Tourist motivations for small european cities

Our latest article has just been published in the journal Sustainability. It is open-access, meaning anyone can read it with no paywall. In the article, we propose a new fuzzy-logic model for analysing tourist motivations, which shows how they can change across different age groups. The research was carried out in Novi Sad, in Serbia, which is typical of many small European cities who are trying to develop sustainable urban tourism by attracting different age-groups. Hopefully, the findings of our research will be useful for other cities facing similar issues. You can read the whole article here, and the abstract is below.

“Tourist motivation, as a core of travel behavior, significantly influences consumer intentions and has attracted academic attention for decades. A plethora of studies analyse sets of internal and external motivators, while methodologies that exclusively focus on a single factor, such as age, that can sometimes have a determining influence in multi-attraction destinations, are less prevalent. This study introduces a fuzzy logic approach to develop a new model for analysing the internal motivations of different-aged consumers in multi-attraction urban destinations. Fuzzy models, as a mathematical means of representing vagueness and imprecise information, have the capability of recognizing, representing, manipulating, interpreting, and utilizing data and information, which typically for urban tourist motivations, are vague and lack certainty. This research tests the model in a real-life setting, using the example of Novi Sad, a mid-sized European city, which is typical of many similar cities who are attempting to develop sustainable tourism by attracting older tourists. The new model shows how tourist motivations for multi-attraction destinations are affected by age, through a specially developed m-file for MATLAB, so that it can be applied and tested in other tourism contexts. Theoretical and practical implications for sustainable destination management and marketing are described.”

Dark Cities: A ranking of Europe’s top tourism cities in terms of dark tourism

With my colleagues Raymond Powell and Christopher Barton, we’ve just had a new paper published in the International Journal of Tourism Cities.  In the paper, we analyse the content of the websites for the Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) of each of Europe’s top ten most visited cities.  We carried out content analysis using key words and concepts associated with dark tourism, in order to see whether the DMOs were promoting dark tourism as part of their offer, and whether this was related to their success as a destination.

“Dark tourism can be defined as tourism associated with the visitation of sites which have death, tragedy or suffering as an ingredient in the mix of visitor motivations in some way or other” (Powell et al 2018: 2)

We found that there were very significant differences in terms of that what extent each of these destinations promoted their dark tourism offer on their tourist websites, but that this didn’t seem to be obviously connected to their success in attracting tourists.

darkness ranking table
Source: Powell et al 2018

This was only a very small sample of destination websites, and although it does at first glance appear that the more ‘dark’ you are, the less visited you are, it is difficult to be sure of this at this stage of the research.  What was clear from our data, however, was that European city destinations vary enormously in terms of how their promote their dark tourism offer.

Our next piece of research on this project will look at a larger sample of the top 100 city tourism destinations in the world, with a more sophisticated content analysis methodology.   Recent research suggests that the dramatic growth in academic research into dark tourism hasn’t been mirrored by its acceptance in the tourism industry.  We aim to look at this from the DMO perspective, to discover whether this is the case for city tourism.

Urban Tourist Motivations: Why Visit Ljubljana?

Together with my colleagues Sanja Bozic, Miroslav Vujicic and Tamara Jovanovic from the University of Novi Sad, we have recently published an article in the International Journal of Tourism Cities that investigates urban tourists’ motivations for visiting Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.  You can read the article here.  If you would like to read it and don’t have access, please get in touch.  The abstract of the article is below:

The city of Ljubljana

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a new perspective on urban tourist motivations by applying the analytic hierarchy process (AHP) model to help to understand how tourists make decisions about which destinations to visit.

Design/methodology/approach – This study was based on 30 one-hour-long structured interviews with visitors to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. Respondents were asked to express their preferences between different pull-factor motives for their visit, using Saaty’s scale, and further qualitative data were collected to examine these preferences in more depth.

Findings – The results of this study indicate that the most relevant criteria and thus predominant factors in motivation for visits to Ljubljana are the Cultural and Nightlife pull factors, while religious and business motives are the lowest ranked factors. The paper argues that the results show the value of applying the AHP model to understand the role of pull factors in urban tourism destination choice.

Research limitations/implications – As a single-destination case study, it is important that the findings of this research are evaluated against similar studies in other cities. A limitation of this research is the fact that sub motives within major groups of pull-factor motives have not been explored in this study and this should be the subject of future, more detailed research.

Originality/value – This research shows the value of applying an under-used methodology to understand urban tourist motivations and knowledge gained through applying this method will be of value to destination marketing organisations as well as to researchers conducting future studies.

