Tourism Management 27 (2006) 183–200

Conceptualizing special interest tourism—frameworks for analysis
Birgit TrauerÃ
School of Tourism and Leisure Management, University of Queensland, Ipswich Campus, 11 Salisbury Road, Ipswich, Qld 4305, Australia Received 8 July 2003; accepted 21 October 2004

Abstract To advance understanding of Special Interest Tourism (SIT), this paper will explore the complexities of this phenomenon in the early 21st century. First, a look at what is ‘‘out there’’, both from a supply and demand perspective, will serve to paint a broad picture at macro-level. The paper will present a discussion of the SIT phenomenon at the macro-level within a triangular relationship of supply, demand and media. Then, a more specific look at SIT attempts to clarify the ambiguity of the term. Finally, a look at micro-level from the consumer’s perspective will introduce the concepts of enduring and situational involvement, and the nature of the product. Proposed frameworks are presented to provide structure and possible directions for future research and as a means of progressing conceptual development. r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Special interest tourism; Adventure tourism; Tourist experiences; Involvement; Market segmentation; Typologies

1. Introduction Tourism consumption patterns and the growth of ‘‘special interest tourism’’ (SIT) are thought to reflect the continuously increasing diversity of leisure interests of the late-modern leisure society (Douglas, Douglas, & Derret, 2001). According to Opaschowski (2001, p. 1), who refers to vacations in the 21st century as ‘‘Das gekaufte Paradies’’ (the bought paradise), the tourism industry is increasingly subsuming the identity of an ‘‘experience industry’’, with tourists willing to pay tourism organizers to help find optimal experiences within the limited time available. Furthermore, Opaschowski (2001) suggests that tourists are looking for emotional stimuli, they want to buy feelings and not products. They want to personally experience the immaterial qualities, seeking ambiance, aesthetics and atmosphere, looking for an experience full of varying intimacies, intensities and complexities. The nature of the tourism experience exists within a dynamic local to global context and thus, as Varley and Crowther (1998,
ÃTel.: +61 7 3381 1010; fax: +61 7 3381 1012.

E-mail address: (B. Trauer). 0261-5177/$ - see front matter r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2004.10.004

p. 316) point out: ‘‘successfully providing the creative space for the consumer’s aesthetic personal projects to unfold is surely the challenge facing the late-modern entrepreneur’’. According to Read (cited in Hall & Weiler, 1992, p. 5), the phenomenon coined ‘‘SIT’’ emerged as a major force in the 1980s. However, as Hlavin–Schulze (1998a, b) points out quite succinctly, ‘‘alles schon mal dagewesen’’ (everything has existed before). The Grand Tour, The Olympics and overland expeditions spring to mind immediately with regard to their historical context. Douglas et al. (2001, p. 2) state that a multiplicity of terms have emerged, including ‘‘alternative’’, ‘‘sustainable’’, ‘‘appropriate’’, ‘‘new’’, ‘‘responsible’’ and ‘‘ego tourism’’ to capture the underpinning notions of ‘‘serious leisure and tourism’’. They point out that there is an underlying ambiguity in all terms, including the new term of ‘‘SIT’’, in that tourism denotes mass participation while ‘‘special interest’’ suggests non-commercialized individual travel. To advance the understanding of this phenomenon of SIT in the 21st century, this paper will explore the complexities of SIT. First, a look at what is ‘‘out there’’, both from a supply and demand perspective, will serve

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to paint a broad picture at the macro-level. The paper will present a discussion of the SIT phenomenon at the macro-level within a triangular relationship of supply, demand and media. Then, a more specific look attempts to clarify the ambiguity of the term. Finally, a look at the micro-level from the consumer’s perspective will introduce the concepts enduring and situational involvement. Proposed frameworks are presented to provide structure and possible directions for future research.

arousing, with the individual believing that (a) she/he has enough ability to succeed at the task and (b) possessing a positive role in sustaining the quality of one’s life and promote personal growth. In short, to repeat, experiences are sold on the premise of being life enhancing.

3. Special interest tourism demand Various authors, therefore, point towards people’s desire for quality of life and escape from the ‘‘pluralisation of lifeworlds’’, and ‘‘rationalization of contemporary urban life’’ as major push factors and motivators for travel (Giddens, 1999; Habermas, 1987; Horne, 1994; Rojek & Urry, 1997). According to the World Tourism Organization (1985, cited in Hall & Weiler, 1992, p. 1), tourism consumption patterns reflect the increasing diversity of interests of the late-modern leisure society with ‘‘SIT’’ having emerged, reflecting the new values which include ‘‘increased importance of outdoor activities, awareness of ecological problems, educational advances, aesthetic judgement and improvement of self and society’’. However, this ‘‘self-improvement’’ and ‘‘concern for society’’ is questioned. While tourists, for instance, may aspire to adventure and sport images that are related to Heros, to Olympians, to environmental or cultural specialists of high achievement, they also may visit destinations and participate in activities as a status symbol (Beedie, 2003; McKercher & du Cros, 2002). Indeed, Morgan and Pritchard (1999) argue that tourism prefixed with specific descriptors, such as ecotourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism and ‘‘SIT’’, serve to indicate qualitative difference from those of mass tourism, thereby ‘‘promoting socially just forms of tourism’’ that meet tourists’’ needs to engage in modes of behaviour that, at best, again, enhance sense of self, and at worst, may be ‘‘justified’’ as being socially responsible (Morgan & Pritchard, 1999, p. 53). Similarly, Hlavin-Schulze (1998a, b) suggests that individuals increasingly adjust their needs and desires based on images of societal behaviour that ‘‘promises’’ societal acceptance. Opaschowski (2001) goes as far as to propose that holidays no longer just facilitate the ‘‘traditional’’ escape of tourists from ‘‘dem Alltag’’ (daily living), but rather the search for personal life fulfillment, happiness, ‘‘paradise’’ and has become a highlight of leisure, part of quality of life. However, as he points out ‘‘just as paradise does not have a specific place, so does happiness not have a specific time’’ (p. 7). According to Wearing (2002, p. 243), the tourist in the 21st century is ‘‘searching for new and exciting forms of travel in defiance of a mass-produced product’’ yet without ‘‘actually having to involve themselves in any way’’, a reflection of increasing commodification and depersonalization within modern and post-modern

