The relationship between travel motives, service levels and satisfaction of nature–base [i.e.nature–based] tourist [i.e. tourists]
The literature review on tourist satisfaction revealed that a satisfied tourist leads to positive word of mouth recommendation to friends and family, loyalty (return visits), competitive advantage and long-term profitability and sustainability. These favourable benefits resulting from satisfaction are necessary for any destination to survive in the competitive tourism industry. The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) is one of 21 national parks in South Africa and is managed by SANParks. Data captured from visitors to the (AENP) was used to achieve the objective of this study. As national, regional, local and privately owned parks (private game farms) strive to increase their share in the international and national market, it is important to understand why visitors return to a certain destination and the role service plays in the return decision. Literature on satisfaction identified two components that contribute to return visits. These were service (delivering quality service) and travel motivation (why people travel to a certain destination). The aim of this research was to determine the relationship between satisfaction, service and travel motivations of the visitors to the AENP. To achieve this, data captured from 2005-2007 by the Institute for Tourism and Leisure Studies on the AENP was firstly used to determine the visitors? profile and, secondly, to apply factor analyses and the t-test. The factor analyses were applied and, in both cases, four factors were identified. In the case of the service factors, hospitality services, general services, activities, and infrastructure disseminations were found and, in the case of travel motivation factors, learning experience, activities and events, escape and family socialising. The t-tests were used to determine whether or not visitors' expectations were met. This was also used to determine the relationship between travel motives, service and satisfaction of the visitors to the AENP. Findings indicated that the visitors whose primary travel motivation expectations were met rated the services higher than visitors whose primary travel motivation expectations were not met. The research therefore confirmed that there is a relationship between service and travel motivation. In terms of visitors' satisfaction, the relevance of the relationship between travel motives and service is lower if the visitors' primary travel needs are met, with a higher relevance of the relationship if the primary travel needs are not met. Park management can use these results as tools to ensure that the product offered guarantees visitors' satisfaction and therefore contributes to long-term park sustainability. Therefore park management can obtain the ideal tourist experience by not only focusing on the travel motives but also on the quality of service delivered at the park.