Travel Constraints for City Break Travel: Novi Sad, Serbia

I was recently very pleased to be invited onto the Scientific Committee for the 17th Contemporary Trends in Tourism and Hospitality conference in Novi Sad, Serbia.  With colleagues from the University of Novi Sad, we presented a paper on the constraints affecting city break tourists, based on research by my colleague Dr Miroslav Vujičić into visitors to the city of Novi Sad itself.  This is useful research for researchers and practitioners considering city marketing and urban destination management as it identifies the factors that impact on potential tourists’ decision to travel.  The abstract for this paper is below:

 

TRAVEL CONSTRAINTS FOR CITY BREAK TRAVEL – CASE STUDY: NOVI SAD, VOJVODINA, SERBIA

 

Miroslav D. Vujičić (1)*, James Kennell (2), Tamara Jovanović (1), Đorđije A. Vasiljević (1), Snežana Besermenji (1), Uglješa Stankov (1), Igor Stamenković (1)

(1) Department of geography, tourism and hotel management, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad, Trg Dositeja Obradovića 3, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia

(2) Department of Marketing, Events and Tourism, Faculty of Business, University of Greenwich, Old Royal Naval College, Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9LS

* Corresponding author: miroslav.vujicic@dgt.uns.ac.rs

 

Travel constraints in general can be described as barriers or blockages that inhibit continued use of recreation service, but maybe a better definition was given by Jackson (1991) which described them as factors that “limit the formation of leisure preferences and … inhibit or prohibit participation and enjoyment in leisure”.  Most researchers distinguish three categories of constraints: interpersonal (attributes of the individual) intrapersonal (social interaction) and structural (characteristics of the physical environment).

 

In recent times cities emerged as principal centres of human activity and can be perceived as places that facilitate a diverse range of social, cultural and economic activities and where tourism and entertainment form major service components. Novi Sad is the second largest city of Serbia, the capital of the autonomous province of Vojvodina and the administrative centre of the South Bačka District. This research deals with limitations for city break travel, for tourists who visit Novi Sad. The authors used the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) method with the aim to rank constraints in city break travel. Preliminary results indicate that structural constrains (0.633) are most dominant, followed by intrapersonal (0.199) and that the least dominant are interpersonal constrains (0.169).  The synthesis of results, 22 items in total, indicate that the most dominant constraints are:

 

  • Travel is too expensive (0.078)
  • Business obligations limit my travel (0.072)
  • Travel involves too much risk (0.060)

 

and the least dominant are:

 

  • I don’t have time to travel (0.017)
  • Too much traffic on destination (0.022)
  • I don’t have enough information about a place I plan to visit (0.029)

 

This research showed that most dominant constraint factors are structural in nature,  as shown by criteria weights on first level of hierarchy and the synergy of the results of criteria weights which acknowledge that fact. The study showed that the consistency ratio (CR), according to the AHP method, is 0.07 (CR<0.1), indicating that the study is reliable and accurate and that therefore there is no need for adjustments in the comparison between criteria.

 

Key words: Travel constraints, city break, Novi Sad, analytical hierarchy process

Dark Cities?

This is a presentation based on research that my colleague Raymond Powell and I have been carrying out into Dark Tourism in Europe.  Raymond gave the presentation at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Association of Cultural and Digital Tourism in Athens, Greece.  Dark tourism can be defined as tourism associated with the visitation of sites which have death, tragedy or suffering as their main theme. Commonly such visits are conducted with commemoration, education or entertainment in mind (Stone, 2005). Europe has an abundance of such sites, both real and imagined, which offer ample opportunities to experience dark tourism in all of these ways if so desired. However, they are rarely conceptualised as dark products, and as such categorisation of individual attractions is, at the moment, confused. In the paper that we presented, we begin the process of ranking European cities in terms of how ‘dark’ their tourism offer is.  We hope to develop this over the next couple of years, firstly by carrying out some case studies to verify this initial ranking process.  You can read the abstract of our paper below.

 

Despite the recent growth of research into dark tourism (Dale & Robinson, 2011; Lennon & Foley, 2000; Stone, 2013; Tarlow, 2005) and the growth of the dark tourism market (Biran & Hyde, 2013; Stone 2005; Stone & Sharpley, 2008), there has been little interest shown in understanding the relationship between dark tourism and urban tourism (Page & Hall 2002). This paper presents the initial findings of a research project that investigates the dark tourism products offered by European cities. A series of keywords were developed following a review of the dark tourism literature and this was used carry out a content analysis of the Destination Marketing Organisation websites for Europe’s ten most visited cities.  The content analysis used Stone’s (2006) Dark Tourism Continuum to evaluate the dark tourism products offered in each destination and to present a descriptive overview of Europe’s city-based dark tourism offer.   The paper concludes that there are a wide range of dark tourism products available to urban tourists in Europe, but that these are rarely conceptualised as such.  The mixture of ‘light’ and ‘dark’ dark tourism products presents difficulties in categorisation and standardisation of the urban tourism offer, but this is a potential area of new product development for DMOs across Europe.