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What motivates tourists to travel?

Updated on April 15, 2012

Have you ever wondered what motivates you to travel? Could it because you want to experience a whole new environment, visit some distant relatives, for educational purposes or just for fun? The reason behind why people travel can well be described as tourism motivation.
Tourism motivation is the driving force behind a tourist’s intensions and behaviors. It forms people’s goals, expectation that constitutes of travel choice, behavior and perceptions in regard to specific tourist’s destination. Tourist’s motivations forms due to internal psychological factors that cause an uncomfortable level of tension and needs that should be released after a given activity is under taken. Tourists can actualize their intrinsic needs and motives if they manage to self actualize and liberate them.
The type of tourists’ motivation is relative to the type of context it is generated from. For instance cultural motivation is dependent on a tourist’s way of living which constitutes of the culture and tradition of his people. It is rare to find tourists select a destination that practices the same culture as his/her own. Most tourists tend to visit cultures which are different from their own in order to learn and experience a different way of life. For example a person from Australia would be attracted to tour a region that has a different culture from his, probably a place in Africa which has a very different culture and a wide range of physical attraction. Culture is also categorized based on sustainability and the type of commodity on offer. Another type of motivation is the social motivation. Different societies have different social status and inclination. For example a student travelling from Australia to London will have a great opportunity of learning the English way of living. Although most people assume that the living conditions, family set up and socialization process in white families is similar. One can only find out the diverse social aspects in other communities by travelling to a different destination far away from home.
The selection of a tourist’s destination is often characterized by pull factors; these are conditions which intensively attract someone to a place. Examples of pull factors are favorable environmental conditions, peculiar physical attractions, people’s culture and traditions, the tourism and hospitality industry of a place. It can also be through word of mouth from people who have earlier visited the place. In addition, some tourists are pulled by environmental conditions such as sunlight and snow. The pull factor in such a case is the presence of abundant sunlight or snow.
Tourist’s typologies are based on travel patterns, it is important to categorize tourists so that their wants can be provided in specialized way. The four types of typologies that are common are; organized mass tourism, individual mass tourism, explorer and drifters. Tourism typology plays important roles in assisting planners come up with the best type of tourism for various types of individuals. For example organized mass tourists would be comfortable to visit the wild life; these are type of tourists whose tour packages have fixed itineraries. Additionally, all the activities and decision are made by the organizers. Allocentric tourist are those that are attracted by specific things that are not found in their locality, they travel to experience different cultures from their own or view different features that are not found back at home. On the other hand, psychocentric tourists are more attracted to features that are familiar to them than those that are new, they are unlikely to travel to far destination for tourism purposes. Midcentric tourists enjoy both familiar and non familiar destinations, in fact most tourists fall in this category. Whatever the pull factors may be or the tourists typology, the agents play a very important role of ensuring that tourists satisfy their external and internal motives when touring the various destination around the world. It is true that a tourist motivation will play an important role in determining the tourist destination they will select.


Garter, W .C. & Lime, W.D. (2000) Trends in outdoor recreation, leisure, and tourism Cambridge: CABI Publishing.
McIntre, N., Williams, D & McHugh, K. (2006).Multiple dwelling and tourism: negotiating place, home and identity. Cambridge: CABI Publishing



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    • profile image

      Ntshosho 3 years ago

      There are many valid reasons why tourists engage themselves in travelling, naming the few, Visiting friends and their families, spiritual reasons etc

    • bn9900 profile image

      Clayton Hartford 4 years ago from Alger WA

      Very Interesting, I have been to europe 8 times (4UK-4 Germamy) both countries I have relatives, but every time I do I try to do one historical educational thing, to learn a little more about the area. I have a feeling, that most of the time people travel to visit relatives or to go exploring, those are the people who WANT to travel the need to travel crowd are the business travellers, and they do want to but must. for their jobs.

    • profile image

      Bahari 4 years ago

      In my experience, I really want to travel if I already bored with my activities or If I was fascinating with the travel spot

    • nikhilchandra profile image

      Nikhil Chandra 4 years ago from New Delhi

      Veryi nteresting writeup on "psyche" of a traveler.

    • dommcg profile image

      dommcg 4 years ago

      thanks for the hub i found it really interesting, i really enjoy travelling and am most motivated by experiencing new cultuures that are different to my own. I also love trying new types of food, in many places i have found dishes that i have never seen before. many thanks

    • Prossylink profile image

      Prossylink 4 years ago from Nairobi

      Hi GetiScene,

      Thank you.


    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      Really interesting idea for a hub. Well done.

    • Prossylink profile image

      Prossylink 5 years ago from Nairobi

      Thats true,I was wrong about that ! investing in education and civil rights will really help. And I believe that change is around the corner, lets hope for the best.


    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Oh no! nothing to do with African blood or genes. It's the structures to control selfishness that are lacking. Once a person tastes power, they act like kings. But slowly, with new constitutions, new generations, African leaders are becoming more accountable to the people. Voters have to start wielding the power in the vote by only voting in those leaders willing to put 'citizens and country first' before all other selfish needs.

    • Prossylink profile image

      Prossylink 5 years ago from Nairobi

      It's called African presidents! Instead of improving the healthcare ,they are the first to take themselves and their families for specialised care outside. Of course on our taxes leaving us behind to suffer. I usually wonder is it something to do with African blood! so many non executed policies around!

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Prossylink, almost all African presidents go for medical treatment abroad. Maybe they'd be better off developing medicare at home and bring in the tourists instead. After all, a presidents gets to travel anyway on official duty anyway. So when I am president you know what I will do...

    • Prossylink profile image

      Prossylink 5 years ago from Nairobi


      Its good you found something. I am also mid centric,not so adventurous nor afraid to try out new things and sites. Medical tourists generally travel to get cured ,I guess after the tour,they will be better off meaning that the tour would have added value to their life . This is common among rich folks from less developed countries in terms of health care seeking first class medical attention in places with advanced medicare.

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 5 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Hello Prossylink,

      I told you I'd find something interesting. I didn't know tourists and their motivations was a science. Now there are those who come to Kenya to see the wonder of the Wilderbeeste migrations besides other wildlife. Others want to see the snow covered peaks of Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro from a distant. Others - the self actualizers I suppose - want to climb the mountains and add a feather to their caps.

      I would rather be a midcentric tourist, when the dollars come.

      Am hearing people talk about medical tourism these days. What do you think of it, when really what they need is medical attention and they wouldn't have travelled if they were not sick in the first place?

    • Prossylink profile image

      Prossylink 5 years ago from Nairobi

      Wow,Thanks Carmen,

      It feels good to get voted up! Yes it advisable to understand what motivates you to travel.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Carmen H profile image

      Carmen Beth 5 years ago

      A very interesting and thought-inducing topic! This reminds me to pause and and ponder about my travelling spirit. Voted up.