Examination of Demographic and Psychographic Profiles of the Sport Tourist|
John Douvis (University of Connecticut)
Aminuddin Yusof (University of Connecticut)
Stavros Douvis Ph.D. (University of Athens)
AbstractEven though sport oriented vacations have gained in popularity during the last decade, few studies have been conducted to determine the charecteristics of the sport tourists. Who are the sport tourists? What characteristics do they posssess? What factors motivate an individual to engage in the role of sport tourist? Consistent with these issues, this study examined the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the participant sport tourists. Of particular interest is the relationship between preference for sport tourism and with the demographic variables age, gender, race, marital status, and employment status. Using Levinsons (1978) adult life course as a framework, the proposition that participation in sport tourism is related to the age of the individual was investigated. In addition, the psychographic characteristics of the participant sport tourists in terms of the individuals need for stimulation, novelty, action, quiet and excitement were also examined. Using the tourist role preference scale developed by Yiannakis (1986) as the instrument, data were callected from a sample of 200 subjects. Data analysis was performed by using crosstabulations and logistic regression. The variables age, gender, and race were crosstabulated with preference for sport tourism. Males were discovered to show a higher preference for sport tourism than females.It was also discovered that interest in tourism was high for both males and females in the 17-22 age group but declines slightly for both genders beginning from the 23-27 age group. With respect to race, Hispanics and Whites were found to show a greater preference for the role of sport tourist than Blacks and Asians. Logistic regression was performed to determine whether preference and non-preference for sport tourism can be differentiated on the basis of demographic variablres (age, gender, marital status and employment status) and psychographic variables (level of stimulation, need for novelty, quiet, and action). The variables age, action and stimulation were found to be significant (p<0.05). The results showed that younger individuals were more likely to participate in sport tourism than older individuals. In addition, the results indicated that individuals who showed a preference for the role of the sport tourist are those who were seeking a lot of action and excitement in their life. The results of the study were discussed in light of earlier findings concernig demographic and psychographic characteristics of tourists. Practical implications of the results were also discussed.
1. Theoretical Framework
Introduction and Statement of the problem
Even though sport oriented vacations have gained in popularity during the last decade, few studies have been conducted to examine the characteristics of the sport tourists. Who are the sport tourists? What characteristics do they possess? What factors motivate an individual to engage in the role of the sport tourist? This lack of information makes it imposible for the sport tourism industry to implement effective market segmentation and targeting. The purpose of this study is to address the previous questions by examining the demographic and psychographic characteristics of the participant sport tourists. Specifically, this study seeks to examine the demographic variables of individuals who go on vacation to participate in favorite sporting activities. The demographic variables that will be examined include age, gender, race, marital status, and employment status. In addition, the psychographic characteristics of the participant sport tourists in terms of the individuals' need for stimulation, novelty, action, quiet and excitement will also be examined.
Present day communication networking in terms of roads, airways, computerized scheduling, maintenance technology, as well as verbal, visual, printed communication-world wide-have contributed immensely to the mobility of people and stimulated potential interests (Sport Tourism) regardless of language, culture, race and mores (Sorbelli 1987).
It has also been suggested that participation in sport tourism is related to the age of the individual. Using Levinson's (1978) adult life course as a framework, this proposition was investigated by Gibson (1994). The author discovered that there was a decrease in preference for sport tourism over the life course for both males and females. Gibson (1994) explained the decline in interest in sport tourism in terms of the changing needs of the individual over the life course. According to Gibson (1994), most individuals seek to explore and experiment with the adult life when they are in the early adulthood stage (17-39 years). During this stage, individuals prefer vigorous, exciting, and adventurous activities. However, Gibson (1994) suggested that the willingness to explore diminishes as the individual builds more stable life structures. For this reason, preference for vigorous and adventurous activities will most likely decline in late adulthood. Gibson (1994) discovered that males are more likely than females to take a sport oriented vacation. The author reported that males and females sport tourists have different characteristics. In early adulthood (17-39 years) female sport tourists were discovered to be married with young children while male sport tourists were discovered to be single professionals. Male sport tourists were discovered to earn higher income and have a higher level of education than the female sport tourists in middle adulthood (40-59 years) and late adulthood (60-91 years).