2. The tourism product—supply SIT was seen as a ‘‘prime force in the expansion of tourism’’ by Read in 1980 (cited in Hall & Weiler, 1992, p. 5) with the product range having expanded from that of a boutique product to a mainstream offering. ‘‘Special interests’’ can be found on web pages either by checking the list of special interests/activities (e.g. sport, wine, culture, painting, adventure, opera, battlefields), or by geographical area (e.g. Asia, Europe) of interest and/or affinity groups (e.g. Seniors, women, gay), with tour operators catering for every special interest around the world. Weber (2001) makes the point, along with Walle (1997), that practitioners appear to have caught on to the notion of differentiation or specialization by originally catering for a relatively small part of the market (niche market) with very special needs, even before scholars started to consider the concepts in debate. Initially SIT organizations were perceived to have focused on rather homogeneously considered groups of customers such as in adventure tourism, eco-tourism, sport tourism and cultural tourism for tourists seeking the ‘‘hard or specialized’’ end of the market, being ‘‘serious leisure participants’’ (Weiler & Hall, 1992; Stebbins, 1982). However, it is now apparent that operators have diversified their offerings to attract the large market segment of the ‘‘soft’’ or ‘‘novice’’ end of the spectrum, and intervening stages, either based on their own expertise within the field of special interest or their awareness of the growing latent and salient consumer demand (Douglas et al., 2001; Morgan and Pritchard, 1999). A constant reciprocal exchange between supply and demand influences the evolvement, growth and access to new leisure and tourism experiences (Strasdas, 1994). Technology, time squeeze, space contraction, affluence and increased availability of leisure equipment and travel products have impacted on leisure and travel trends and diversified activities and destinations from the ‘‘old’’ to the ‘‘new’’ (Beedie, 2003; Strasdas, 1994). Consequently, it becomes possible to ‘‘re-package’’ in ways within which, according to Ewert (1989a, 2000), an environment may contain the appropriate mix of new or old activities done in a new way to be optimally

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society (Beck, 1999; Giddens, 1999; MacCannell, 1976). Commodification has changed tourism experiences in the 21st century from that of the traditional search for the totally unknown, the utmost challenging and dangerous to that of safety and comfort, to that of ‘‘gaze’’ but also embodiement beyond individual’s onsite experience (Cater, 2000; Opaschowski, 2001; Urry, 1990). As Smail (1993, p. 63) notes, ‘‘A person is partly body, certainly, but is also partly environment’’ and thus the tourist interacts with and is influenced by places visited and the people met at those places. However, the tourist also brings with him/her images and myths associations as portrayed in the multiplicity of media and other sources which transform and individualize the tourist experience (Rojek & Urry, 1997). Adventure tourism for instance is regarded by Cater (2000) as commodification of ‘‘embodied human experiences’’ that are marketed and managed to cater for a spectrum of consumers within a framework of myth and dramatic story line.

4. Special interest tourism—part of an interdisciplinary system Commercial product supply is differentiated upon patterns of perceived demand segments that in turn are located within social and environmental characteristics, both embracing and attracting the participant (Weber, 2001). When attempting to come to terms with what SIT represents, two major interpretation frameworks stand out: the psycho-sociological, which comes from the perspective of the tourist, and the economic which is based on the pragmatic operational approach (Collier, 1997; Dreyer, 1995; Pigeassou, 1997). SIT, it is suggested, should be viewed as part of a system, an
Provides ‘signs’ of ‘Special Interest

interdisciplinary system, which comprises the overall environment (local to global), the tourist demand system, the tourism industry supply system with the media being conceptualized as a major influencer on tourism in the 21st century, (see Fig. 1). It is the merging of all these components that make up SIT. The overall system is representative of political, economical, ecological, technological, and socio-economical and socio-cultural concerns, at local to global level. The tourism industry supply system is made up of tourism places/destinations, the travel and tourism organizers/operators, travel agents, accommodation businesses, transport, and SIT facilities and infrastructure. The tourist demand system consists of the individual’s financial situation, possession or access to necessary tourism activity equipment, the cognitive determinants (perception, awareness and learning), activating determinants (emotions, needs, motives, attitudes, images), and personal characteristics (involvement, perceived risk, values) (Dreyer, 1995). The demand side is sub-divided into intra- and inter-personal components that recognize the internal and external motivational determinants for demand, including the desire to gain insight, and to use the resultant ‘‘selfimage’’ for peer approval (Celsi, Rose, & Leigh, 1993; Dreyer, 1995; Wearing, 2002). Narrative reflections recreate myths for and of the individual, they create meaning and ‘‘help us to remember that we are heroes in a big human adventure’’ (Bammel & Bammel, 1992, p. 364). It is not the activity and/or destination itself and the unfolding of the experience which determine the meaning for the individual of, for instance, adventure, but rather the individual’s perception and interpretation, the telling of ‘‘tall stories’’ (McIntyre & Roggenbuck, 1998). This narrative extends into adventure, sport or a specific

technology ecology Interpersonal Intrapersonal socialeconomy culture Media



Overall Environment = local national regional global

Tourism Demand System Special Interest Tourism
Fig. 1. SIT interactive system.

Tourism Supply System

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activity or destination as seen in the purchase of equipment, wearing of certain clothes and brands of participants’’ chosen peer reference groups. Their purchases are an inducement into a cult of ‘‘likeminded’’ activists, a symbol by which they recognize each other and the degree of commitment to that activity, be that commitment real or only contrived (Celsi et al., 1993). This includes guides and tourism operators, as the very media that help shape the demand for a product also help shape the design, presentation and representation of the product by those who supply it. They too are part of a closed system that fuses representation of places and action with the production and reproduction of tourism experiences.

5. Image creation/media Bartram (2001) argues that increased exposure of high-risk leisure in the media may indeed stimulate involvement in an activity such as mountaineering, which can evolve into a leisure or tourism career. Tourism brochures, magazines, books, film and television, all are media for the creation of images that fashion desires, wants and needs, creating anticipation and a way for tourists to envisage themselves in place and action. (Ateljevic & Doorne, 2002; Coulter, 2001; Hlavin-Schulze, 1998a; Kim & Richardson, 2003; Markwick, 2001; Nielsen, 2001; Wickens, 2002). Media pervades every intimate human space and thus can influence value creation, beliefs and attitudes (Trauer, 2002). It generates a possible cognitive and affective response—knowledge of, and familiarity with the activity and places within which it occurs, and an emotive response to those activities. The tourist comes to the tourism location with pre-conceived images within which they have allocated a role to him or herself (Ryan, 2003). The tourist tries to understand and relive these images by mirroring the representations during their holidays. Thus, tourism provides for a ritual or sacred journey to be performed at places with meanings imbued by the tourism industry and the wider media (Morgan, 1999; Rojek & Urry, 1997). Place images are founded on core images within established truths and myths as per historical literature and only change slowly in yet constantly shifting societal contexts. On the other hand, these images are also exposed to radical image-changes as new ones are being invented, disseminated and accepted through stereotyping, differentiation, commercialization and accessibility. Representation of places are collages of images, of experiences and metaphors, depicting a range of similes not only born of authenticity but enriched by ‘‘irrelevant’’ stimuli through entertainment and spectacle, with the spectacle becoming more spectacular, thrills more thrilling and the magic of nature more magical (Cloke &

Perkins, 1998; Rojek & Urry, 1997; Urry, 2000; Opaschowski, 2001). Tourism places no longer only present continuity in time and space with historical and biographical meaning but are instilled with physical and emotional sensations of a consumption-oriented society (Hlavin-Schulze, 1998b; Morgan, 1996, 1999; Urry, 2000). Images are interpreted and re-interpreted and generate perceived authenticity of place and action. Yet, the modern day tourist is not ignorant of the staging and liminality of holiday experiences. It is the creation and interpretation of images that are purchased, anticipated and consumed by the ‘‘experience hungry’’ tourists of the 21st century (Schulze, 1993). Now that a broader context for SIT has been established, the question arises: Apart from the products available and a society demanding special experiences, what is SIT and how can it be defined?

