

3

Going places that friends have not visited

2.89

1.10

4

Rediscovering myself

3.32

1.06

5

Talking about trips after returning home

3.34

1.08

Pull

Most important

1

Clean/comfortable accommodations

4.51

0.70

2

Security

4.46

0.73

3

Beautiful landscapes and scenery

4.19

0.78

4

Availability of information about destination

4.14

0.86

5

Good value for the cost

4.11

0.90

Least important

1

Game (bingos, casinos ...)

2.31

1.22

2

To participate in sport events

2.67

1.22

3

To view sport events

2.84

1.18

4

Business/profession

2.86

1.20

5

Nightlife (bars, clubs ...)

2.90

1.31

Source: Authors’ own survey data.

Note: Respondents were asked to indicate the importance of each motivation when taking a tourist trip (1 = not at all important; 2 = not very important; 3 = neutral; 4 = important; 5 = very important).



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