In another study, Attle (1996) investigated the characteristics of the sport tourists and examined the relationship between sport tourism and preferred destination attributes. With respect to gender, Attle (1996) discovered that the sport tourists are more likely to be males (61%). The author discovered that male and female sport tourists have similar characteristics. The majority of male and female sport tourists in the study were discovered to be single, between the ages of 18-27, with college education. The family income for both males and females were discovered to be similar with the majority of male (57.2%) and female (54.7%) sport tourists reported having family income in excess of $46,000. Attle (1996) examined the characteristics which best differentiate the sport tourists in his study from the total sample. The author found that sport tourists tended to be younger (18-27 years old) than the total sample (34-45 years old). In addition, the author discovered that sport tourists differed from other tourists in terms of gender, marital status, level of education, and number of vacations per year. Sport tourists tended to be male, single, with higher level of education and took more vacations than other tourists in the study. In the study, the author discovered that sport tourists preferred destinations which possessed the following attributes : outdoors, deserted, active, modern, risky, quiet and domestic.
The two studies conducted by Gibson (1994) and Attle (1996) showed that the participant sport tourists are more likely to be : ( 1) males, (2) young individuals (18-27 years old), (3) single, (4) highly educated, (5) employed full-time, and (6) earned a high income. However, the relationship between sport tourism with race has not been investigated. Are there differences between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians with respect to preference for the role of sport tourism? In addition, the psychographic factors which motivate people to seek sport-oriented vacations have not been addressed. Thus, this study seeks to address the following research questions :
1. To what extent can the role of the participant sport tourists be explained by age, gender, race, marital status and employment status?
2. To what extent can the role of the participant sport tourists be explained by the need for stimulation, novelty, excitement, quiet and action?
Definition of Terms
Sport tourist : Temporary visitor staying at least twenty-four hours in the site visited and the purpose of whose journey is to attend sport related events.
Demographic Characteristics : Variables that include age, gender, race, marital status and employment status of the participant sport tourists.
Psychographic Characteristics : Needs of the participant sport tourists in terms of stimulation, novelty, action, tranquility and excitement.
There are several threats to the internal validity of this study. Although the validity of the instrument has been established, there may be threats to the internal validity of the study as a function of how the respondents filled out the questionnaire. As with any self administered questionnaire there is always the possibility that respondents may provide perfunctory answers. A worse possibility is that some respondents may provide false information in an effort to confound the efforts of the researcher. Conversely, an advantage of using self administered questionnaires is that respondents may be more likely to give accurate responses due to the anonymity of the process.
The sample for the present study was not randomly drawn. A convenience sample was used instead. This is a very important threat for the external validity of the study to the extent that the findings can be generalized in larger populations. Under different circumstances (more time available), a random sample would increase the generalizability and the applicability of the findings. By using data collected form areas with great variety in terms of peoples ethnic and racial backgrounds, we tried to minimize the effect of that threat (purposive sampling).
2. Review of Literature
Kurtzman and Zauhar (1993) talked about the use of sport as touristic endeavor and the philosophical and entrepreneurial development that it had during the nineties. The Sport Tourism phenomenon has been evidenced due to the worldwide popularity of sports events, such as the Olympic Games and professional super championships. Also, it is a well-known fact that sports fans have a tendency to follow their favorite teams and sport stars. At the same time, in North America and other developed countries, the concept of health through physical activities at all age levels sparked renewed interest in a variety of physical activity participation. According to Kurtzman (1990) there are important connections between sport and tourism, their contribution to the development plans, and their role in promoting domestic, national, international friendship and understanding among people and communities. Kurtzman (1991) also claims that entrepreneurs guided by the upcoming trend of global mobility have increased the number of sport tours, developed sport-specific resort destinations and initiated sport theme parks, promoted "tourism" sporting events, established specialized sport cruises and added sports activity facilities and programs to hotels/resorts. Sports attractions have looked to tourism for profitability purposes, establishing a transition to marketing niche for tourism sport activities.