6. Special interest tourism definitions It is acknowledged that it is difficult, if not even impossible, to define tourism, or SIT in this case, in a manner acceptable to researchers across the spectrum of tourism disciplines and research approaches (Butler, 1999). However, in their original work on SIT, Hall and Weiler (1992, p. 5) proposed SIT to occur when the ‘‘traveler’s motivation and decision-making are primarily determined by a particular special interest with a focus either on activity/ies and/or destinations and settings’’. Swarbrook and Horner (1999, p. 38) expanded this definition by pointing out two perspectives of SIT. They suggest that the special interest tourist is motivated by a desire to ‘‘either indulge in an existing interest or develop a new interest in a novel or familiar location’’. They also stated that SIT is different to that of activity tourism by proposing that it involves ‘‘little or no physical exertion’’ (p. 38). Yet, it is argued, tourism with physical exertion such as in sport or adventure should be considered a special interest from the tourist’s perspective (Hall, 1992; Morpeth, 2001; Trauer, 1999a, b; Trauer, Ryan, & Lockyer, 2003). Another argument has also been that SIT is the opposite of mass’’ tourism with the focus on new forms of tourism that have the potential to meet the needs of tourists and hosts, including rural tourism, adventure and nature-based tourism, cultural and heritage tourism, and festival and event tourism. Douglas et al. (2001, p. 2) accordingly suggest that ‘‘SIT, or alternative tourism’’y.. has ‘‘emerged from concerns for the delivery of sustainable tourism’’. At the same time they present a definition of SIT by Derrett (2001, p. xvii) as ‘‘the provision of customized leisure and recreational experiences driven by the specific expressed interest of individuals and groups’’ (p. 4). It has been recognized that the term ‘‘SIT’’ comprises two major indicators: first, ‘‘special interest’’, which suggests a need to consider the

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leisure context; second, ‘‘tourism’’, pointing to the commercialization of leisure (Trauer, 1999a, b), which Poon (1997), (cited Douglas et al., 2001, p. 3) relates to as ‘‘new tourism’’y.. being ‘‘large-scale packaging of nonstandardized leisure services’’. This notion appears in the ATC’s publication ‘‘Special Interest Australia’’, describing Australia as ‘‘a land of adventure’’, providing the perfect context for the tourists ‘‘to pursue favourite pastimes and learn new skills’’, being ‘‘excellent value for money’’, and for the operator ‘‘to capitalize on a worldwide trend towards so-called experiential travel’’ (ATC, 1993, p. 2). The publication also entices the tourism operators to join their marketing program to set themselves apart from other operators.

7. The ‘‘Tourism Interest Cycle’’ Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) in their attempt to conceptualize and define SIT, reviewed literature within leisure and tourism, comparing existing typologies and frameworks, including those by de Grazia (1964), Kelly (1983) and Iso-Ahola (1983) in the leisure context, and Plog (1974—psychocentrics/allocentrics), Cohen (1972— explorer/drifter), Gray (1979—sunlust/wanderlust) and Dann (1977—push and pull factors) in the tourism context. With reference to Murphy (1985) and Mannell and Iso-Ahola (1987), they point out that while the leisure approach highlights the home-based lifestyle activities, the tourism typologies focus on destination choice. Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) concluded that neither appeared applicable to the concept of SIT, but pointed out that these were influential in their development of a theoretical framework. To set SIT in a broader overall tourism context, Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) suggest a ‘‘Tourism Interest Continuum’’. Based on Culligan’s framework, they propose that through increasing travel experience, confidence and affluence, a maturation or tourist life cycle transition from ‘‘safe to more adventurous kinds of travel and holidays’’ occurs, with the tourist ‘‘trading up’’ and purchasing social prestige and ego-enhancement. They put forward the notion that the questions a tourist would ask in the decision-making process are 


General Interest Tourism GIT—where would I like to go? Mixed Interest Tourism MIT—where do I want to go and what activities can I pursue there? SIT—what interest/activity do I want to pursue, and where can I do it?

According to Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997), the ‘‘Dabbler’’ is looking for a change from GIT and MIT and, depending on her/his attitude to risk, will be

seeking ‘‘fashionable’’ or ‘‘popular’’ products as a means of self-expression. On the other hand, for the ‘‘Expert’’ the activity is central in her/his overall life and leisure. Hence, the ‘‘Expert’’ in SIT is likely to choose their special interest holiday in accordance with their leisure interests and activities at home. Similar to the GIT, MIT and SIT premise by Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997), Hall (2003, p. 276) applies the concept of ‘‘primary’’, ‘‘secondary’’ and ‘‘subsidiary to other interests’’ motives within the context of health and spa tourism. This motivational approach is also apparent in the various typologies that have emanated from studies in various SIT segments, such as cultural tourism (Richards, 1996; Craik, 1997), educational tourism (informal to formal) (Arsenault, 1998, 2001; Arsenault & Anderson, 1998), bicycle tourism (Morpeth, 2001), and wine tourism (Charters & Ali-Knight, 2002). Typologies range from culturally attracted to culturally motivated tourists (based on a matrix of level of interest and depth of experience) (McKercher & du Cros, 2002), shallow to deep ecotourists (Acott, La Trobe, & Howard, 1998), and ‘‘hard’’ definition related to passive or active participation at an event at competitive level in sport tourism to ‘‘soft’’ definition referring to active participation at recreational level (Gammon & Robinson, 2003). Based on the above discussion, the following framework is suggested. The framework not only depicts the ‘‘tourism interest continuum’’ as suggested by Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997), but also highlights the need to acknowledge the overlap between MIT and SIT. It also distinguishes between the segment of geographical/ location nature, the accommodation/transport/theme segment, the affinity group segments, and SIT segments with a focus on activity, such as sport, and/or setting such as nature or architecture that could be a tourist’s hobby or recreational activity. It is argued that the potential exists for various special interests from within the SIT segment (e.g. sport, architecture, culture, opera, education) to be participated in within the other three categories. For instance, although event and cruise tourism can be the special focus of activity, events and cruises are further specialized by themes and interests such as sports events (e.g. World Masters, Americas Cup), classical music events (e.g. Salzburger Festspiele), and health and wellness cruises (Dimmock & Tryce, 2001; Douglas et al., 2001). Senior tourism also is a recognized segment of SIT, yet once again, despite the underpinning stereotypical affinity, a variety and different intensities of interests and activities amongst seniors exists (Ruyss & Wei, 2001). It is being acknowledged that multi-motivational decision-making processes underpin holiday choices (Ryan, 2003). Therefore, not all the time would a progression have to occur for participants, or a special

188 B. Trauer / Tourism Management 27 (2006) 183–200

General Interest Tourism (GIT)
Or Mass Tourism = Conventional large-scale tourism Focus: Where can I go on holidays?

Mixed Interest Tourism (MIT)
Focus: Where, how and/or with whom can I go on holidays and what activities can I pursue there?

