Travel motives of tourists to selected national parks in South Africa
The tourism industry is becoming increasingly more competitive, making it essential for tourism destinations to understand why tourists travel to specific destinations. Travel motives are seen as important factors affecting tourist behaviour. Understanding the travel motives of tourists is essential information for the development of a tourism product and its marketing strategy. Tourists to different destinations have different internal reasons for doing so, and wish to fulfil certain needs. These needs motivate tourists to choose a certain destination and, therefore, identifying the travel motives of tourists to tourism destinations will help the destination to better target their marketing strategies to tourists with common motives. The aim of this study is to determine the travel motives of tourists to selected national parks in South Africa as well as to determine whether there are differences and/or similarities between these motives. The parks concerned are the Addo Elephant-, Augrabies Falls- and Golden Gate Highlands National Parks. This will assist SANParks in their future marketing efforts and help to better understand why the tourists choose to visit the respective parks. A literature review regarding tourist behaviour was carried out to achieve Objective 1, which was to conduct a theoretical analysis of tourist behaviour. The primary reasons for understanding tourist behaviour are to be able to retain your customer for life, to fulfil the tourists’ needs and to develop better target marketing strategies. To understand tourists’ travel motives better, studying tourist behaviour becomes important. The tourist’s decision-making process (that forms part of the tourism behaviour model) is divided into six stages. These are, awareness of a need; seeking information; evaluation of information; decision making; action or buying and postpurchase evaluation. The tourist behaviour model consists of a number of factors that influence this decision-making process, including internal (for example perception, learning and motivation) and external (for example culture, social class and family) influences as well as personal (race, gender and age) and market-related (climate, economy and government) influencers. The most important influence relevant to this study is motivation. To achieve Objective 2, which was to conduct a theoretical analysis of travel motives of tourists to nature based products, a literature review concerning the travel motives of tourists was carried out. This revealed that a number of different travel motives to tourism destinations have been identified. Internal needs motivate tourists to travel to specific destinations, in the hope of fulfilling these needs. Research on travel motives is based on a number of theories, and some of the important motives that arose were: nature, wildlife, escape, relaxation, education, novelty, socialisation, family recreation and destination attractions. In conclusion, there are similarities as well as differences in the travel motives of tourists to different natural areas. Objectives 3 and 4 included determining the profiles as well as the travel motives of tourists to the selected national parks. Secondary data was used to determine the profiles and travel motives of the tourists. The first section focused on the profiles of the tourists, which proved to be quite similar in all three parks, with minor differences regarding province of residence and the languages spoken. The second section focused on the travel motives of these tourists, and a factor analysis was used to extract six factors from the data. These factors were: relax and socialise, park attractions, nature and wildlife, knowledge-seeking, photography and park activities. The factors of tourists to each park were compared by means of a practical significance test (ANOVA) to determine the differences in travel motives to each park. The results revealed that certain travel motives were more important to certain of the three selected national parks, for example: knowledge-seeking is more important to tourists visiting the Addo Elephant National Park, relax and socialise is more important to tourists visiting the Augrabies Falls National Park, and park activities are more important to tourists visiting the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. By determining the differences and similarities in travel motives to the three selected national parks, the aim of this study was achieved. The results are in agreement with other researchers’ findings that there are a number of travel motives motivating tourists to visit certain destinations, and this study determined that these motives differ from destination to destination.