Nogawa, Yamaguchi, and Hagi (1996) conducted a study on the characteristics of Japanese sport tourists. In the study, the authors examined the demographic factors, motivating factors, traveling styles, and touristic activities of participants who attended a skiing and walking event in Japan. With respect to demographic factors, the authors discovered that most participants in skiing were males (59.2%), married (57.4%), four-year college educated (38.4%), and between the ages of 20-39 years old (51.2%). In the walking event, the majority of participants were males (68.7%), married (79.2%), high school educated (35.1%), and over 50 years old (59%). The authors discovered health/fitness and challenge as the main motivational factors of event participation in both events (skiing and walking).With respect to traveling styles, Nogawa et. al. (1996) discovered that single-overnight participants tend to travel in a large group while multiple-night participants traveled alone. The authors attributed the findings to the difficulty for those traveling with friends or family members to take long vacations. In other words, tourists traveling alone will be more likely to take longer vacations than tourists traveling in large groups. Besides engaging in sport-related activities while on vacation, the authors discovered that sport tourists participated in other non-sporting activities such as sightseeing, visiting historic sites, and visiting theme parks. These findings suggest that there might be some overlap or similarities between sport tourism with other tourist roles such as the organized mass tourist or the educational mass tourist.
De Knop (1987) suggested several elements that influenced the popularity of sport-oriented vacations. One element suggested by the author was urbanization. According to De Knop (1987), as a result of social isolation and negative aspects of modern urban society, individuals have developed several needs such as the need to escape from daily problems, the need for self-respect, expression of love for family, need for safety, and the need for social contacts. The author believed that sport-oriented vacations are suitable for the satisfaction of these needs. For example, sport activities such as mountain climbing or hiking can give people the chance to forget about their daily problems and to escape from reality. In addition, sport-oriented vacations can involve the whole family and make social contacts possible. The author also attributed the popularity of sport-oriented vacations to changing social elements such as human behavior, income, education and amount of free time. For example, De Knop (1987) suggested that individuals are now more conscious about their health and physical well-being. As a result of this attitude, going on vacations with the idea of doing nothing is no longer popular. Instead, more people now prefer "active holidays" such as sport oriented vacations because sporting activities have been shown to improve one's health and physical well-being. De Knop (1987) suggested six different categories of sport tourists. The first category (S-type) consists of passive individuals who prefer vacationing in places near the sea with a lot of sun. The F-type sport tourists consist of individuals who are looking for fun, enjoyment and variety. W1-type individuals seek vacations in the wood. These individuals are conscious of their health and prefer holidays that involve movement and fresh air. W2-type tourists are individuals who prefer outdoor vacations that are competitive and that can give them a good work-out. A-type tourists prefer sport oriented vacations with some element of danger, adventure and surprise. V-type tourists are the spectator sport tourists who prefer vacations which are educational and provide them the opportunity to learn the history and culture of a destination in terms sport events (ancient olympics), or sport practice (birth place of tennis).