Geographical Location Segments:
E.g. Regional tourism, Urban tourism, Rural tourism

Accommodation, Transport & Event Segments:
E.g. Resort, Cruise and Exhibition tourism

Affinity Group Segments:
E.g. Senior tourism Women’s tourism Gay tourism

Special Interest (Activity/Setting) Segments:
E.g. Environmental tourism - Cultural tourism Hobby tourism - Health and spa tourism - Sport tourism - Adventure tourism - Wine and food tourism - Sex tourism

Special Interest Tourism
What interest/activity do I want to pursue, and where can I do it? E.g: Adventure Tourism

E.g. Environmental

E.g. Adventure

E.g. Sport

e.g. ecotourism, nature-based tourism, wildlife tourism

e.g. backpacking (bushwalking), mountaineering, whitewater rafting, bicycle-touring, sailing, scuba diving, wildlife safari

e.g. golf, tennis, sailing, soccer, cycling, kayaking, scuba diving

Fig. 2. SIT Cycle. Based on Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997), Prosser (2001), Ruyss and Wei (2001), Schofield (2001).

interest always be pursued during holidays. But rather, a proviso is maintained within the suggested framework for individuals to be able to choose other types of interest tourism holidays (GIT, MIT) according to their needs and wants at various times. Also, although SIT segments are separated and discussed along specific descriptors, it is important to note that within the realm of tourism overall and SIT in particular, the segments at all levels are not necessarily mutually exclusive and often overlap (Hall, 1992, 2003). An example would be adventure tourism at SIT level, which includes adventurous sports activities such as sailing, mountain biking, and hang gliding (sport being denoted by ‘‘competition’’ compared to ‘‘risk’’ in adventure (Kruger, 1995)), and environmental tourism ¨ such as volunteer research expeditions with Earthwatch (which are not free but have to be paid for by the participants) to a remote location (see Fig. 2). The latter could also be classified as volunteer tourism (Wearing, 2002) or also senior tourism or educational tourism if this was marketed and facilitated accordingly and perceived as such by the participant/tourist Fig. 3.

Leisure (home based)

General Interest Tourism (GIT)

Mixed Interest Tourism (MIT)

Special Interest Tourism (SIT)
Fig. 3. ‘‘Leisure–Tourism Interest Cycle’’. Based on Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997), and Carr (2002).

8. The ‘‘Leisure-Tourism Interest Cycle’’ It is apparent by the definitions presented that SIT is a form of recreation. Kelly (1996, p. 281) argued that recreational tourism ‘‘is leisure on the move’’.

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(Carr, 2002) restates that tourism for pleasure and leisure are interconnected, similar to other authors including Butler (1999), and McKercher and Davidson (1996). Carr (2002, p. 976) describes these areas of academic study as ‘‘fuzzy sets with no sharp or accepted boundaries between them’’. He presents a continuum that includes tourist and residual culture, the latter being that of the home environment. This leads to an extension of the ‘‘Tourism Interest Cycle’’ as presented above into that of a ‘‘Leisure–Tourism Interest Cycle’’ with a potential cyclic feed back loop between leisure and tourism. Once again, it is highlighted that a progression would not have to occur for participants every time, but rather a flexible framework is suggested that facilitates a progression, not necessarily one of a hierarchical nature but rather in a flexible cyclical fashion.

the mid 1970s by Little (1976) and (Bryan, 1977, 1979, 2000), and was defined as selective channeling of interests and abilities into a specific area. Typically the participant would be spending a lot of time engaged in activities within the area of specialization or be infrequently but intensely involved. The participant typically would have advanced levels of knowledge, skill and experience within the special interest area and be gaining pleasure from and displaying interest in all areas of the specialization focus, be it activities, objects and events (Little, 1976, p. 12). (italics by author). For example, sport tourists’ level of specialization and involvement influence spectators attention to factors extraneous to the actual sport activity, such as sport advertising during games and events (Funk & James, 2002; Kruger, 1995; Laverie & Arnett, 2000). A holiday ¨ can also be viewed as an event, a personal project that requires time, thought and financial commitment by individuals living in industrialized post-modern societies that are time-poor and ‘‘experience hungry’’ (Opaschowski, 2001). Today as in the past, ‘‘travel to leisure and travel as leisure is recognized as something planned, hoped for and experienced by those who can afford it’’ (Kelly, 1996, p. 281). Tourism is part of the overall leisure industry, where the investment and desired outcomes in leisure services frequently are of an experiential and emotional nature (Schmidt, 1997). Stern (1997) pointed out that emotionally driven consumption with high levels of intangibility, which is characteristic of intense and extended service encounters as can be found in tourism generally and SIT specifically, should be viewed beyond behavioural indicators (e.g. visits to cultural sites) and differently from rational decision-making processes as applied in the choice of consumer products or services of functional nature. This assumption of ‘‘the goal-directed rational actor’’ has also been questioned by Giddens (1999), who suggests that ‘‘the reflexive project of the self’’ is not to be found in behaviour, nor—important as this is—in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going’’ (p. 54, cited in Kuentzel, 2000, p. 89)yy.which ‘‘must be sustained in the reflexive activities of the individual as he produces and reproduces the routine activities and order of everyday life’’ (Kuentzel, 2000, p. 89). The ‘‘Recreation Specialization Loop’’ (see Fig. 4) depicts a comprehensive perspective on recreation specialization (McIntyre, 1990). It emphasizes the affective as well as the behavioural and cognitive (such as previous experience and skill) and the level of involvement an individual has for their special interest. The three sub-components of the personal system of recreation specialization, the ‘‘behavioural, cognitive and affective, or enduring involvement’’, are potentially

9. Serious leisure, recreation specialization and enduring involvement As demonstrated and depicted in Fig. 1, there are two perspectives from which to analyse and define SIT, either from the consumer or the provider perspective. The approach taken in this paper at micro-level is that from the tourist perspective, because just as ‘‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’’, ‘‘special’’ lies in the experience of tourists. The discussion above emphasizes that, in order to add to the understanding of SIT and special interest tourists’’ experiences, an initial appreciation of leisure and recreation participation is deemed of value. According to studies of leisure/tourism motivations, people choose to participate in recreational activities to satisfy multiple needs (Ryan, 2003). In the case of SIT, these can relate to those influencing participation in their special interest or hobby and/or those of travel and tourism in general. With reference to Stebbins (1982, 1999), Bartram (2001, p. 5) states ‘‘Serious leisure is the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist, or volunteer activity, that is sufficiently rewarding despite the costs, such that participants find a career in the acquisition and expression of its special skills and knowledge.’’ Serious leisure requires ‘‘high investment’’ with sustained commitment to the development of knowledge and skills as well as ‘‘communicative interaction with the people most important to usy..It is a context for the development of relationships of trust, sharing, and intimacy’’ (Kelly & Godbey, 1992, p. 350). Apart from participatory, experiential and novelty oriented components of SIT experiences/products, the shared social or cultural worlds of the travelers can influence the positive or negative perception of an experience (Arnould, Price, & Tierney, 1998). The development of a special interest was originally examined in the context of recreation specialization in

