Tourist motivation: A critical overview

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Title

Routledge Handbook of the Tourist Experience


Routledge / Taylor & Francis


School of Business and Law




Huang, S. S. (2021). Tourist motivation: A critical overview. In R. Sharpley (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of the Tourist Experience. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003219866-18


This chapter provides a critical overview of tourist motivation as one of the key concepts in the tourism literature. As the ultimate driving force for tourist behaviour, tourist motivation has been studied as a core concept in understanding different types of tourist behaviour. From a critical perspective, the literature of tourism motivation appears to be atheoretical mostly. This chapter thus takes a theoretical lens to assess the developments of conceptual or theoretical frameworks and schemes around tourist motivation. It reviews the major theoretical frameworks of tourist motivation, including the Push-Pull model, the Escaping-Seeking framework, and the Travel Career Ladder (TCL) and Travel Career Pattern (TCP) models. It goes further to review the methodological issues in measuring tourist motivations, noting that tourist motivations are deep mind psychological drives that are difficult to measure. Tourist motivations are also context- and situation-specific. This nature adds to the complexity of a reliable and valid measurement. The chapter also elaborates on the three streams of tourist motivation research in the recent literature. These three steams are: (1) studies exploring tourist motivations in different tourism forms and contexts; (2) studies applying tourist motivation in integrated tourist behaviour models; (3) Studies endeavouring to examine the relationship between motivation and some even deeper mind constructs like cultural values.



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