Few studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between race and tourist behavior. One of the few studies was conducted by Philipp (1994) who examined the tourist behavior of Blacks and Whites. In the study, Blacks and Whites were tested on their travel styles based on the following tourist preference categories : (1) activity versus relaxation, (2) dependence versus autonomy, (3) order versus disorder, and (4) familiarity versus novelty. The author reported significant difference between Blacks and Whites in terms of the following : dependence, activity, disorder, familiarity and novelty. Blacks showed greater interest traveling in large groups and preferred to visit eat and stay at familiar places. Whites were discovered to prefer novelty and disorder in their vacation activities. In additions, Whites preferred to travel individually or in smaller groups. According to Philipp (1994), the marginality-ethnicity theory is often used to explain racial differences in leisure activities. The marginality theory suggests that Blacks differ from Whites in terms of leisure activities because of the disparity in income and economic status. The ethnicity suggests that Blacks are different from Whites because of cultural differences. However, by controlling the effects of socioeconomic variables such as income, Philipp (1994) discovered that differences in tourist behavior between Blacks and Whites were not due to economic disparity as the marginality suggests. In addition, the author did not attribute the racial differences to cultural factors. Instead, Philipp (1994) suggested that Blacks differ from Whites in terms of travel behavior because prejudice and discrimination against Blacks. According to the author, Blacks often view the world as a hostile place as a result of discrimination directed against Blacks. For security reasons, Blacks prefer to travel in large groups and visit familiar places. On the other hand, Whites prefer novelty in their tourist destinations and activities because they are less threatened by prejudice and discrimination.
3. Methods and Procedures
A survey research design and specifically the method of self administered questionnaires was used in the study.
Data for the study were collected during the last week of March 1998. The subjects were comprised of a convenience sample of 200 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Connecticut. A summary of the sample characteristics is presented in Table 1.
Table 1 : Demographic Breakdown
Male 106 (53.0%)
Female 94 (47.0%)
Whites 140 (70.0%)
Blacks 14 (7.0%)
Hispanics 7 (3.5%)
Asians 37 (18.5%)
Others 2 (1.0%)
Mean Age 26.49 Std Dev 6.05 Min 18.00 Max 46.00
To increase the external vaidityof the study, including enough subjects from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, part of the data were collected from foreign students staying at the graduate dormitories and students staying at an off-campus apartment complex (purposive sampling).
The tourist role preference scale developed by Yiannakis (1986) was used as the instrument for the study. The first part of the instrument consists of 28 statements measuring 14 tourist roles. From the 28 statements, the following 2 items were used by Yiannakis (1986) to measure the role of the sport lover :
Question 14 : I mostly stay physically active engaging in my favorite sports.
Question 28 : I go on vacation mostly to engage in my favorite sports (e.g. tennis,
sailing, golf, skiing, hunting, etc.).
In addition to the original two items, this study also used two other items in the questionnaire to measure the role of the participant sport tourist.
Question 6 : I mostly participate in activities involving an element of risk such as
sky diving, rock climbing or ski jumping.
Question 7 : I mostly go on adventure travel such as a hike down the Grand
Canyon, jungle treks, and the like.
These items were originally used by Yiannakis (1986) to measure the role of thrill seeker and explorer but were included in this study to measure the role of the sport tourist because the two items contain statements that describe the activities of the sport tourists such as sky diving, rock climbing, hiking and ski jumping. The second part of the instrument contains several psychographic questions. Subjects were asked to rate whether they experienced positive stimulation or excitement in their life. In addition, the subjects were asked if they are happiest : 1) when there is action in their life, 2) when things are quiet, 3) when there is novelty, and 4) when things move slowly. The third part of the instrument contains several demographic questions. In this section, subjects were asked to provide information regarding their age, race, gender, marital status, and employment status.
Subjects were asked to answer "yes" or "no" to the four statements measuring the role of the sport tourists. A total score on all 4 sport tourist question items will be generated by giving a value of '0' to those who answer "no" and a value of '1' to those answering "yes" to each question. From the total score, it is possible to examine the relative strength for the preference for sport tourism.
Two different methods were used to analyze the data in this study:
a. crosstabulation was done between the role of the sport lover with age gender and race.
b. logistic regression analysis was performed to examine whether high and low preference for the sport lover role can be differentiated on the basis of age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, employment status, need for novelty, need for stimulation, and need for excitement.