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Selling Atribuites



COGNITIVE SYSTEM Mutually reinforcing recreation specialization PERSONAL SYSTEM

The Personal System’s Model emphasises the ‘embodiement’ of experiences (‘body, mind and soul’) by including the affective as well as behavioural and cognitive systems

Enduring Involvement (Laurent and Kapferer, 1985 -consumer behaviour) (multi-dimensional measure = 3 components)


Affective System (Little, 1976) Enduring Involvement

Centrality (fourth dimension added by McIntyre, 1989, 1990- recreation)

Prior Experience

Familianity Importance of product category Enjoyment derived from it Self-expression through product category Centrality to lifestyle

Fig. 4. The ‘‘Recreation Specialization’’ loop. (McIntyre, 1989, 1990, p. 42). Coloured additions and highlights to emphasize major discussion points in present paper.

mutually reinforcing and applicable to any individual (McIntyre, 1989, 1990; McIntyre & Pigram, 1992). However, there are variances depending on activity and/or setting focus (Havitz & Howard, 1995; Trauer, 1999a; Trauer et al., 2003) as can be demonstrated in the case of wine tourists. Some wine tourists indeed may be behaviourally involved (drinking wine), cognitively involved (learning about it), and affectively involved (enduring involvement—e.g. central to a wine connoisseur who pursues his hobby and interest in wine both at home and while on holidays). Yet, another tourist, by choice or for health reasons, might not drink wine at all, but having grown up in a wine region that tourist might harbour a strong emotional attachment (affective/enduring involvement) with place and product (wine) through childhood memories, and might be particularly interested in the history and production of wine (cognitive involvement). Behavioural measurements such as past experience, frequency of use, and cognitive indicators such as knowledge and skill, have been incorporated into recreation research (e.g. McIntyre, 1989, 1990; Scott & Godbey, 1994; Scott & Scoot Shafer, 2001) and involvement in leisure and tourism-related contexts (see Havitz & Dimanche, 1997, 1999). As the recreation specialization loop demonstrates, behaviour, cognition and affective involvement are interlinked. However, as Laurent and Kapferer (1985) pointed out ‘‘involvement does not systematically lead to the expected difference in behaviouryy.because, in part, each involvement facet (see below) influences specific behaviours differently’’ (cited in Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998, p. 262). The involvement facets of importance and enjoyment (attraction), self-expression (identity and social

cohesion) and centrality (lifestyle, work) constitute the concept of ‘‘enduring involvement’’ (McIntyre, 1989, 1990) or the affective component of specialization (Little, 1976). Hall and Weiler (1992, p. 9) discussed the issue of centrality, with its strong social content in the context of serious leisure and tourism, referring to it as the ‘‘unique ethos which is represented by a specific social world ‘‘composed of special beliefs, values, moral principles, norms, and performance standards’’ (Gahwiler, 1995; Gahwiler & Havitz, 1998). McKercher and du Cros (2002) also acknowledged the issue of centrality of interest in culture as a main differentiating variable in their study of ‘‘cultural’’ tourists to Hong Kong, acknowledging that behavioural indicators as in visits to cultural attractions was not sufficient for market segmentation.

10. Casual leisure and situational involvement Having discussed the ‘‘serious’’ side of leisure and recreation specialization, it is important to look at the other end of the spectrum, that of ‘‘casual leisure’’. It has been defined as ‘‘an immediate and intrinsically rewarding, relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it’’ (Stebbins, 1982, cited in Bartram, 2001, p. 5). This is akin to situational involvement and points to the realization that within commercialized leisure and tourism, particularly within sub-segments such as adventure tourism, little or no training is necessary for the participants to partake in the experience. The guides and/or management of the operations take on the

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responsibility to maximize enjoyment and satisfaction for customers from across the spectrum of novices to experts (Cater, 2000; Fluker & Turner, 1998, 2000; Trauer, 1998, 1999a). Stebbins (1997) points out that those participants pursuing serious leisure are in fact in the minority compared to those involved in casual leisure. This notion was supported by various authors in the area of SIT such as cultural tourism (Craik, 1997) and ecotourism (Eagles, 1996). This suggests that within SIT a majority of participants in fact are not unlike casual leisure participants who unknowingly ‘‘Often dabble in or play around at an activity pursued as serious leisure by others’’ (Stebbins, 1997, p. 19).

research with regard to physical risk, particularly in the context of adventure recreation and to some extent in adventure tourism (e.g. Ewert, 1989b; McIntyre & Roggenbuck, 1998; Priest, 1992, 1999; Robinson, 1992), other sources of risk exist in tourism such as social psychological, financial and temporal (Dimanche, Havitz, & Howard, 1993). The following list is suggested (Sonmez & Graefe, 1998), which highlights the multi¨ plicity and complexity of risk in tourism within the 21st century overall, not just in the context of ‘‘adventure tourism’’: 


11. Involvement—enduring and situational Involvement is a multi-dimensional construct and has been interpreted as a process of psychological identification resulting in varying degrees of behavioural, cognitive and affective investment in an activity, product or situation (Richins & Bloch, 1986; Richins, Bloch, & McQuarrie, 1992; Havitz & Dimanche, 1999; McIntyre, 1989, 1990). Involvement was defined initially by Rothschild (1984) as an unobservable state of motivation, arousal or interest towards a recreational activity, or associated product. It is evoked by a particular stimulus or situation and has drive properties. Within consumer theory involvement reflects the extent to which a person associates him or herself with an activity or product, and this has been adopted by researchers in leisure and tourism embracing the five dimensions of the multi-dimensional construct of involvement; these being

physical risk (physical danger or injury/accident), health risk (becoming sick, e.g. SARS), technical risk (e.g. something going wrong with transport, accommodation), political instability risk (involvement in political turmoil), terrorism risk (terrorist attack), psychological risk (experience not real self, selfimage), social risk (travel choice affects others’’ opinion of self), satisfaction risk (no personal satisfaction/dissatisfaction), financial risk (not value for money), time risk (waste of time).

With the above in mind, Iwasaki and Havitz (1998, p. 260) argue that there are antecedents to involvement of ‘‘individual mediating, individual moderating’’ nature and those of ‘‘social-situational moderating’’ characteristics as follow:  


the affective component as in the importance and enjoyment attributed to a product or activity, the sign or self-expression value as the statements perceived to be made to others or self about selfidentity through purchase and/or participation, the added component of centrality (McIntyre, 1989, 1990), that refers to how important to an individual the activity, product or experience is, risk probability, perceived potential of making a wrong/poor choice, risk consequence, perceived importance of negative consequences in the case of wrong/poor choice (Havitz & Dimanche, 1999).  

