The general interest in the reasons why human beings are involved in certain activities has not passed tourism research by (Parrinello 1993). Discovering why tourists do certain thing is relevant for (at least) two interrelated reasons: the management of tourism and academic investigation (Haukeland 1992; Yuan and McDonald 1990). A number of studies have established relationships between tourist motivation and various aspects of behaviour relevant to tourism management as well as its theoretical understanding. Examples of such behaviour are the choice of destination and mode of travel (Pearce and Caltabiano 1983), expectations (Rekom 1994), and information sources used (Kim, Weaver, and McCleary 1996).
Understanding motivations is also seen as an important aspect of the academic investigation of tourism. From the early days of tourism research, scholars have looked at the reasons for people being involved in tourist activities (Todd 1999). Cohen (1974), for example, related reasons for travelling and the purpose of the trip, while trying to answer the question â€œWho is a tourist?â€ The relative importance of the concept of motivation for tourism research and management can also be illustrated by the fact that researchers, when attempting to provide a working definition for â€œtouristâ€ or â€œtourism,â€ commonly relate to the motives for the travel (Leiper 1979).
Iso-Ahola (1982) looked at motivation in terms of escape seeking (again mainly in the context of pleasure tourism). Pearce (1996) has also provided a theoretical framework for the understanding of motivation, suggesting a fivefold hierarchical system distinguishing between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Gnoth (1997, p. 283) relied on â€œthe behaviourist notion of drive reduction and the cognitive construction of attitudes and valuesâ€ to develop a theoretical background by emphasizing the holidaymakerâ€™s perspective. Although there is now a body of research centred on touristsâ€™ motivation, Dannâ€™s (1981) suggestion may still be relevant. Basically, he questioned whether researchers were investigating the same concept when exploring tourism motivation. Jafari (1987, p. 152) originally argued that â€œthere is already a wide range of literature dealing with such motivational propositions, but no common understanding has emerged,â€ the point is still valid. This reflects a notion that can be found even in disciplines such as psychology on which tourism researchers often rely for their theoretical background (Iso-Ahola 1989).