4. Results and Analysis
Subjects were asked to answer "yes" or "no" to the four statements measuring the role of the sport tourist. A total score on all 4 sport tourist question items was generated by giving a value of '0' to those who answer "no" and a value of '1' to those answering "yes" to each question. From the total score, it is possible to examine the relative strength for the preference for sport tourism as shown in Table 2. In this study, 67 subjects (33.5%) answered "no" to all four questions. This group represents individuals who showed no preference for the role of the sport tourist. The second category contains subjects who answered "yes" to one of the four questions. This group (51 subjects, 25.5%) represents individuals with a low preference for the role of the sport tourist. The third category (39 subjects, 19.5%) contains subjects who responded "yes" to two of the four questions. This group represents individuals with a medium preference for sport tourism. Individuals with a high preference for sport tourism (28 subjects, 14.0%) are those individuals who answered "yes" to three of the four questions. Only 15 subjects (7.5%) answered "yes" to all four questions. This group of individuals represent those with a very high preference for the role of the sport tourist.
Table 2 : Total scores on the sport tourist question items
Data analysis was performed by combining those with high, moderate, low and very low preference for sport tourism into one group (133 subjects, 66.5%) and those with no preference (67 subjects, 33.5%) for sport tourism into another group. Crosstabulation was done for the first group (those with some preference for sport tourism) with the variables age and gender. This allows for a visual examination of the interest in the role of sport tourists between males and females during the early adulthood life stages (17 to 45 years old) as shown in Figure 1. Males (86.5%) show a slightly higher preference for sport tourism than females (76.7%) in the 17-22 age group. Interest in sport tourism declines slightly for both males and females in the 23-27, 28-33 and 34-39 age groups. In the 40-45 age group, interest in sport tourism is highest for males (100%) but lowest for females (25%).
Figure 1 : Patterns of preference for the role of Sport Tourist among men and women over the Early Adulthood stage
Table 3 shows the crosstabulation between the role of sport tourist with the variable race. The result shows that Hispanics (71.4%) and Whites (70%) show a greater preference for the role of sport tourist than Blacks (64.3%) and Asians (54.1%). Logistic regression was performed to examine whether preference and non-preference for sport tourism can be differentiated on the basis of demographic variables (age, gender, marital status, and employment status) and psychographic variables (level of stimulation experience, need for novelty, quiet, and action). The result is shown in Table 4.
Table 3 : Sport Tourists by Race
Table 4 : Variables which predict sport tourists using logistic regression
The variables age, action and stimulation were found to be significant (p < 0.05). This shows that a sport tourist can be differentiated from a non-sport tourist on the basis of age, need for action and the level of stimulation experienced by a person. The negative beta coefficient for age indicates that younger individuals are more likely to participate in sport tourism than older individuals. The positive beta coefficient for stimulation suggests that individuals who prefer the role of the sport tourists are individuals who are experiencing a lot of positive stimulation in their life. The result also shows that sport tourists are more likely to be those who seek a lot of action and excitement in their life. Model Chi-Square was significant (p < 0.01) indicating that all the predictors as a set significantly differentiate sport tourists from non-sport tourists. Using the demographic and psychographic variables in this model, it is possible to accurately identify a sport tourist with a 75.5% success rate.
The findings of this study provide some evidence to the popularity of sport tourism. Almost two-thirds of the subjects (66.5%) surveyed in this study preferred sport oriented vacations. From this figure, a substantial number (21.5%) of the subjects indicated strong preference for the role of the sport tourists. With respect to race, it was discovered that the majority of Whites, Blacks, Asians and Hispanics preferred the role of the sport tourist. This suggest that sport tourism is popular with all the ethnic groups. In this study, it was discovered that Whites and Hispanics showed the highest preference for sport tourism. This finding appears consistent with Philipp's (1994) suggestion that Whites are more likely than Blacks to prefer novelty and disorder in terms of vacation activities. Certainly, sport oriented vacations have some elements of novelty, risk and disorder which probably attract more Whites and Hispanics to engage in the role of the sport tourist. However, the high percentage of Blacks and Asians in choosing the role of the sport tourist showed that sport tourism is gaining in popularity among the two ethnic groups.