The first three facets form the underpinnings of enduring involvement in ‘‘recreation specialization’’ (see Fig. 4) and imply a continuum of varying degrees of intensity from low level of involvement at one end to high levels at the other. Iwasaki and Havitz (1998) note that, although risk has received a lot of attention in

Individual mediating facets: J Values or belief, attitudes, motivation, needs or goals, initial formation of preference, initial behavioural experiences, competence/skills. Individual moderating facets: J Intrapersonal constraints (e.g.funds, access, health), anticipation of personal benefits, and/or initial gain of personal benefits such as satisfaction and health (e.g. Driver, Brown, & Peterson, 1991). Social-situational moderating factors (both at global or macro and specific or micro-level): J Social support from significant others, situational incentives, social and cultural norms, interpersonal and structural constraints, anticipation of social benefits and/or initial gain of social benefits such as friendship and family solidarity (e.g. Driver et al., 1991; Unruh, 1979, 1980).

Although theses antecedents have been identified, Iwasaki and Havitz (1998, p. 260/1) point out that an inherent difficulty exists in assessing these antecedent effects on involvement ‘‘as they rarely increase or

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decrease congruently with each other in terms of direction or intensity’’. Yet, if one accepts these antecedents as overall underpinnings, it is not surprising that involvement theory has received a lot of attention in leisure research. Pearce (1993) stresses the importance of recognizing the multiplicity of motives existent in individuals in any social context, not just tourism, and therefore recommends a dynamic approach to any theoretical framework. Indeed, individual’s behaviour, according to Cohen’s (1972) emic perspective, should be considered in the context of place, social and time specificity as these would be influential. Similarly, Sharpley (1999) argues that for any theoretical framework or typology to be pertinent, a sociological perspective that analyses tourists both within a microcontext as well as at the structural macro-level, serves to contextualize tourist behaviour and experiences in a broader overall life context. The involvement construct provides a profile for market segmentation, demonstrated originally by Laurent and Kapferer’s (1985) study, which reported ten distinct clusters, of which four clusters were also reasonably confirmed in the context of tourist motivation in the study by Havitz and Howard (1995). These were ‘‘intrinsic sophisticates, casual pleasure seekers, ambivalent consumers and appearance involvement’’ (p. 98). Havitz and Howard (1995) emphasize, however, that market segmentation clusters will vary depending on sample characteristics, products, activities and clustering procedures. Thus, their study revealed two further unique clusters of ‘‘moderately engaged consumers and conformist consumers’’. When testing the enduring and situational involvement properties, Havitz and Howard (1995) data confirmed the stability over time of the importancepleasure (attraction) facet, as also presented by McIntyre (1989). This is not surprising as leisure and accordingly holidays are chosen on the premise that they will be enjoyable (Kelly, 1983). Yet, the sign and risk consequence scores varied depending on activity context. Research conducted by Dimanche et al. (1993) in the context of tourism resulted in high scores in the importance/pleasure (attraction) and sign dimensions, which tended to show correlation with repeat behaviour. Risk probability scores on the other hand decreased as participants acquired increased behavioural and cognitive reference points. This suggests that increased familiarity with chosen activities and settings, including those of tourist destinations, facilitate a change in ability to evaluate more rationally, a change in perception of risk, a change in destination choice and/or activity complexity, as has been demonstrated within outdoor and adventure recreation research (Ewert, McIntyre, 1990; McIntyre & Pigram, 1992). Frequency of participation with a touristic activity, it should be noted here, has been proposed to be the behavioural result of

involvement, and yet, the correlation between these still requires further exploration (Havitz & Dimanche, 1997, 1999). This is important to recognize in the context of tourism, and adventure tourism in particular, as the risk probability has shown positive correlation to the attraction and sign facets of involvement profiles. Thus, a focus in research on the involvement dimension of sign and risk has been suggested (Dimanche, Havitz, & Howard, 1991; Havitz, 2002; Havitz & Mannell, 2005).

12. The special interest tourism trip cycle From the above discussion, the following ‘‘SIT Trip Cycle’’ (see Fig. 5) is suggested. Tourism and leisure experiences are multi-phasic and evolving across time (Craig-Smith & French, 1994; Leiper, 1990; Stewart, 1998), with the tourist being a participant and contributing factor in the development and delivery of the experience. The tourism experience, consisting of the anticipation, consumption and memory phases, is situated within the consumer’s overall life context with the emergence of an enjoyable and satisfying experience being built across the total temporal frame and being interpreted ‘‘within the broader, narrative context of the consumer’s life’’ (Arnould & Price, 1993). Cohen (1972) recognized this by pointing out that all tourists, to varying degrees, carry with them their values and behaviours established in their home environment and culture, which influence their perceptions and reactions to new experiences of other places, activities, people and foreign culture. At both levels of the ‘‘discursive’’ and ‘‘practical consciousness’’, tourists are immersed in their individual action and the social structures of their surrounds, that of the tourist and the home culture (Kuentzel, 2000). Dimanche and Samdahl (1994, p. 125) suggest that the need for identity affirmation at a personal level (needs for self-expression and self-affirmation), and affirmation of social identity (needs for conspicuous consumption and display—sign value), respectively, influence the choice of leisure activities. The term selfexpression is anchored in the context of recreation experiences within the leisure literature, while the term sign value finds its roots within consumer behaviour literature with reference to conspicuous consumption of products (Laverie & Arnett, 2000). The above interpretation by Dimanche and Samdahl (1994) is similar to that by Pearce (1993) and Csikszentmihalyi (1975), who argue that intrinsic motivation fosters individual attention to issues of personal autonomy and travel choice, while extrinsic motivation encourages focus on ‘‘significant others’’, power structures and social recognition with delayed, or post hoc satisfaction being a driving motivator. Studies, taking an environmental psychological perspective for the analysis of leisure experiences

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Fig. 5. The ‘‘SIT Trip Cycle’’. EI ¼ enduring involvement, SI ¼ situational involvement. Based on Clawson and Knetsch (1966), Hamilton-Smith (1987), Leiper (1990), Dimanche and Samdahl (1994).

applied experiential sampling methodology (ESM) during the on-site experience and presented results with variance in focus and mood (McIntyre & Roggenbuck, 1998), which, considering the antecedents of involvement (see discussion above), could be associated with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as well as on-site influences. Iso-Ahola (1983) pointed to the issue of motivations being re-constructed by participants within post hoc research, participants possibly attempting to create a culturally acceptable image. This communication to self and/or others through narratives (stories), expressing satisfaction and also dissatisfaction feed back into personal and social identity, and ultimately self within the home environment, and future leisure and travel choices and behaviour, respectively. The concepts of ‘‘post hoc satisfaction’’ (PHS) and ‘‘real-time satisfaction’’ (RTS) was considered and operationalized in a study conducted by Stewart and Hull (1992) with regard to quality park management. PHS appraises the recreation experience evaluated after the on-site activity has occurred, while RTS is an evaluation of a recreationist’s current state during the recreation/tourism experience. The results suggested the need for two distinct constructs of satisfaction due to the differential reliance on introspection, differential emphasis on recall of past experiences, and differential ability to

control the effects of context. However, as the ‘‘SIT Trip Cycle’’ emphasizes, constant evaluation takes place during all phases of travel, including the anticipation and planning phase and once back in the home environment, or travel originating region. The cyclic accumulative nature of situational involvement and enduring involvement therefore suggest a fusion between RTS and PHS that will influence future leisure/ travel choice and behaviour. The discussion of self asks for clarification of ontology and whether strict symbolic interactionism is seen to be the underpinning theory, or whether it is structuration theory of ‘‘dualisam’’ as per Giddens (1999), where the ‘‘saturated self’’ (Gergen, 1991) of post-modernity is involved in individual action and social structure that are ‘‘mutually constitutive of each other’’ywhere interaction of the ‘‘reflexive self’’ is ‘‘a subset of a broader spectrum of routinized activities’’:yy..‘‘to keep a particular narrative going’’ (cited in Kuentzel, 2000, pp. 89–91). Holidays indeed are another time and place for ‘‘right of passage’’, another time and place for ‘‘selfhood’’, for the ‘‘reflexive project of self’’yy. not in the ‘‘quest for selfimprovement or development against the constraining forces of an external worldy.but to maintain the narrative in those moments of ambiguity or ‘‘ontological anxiety, or to anchor the self across the contingencies of