Both males and females in this study showed a strong preference for sport tourism in the 17-22 age group but interest gradually declines until the 34-39 age group. This suggests that participation in sport tourism is related to the age of the individual and younger individuals will be more likely to participate in sport oriented vacations than older individuals. The decrease in interest for the role of the sport tourist over the life course is consistent with Gibson's (1994) findings which she attributed to the changing needs of the individual over the life course. According to Gibson (1994), individuals in the 17-22 age group are more likely to explore and experiment with the possibilities of adult life. Perhaps this desire to explore drives individuals in this age group to choose tourist roles that are vigorous, exciting, and adventurous, such as the sport tourist role. However, as the individual grows older and builds more stable life structures, the willingness to explore diminishes. Hence, preference for vigorous and adventurous activities will most likely decline as the individual grows older. An interesting finding in this study is the discovery that males and females showed different patterns of interest in sport tourism during Mid-life transition (40-45 age group). In this age group, males was discovered to show the highest interest in sport tourism, while interest among females were discovered to be the lowest. This pattern suggests that for males, there is a renewed interest in sport tourism in the 40-45 age group. In the case of females, interest for sport tourism continues to decline. It is possible that males will remain active in some form of sport tourism as they grow older. Certainly, it is possible that males in 40-45 age group will continue to participate in a some form of sport tourism such as taking a vacation to go yachting or golfing. On the other hand, women in this age group are more likely to go on vacation with their children and women will prefer tourist roles that are less risky, safe and more family oriented such as the organized mass tourist role.
In this study, the psychographic variable "need for action" was discovered to be a significant variable which motivates people to seek sport-oriented vacations. In addition, sport tourists in this study were discovered to experience significantly higher levels of stimulation in their life than non-sport tourists. Since the majority of the subjects in this study were students, it is possible that the sport tourists in this study are currently experiencing a high level of stimulation in their life due to the pressure of academic life. As a result of pressure and stress, these students have developed a high need for action in order to escape from the stress or to reduce and balance the high levels of stimulation they are currently experiencing. Thus, it is possible that these students seek "active holidays" such as sport-oriented vacations in order to reduce the high levels of stimulation they are experiencing. The present findings are consistent with De Knop's (1987) suggestion that as a result of urbanization, people developed a need for "active holidays" and will seek sport-oriented vacations in order to satisfy this need. According to De Knop (1987), engaging in sport activities while on vacation, such as mountain climbing or hiking, can give people the chance to forget about their daily problems and to escape from reality.
An understanding of the characteristics of the sport tourists should enable tourism marketers to be more accurate in terms of identifying the target market and developing strategic plans to attract sport tourists to come to a particular destination. The results of this study showed that marketers should segment the market on the basis of the demographic variables race and age, and psychographic variables need for action and levels of stimulation. The results of this study showed that Whites and Hispanics are more likely to prefer sport oriented vacations than Blacks or Asians. In addition, more males and females between the ages of 17-22 were discovered to seek sport oriented vacations than individuals in other age groups. Tourism marketers should also pay attention to males in the Mid-life transition stage because males in this 40-45 years were discovered to show a strong interest in sport tourism. Marketers should also promote more sport-oriented vacations to college students. Not only college students will be more likely be in the 17-22 age group, this study showed that students experienced a high level of stimulation and will seek sport oriented vacations in order to satisfy their need for action and to escape the stress and pressure of academic life.
Even though the results of this study supported the findings of earlier research conducted by Gibson (1994), De Knop (1987), and Philipp (1994) more research is needed in the area of sport tourism. For example, this study and others have focused on the participant sport tourist. On the other hand, little is known with respect to the characteristics of the spectator sport tourist. Is the spectator sport tourist different from the participant sport tourist? Certainly, an answer to this question will enable us to have a better understanding of the characteristics of the sport tourist.
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