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time and space’’ (Kiewa, 2001; Kuentzel, 2000, p. 90). Structuation theory recognizes the ‘‘duality’’ of life in post-modernity (Kuentzel, 2000) and this stance has been taken for the conceptualization presented in this paper.

13. Frameworks for analysis of special interest tourism experiences at micro-level The prior discussion of SIT as being part of an overall environmental system at macro-level (see Fig. 1) has attributed importance to media in terms of image generation and has argued that image affects concepts of place, of self, and the promotion of desires for certain holiday products and experiences. Level (multi-dimensional construct, involvement profile), and kind (EI/SI) of involvement it is argued, are the contributing factors at micro-level for the individual in the decision-making process, the experience of SIT products, and satisfaction at recollection stage (see Fig. 5). Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) theorize a continuum of ‘‘dabbler’’, ‘‘enthusiast’’, ‘‘expert’’ and ‘‘fanatics’’, and their study, consisting of a questionnaire distributed to UK Outbound SIT participants and operators investigating market segmentation and product grouping, provided tentative evidence. Their classifications are not unlike those suggested in the following proposed theoretical framework (see Figs. 6 and 7). However, the major contribution of this extended framework of SIT is its fundamental conceptualization of SIT based on the multi-dimensional and cyclic concept of involvement by considering the

influence of possible enduring involvement in the leisure (home) context and situational involvement within tourism with a potential for a ‘‘career’’ path in SIT. Additionally, the product complexity dimension is related to a specific SIT segment/category, for example adventure, which is further refined in Fig. 7 ‘‘The Adventure Tourism Experience’’. In their conclusion, Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) sought to refine SIT theorization from the global to the local, or from the macro to the micro, thus providing for more focused research. As can be seen in Fig. 6, the main cells are formed by a horizontal axis that traces the level of involvement; a continuum that ranges from low levels of involvement (multi-dimensional) as in ‘‘attraction’’ in a special interest focus (e.g. activity, environmental setting, social context), to high levels of involvement as in centrality and commitment. The vertical axis presents a second continuum, that of ‘‘Frequency of SIT product purchase/participation’’. Enduring involvement implies a transition from the ‘‘one-off’’ experience into a process of experience repetition during which additional ‘‘skills’’ (behavioural, cognitive and social/psychological) are collected and the nature of the challenge being sought might become more ‘‘risky’’ with regard to risk probability and risk consequence. In terms of this model the participant may therefore move along two dimensions—these being a transition from lesser to greater involvement considering the various facets of involvement (attraction, self-expression and centrality, risk potential, risk consequence) with a specific activity or setting (leisure interest), and two, by increasing exposure to travel involvement in SIT.

Fig. 6. The ‘‘SIT Experience’’.

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Fig. 7. The ‘‘Adventure Tourism Experience’’.

Thus, the ‘‘SIT Expert’’ has high involvement in both the leisure interest and experience in travel and chooses SIT experiences with matching challenges. The ‘‘Novice’’ in SIT, according to Brotherton and Himmetoglu (1997) is looking for a change from GIT and MIT and, depending on her/his attitude to risk, will be seeking ‘‘fashionable or popular’’ products as a means of selfexpression. They called these tourists the ‘‘dabblers’’, not unlike the dabbler as suggested by Stebbins (1997) in the debate of casual and serious leisure. The ‘‘Novice’’ is trying out a special leisure/recreation interest of high importance and centrality to the ‘‘Expert/Specialist Interest Tourist’’ as well as the ‘‘Travelling Recreation Expert/Specialist’’, while being a novice at travel. Thus, the ‘‘Novice’’ is also exploring travel as a new or evolving interest and hence is dabbling in the SIT’’ Collector’s’’ expertise of travel. On the other hand, a ‘‘Collector’’ of SIT experiences participates in a variety of SIT experiences/products such as cultural tourism, adventure tourism, sport tourism, etc. The ‘‘Collector’’, unfamiliar with and inexperienced in e.g. adventure tourism, choosing a highly complex/specialized/’’‘‘hard’’ tourism product may find him/herself in a risk zone encountering challenges beyond their competence in the SIT focus. The ‘‘Travelling Special Interest Expert’’ is the person who is highly involved (specialist) in the leisure focus but a novice at travelling, possibly taking a ‘‘once in a lifetime’’ vacation. These tourists would find themselves in a ‘‘comfort zone’’ of their specialisation.

14. Adventure tourism experiences Within the context of adventure recreation, Ewert and Hollenhorst (1989) presented a framework where the adventure recreationist moves along a continuum from introduction through development to commitment as he/she gains more experience with the activity. This recreation specialization meant a change in activity and setting preferences, something addressed by Clarke and Stankey’s (1979) recreation opportunity spectrum (ROS) for park management purposes. Through the provision of a range of recreational settings, the ROS facilitates satisfaction for a spectrum of users/participants catering for their varying needs, tastes and preferences. It is the ‘‘fit’’ between individual characteristics and setting (product) attributes that facilitates ‘‘peak experience’’ or ‘‘flow’’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, 1990). Considering individual involvement and specialization attributes and product complexity/nature of the product in SIT, the following dimensions are suggested to serve as a framework for research, design, management and marketing of engineered experiences within the commercial context of tourism. 14.1. Product attributes (ROS/TOS) 

Product specific e.g., J Risk (perceived to real/soft to hard in adventure tourism)

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– competition (play/social to pure sport/serious orientation in sport tourism), – formality (informal to formal in educational tourism and eco-tourism), – depth of interest (shallow to deep in eco-tourism and cultural tourism). social orientation (programs/courses/family/friends to peers/teams/solo), environmental/physical orientation (natural/unstructured to developed/structured), local to global (familiarity and proximity to novel and exotic), access (cost, time, equity, low to high).

14.2. Individual attributes—involvement 


Behavioural J Frequency of participation (measures prior experience with activity, familiarity of setting). Cognitive J Skills, knowledge, setting attributes—low to high, J locus of control/autonomy (perceived to real competence). Affective (EI) J Importance/enjoyment (attraction), J self expression/sign, J centrality. Risk probability J Choosing one activity/product over other options. Risk consequences J Making poor choices.

The framework brings together two key elements of the setting and activity features (tourism product) and the tourist’s attributes. It demonstrates a multi-dimensional and changing relationship along a spectrum from attraction to centrality with, as an example, an ‘‘adventure tourist career’’ path as shown in Fig. 7. Within adventure tourism there is a ‘‘hard adventure’’ product requiring careful preparation (physical, equipment, skill requirements and planning) and high levels of commitment and experience, as in an expedition to Mount Everest. However, the tourist can purchase this ‘‘expertise’’ in the commercial context of tourism. Companies further extend their offer for the comparatively inexperienced under the umbrella of ‘‘soft’’ adventure, experiences designed for the novice and the collector. Market segmentation based on benefits analysis implies a need to present multiple products to clientele that purchase ‘‘packages’’ of image and text to fit their needs and desires. The benefit is premised on a promise whereby participation yields satisfaction. This requires high levels of skill in technical expertise and establishing empathy by the provider/operator with clients, while complying with regulations relating to

safety. The framework implies that satisfaction is derived from competently dealing with perceived risk, and thereby permits product development where ‘‘real’’ risk may be as minimal as possible. Yet so long as it offers an ‘‘adrenalin high’’ from surmounting a challenge, client satisfaction can result. The understanding and application of the underpinning aspects at macro- and micro-level proposed in this paper assist in establishing and maintaining professionalism and risk management policies for creating satisfying and memorable tourism experiences within an environment of growing concern for safety, liability and the outcome of a satisfying experience of ‘‘extra-ordinaire’’ dimensions. Fig. 7 presents a refined framework of a specific SIT segment, that of adventure tourism. Four cells, similar to Fig. 6 ‘‘The SIT Experience’’, can therefore be identified, these being Collector: A tourist who regularly chooses an adventure tourism products/experiences for his/her vacation, but does not focus on one particular SIT sub-segment, e.g. as in adventure tourism: windsurfing, canoeing, caving, skiing expedition, mountaineering, collecting various experiences like in ‘‘wine’’ tasting. Expert/specialist tourist: On the other hand, for the ‘‘Expert/Specialist Tourist’’ the special interest activity is central in her/his overall life and leisure. Hence, the ‘‘Adventure Tourist’’ is likely to choose their special interest holidays in accordance with their overall leisure interests and activities. Travelling expert/specialist recreationist: The ‘‘Travelling Expert/Specialist Adventure Recreationist’’ is a tourist who is highly involved in adventure during their leisure time. He/she pursues this mainly in their home environment as a hobby and follows his/her recreational passion during holidays as either a once in a lifetime experience or only on rare occasions, with little travel experience overall. Novice/dabbler: The ‘‘Novice’’ Adventure Tourist is ‘‘trailing’’ an adventure tourism experience, being inexperienced and unfamiliar with adventure experiences, having possibly participated in an eco-tourism experience or a cultural tourism holiday prior to this vacation. However, the travel exposure is limited and therefore, the ‘‘Novice’’ is ‘‘dabbling’’ in both the leisure and travel expertise of the ‘‘travelling adventure recreation specialist’’ and the ‘‘collector’’, respectively, and the ‘‘Adventure Tourism Expert/Specialist’’ overall.

15. SIT and adventure career path The frameworks imply a form of recreation-SIT career path whereby the participant may choose to move along the 451 line from the exploration as a ‘‘novice or dabbler’’ to the ‘‘specialist/expert tourist/

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traveler’’ cell. That such movement is not automatic is, however, an important proviso. But the possible explanation for such movement is explained by the degree of involvement that the participant begins to demonstrate, a degree in part explained by the evaluation of the experiences derived from the consumption of the SIT product (product complexity continuum). Thus, the framework indicates an integration of the variables identified as being important in this conceptualisation of SIT. However, it is important to realize, that within the context of tourism, the tourist can ‘‘buy’’ the equipment, the time for organizing, the expert knowledge and skill within a package with no other investment such as prior experience or involvement in the activity. Nonetheless, in the zone of exploration the acquisition of skill by the less involved encourages senses of achievement whereby both degrees of involvement and abilities to cope with more challenging environments occurs, and thus a SIT career might be said to lie along this path.

16. Conclusion Like any form of modeling, the frameworks present potential relationships that are abstractions from reality; yet nonetheless pose questions that elicit more meaningful responses. It raises issues relating to identification of ‘‘inhibitors’’ and ‘‘facilitators’’. In the example of adventure tourism it includes adventure skill acquisition in a transition from ‘‘soft’’ to ‘‘hard’’ adventure. While at one level this may be complementary to research about participation levels in the leisure literature, the model also poses questions about the role of media and the importance of ‘‘signage’’. It attributes a role to the media whereby it creates ‘‘images of the familiar’’ so that the tourist perceives themselves not simply experiencing the unfamiliar, but rather as someone taking on a role to act that which is familiar through image consumption. It is suggested that the two micro-frameworks incorporate two theoretical concepts within the literature not previously linked—these being the continua of the nature of the product/product complexity, e.g. hard and soft adventure, and the role of involvement. This micro-framework is in turn contextualized within a macro-framework of the commercial adventure tourism industry of supply and demand with a specific role being attributed to media and image creation. Sharpley (1999) argues for analysis of tourist experience at both the micro- and macro-level, thus providing a broader social context. Indeed, the signage of the activity is so important that it can be said to provide a linkage between the macro- and the micro-frameworks. The identification of sign values associated with SIT images helps create more enduring relationships with the small social worlds of SIT participants. In the example given, adventure participants thereby moving a person along

the involvement continuum from low to higher and more enduring levels (attraction to centrality) based on multi-dimensional measurements. Linking tourist categories and typologies to tourism experiences as a multidimensional concept rather than tourists’ behaviour acknowledges that tourists are not homogenous and do not function in isolation from broader sociological influencers. It can be claimed that image determines both demand and supply. The above argument has concentrated primarily upon the nature of the demand, but many of those that supply the product do so in the wish to sustain a certain life-style centred on the activity in question and the social world (Unruh, 1979, 1980) that sustains that activity. With reference to the work of Cloke and Perkins (1998, 2002), the model structures their observations by establishing potential relationship between experience and commodification in a way not inherent in their work. The frameworks postulate that questioning along the dimensions of signage and involvement as well as the affective associated with given experiences are needed to better understand the nature of the SIT product, or in this case the adventure ‘‘product’’. Understanding of involvement profiles and SIT opportunities (ROS) facilitates not only appropriate management to maximize consumer satisfaction, but also would focus program development, target marketing and relevant service mix, distribution, pricing and promotional strategies. Research could apply the involvement concepts with regard to activities and destinations not only to SIT segments such as adventure, sport or culture, but more specifically at subsegment level such as rock-climbing, sky-diving or mountaineering within adventure tourism. The progression from an eclectic mix of SIT experiences to the pursuit of a specific interest such as mountaineering already suggests a specialization and career away from the general SIT segments (Beedie, 2003). Further research directions incorporating the involvement concept are suggested to also investigate gender, cultural differences and age differences for international marketing and equity issues.

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