Studying time income and transport in understanding tourism demand linked to family holidays

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Travel demand is a wide concept that covers the aspects that govern the demand level, different types of demand, features of demand, and the intentions behind the demands. Demand is “a schedule of the amount of any product or service that people are willing and able to buy at each specific price in a set of possible prices during some specified period” (Conference Proceedings, 2008 p46). Tourism demands are generated by persons called “tourists.” Most of the existing studies measure tourism demand using the numbers of visitors. However, Schänzel and Yeoman (2015) argued that tourism product is not a single commodity. It is a bundle of services and goods bought by tourists. The magnitude and the scale of demand differ due to many factors. Tourists’ purchasing behavior vary because of the consumers differ in their length of stay, purpose of visit, income levels, and demographics. Therefore, there is no way tourist arrivals can be used to explain the consumption patterns and expenditures of visitors. Instead, studies that focus on understanding how the dynamics of time, income, and transport influence tourism demand fit the position. This paper seeks to determine whether the insights of the above factors can be relied upon in understanding travel demand associated with family holidays.

Comprehension of Tourism Demand Linked to Family Holidays

In the recent past, families have become a great expanding market for the travel industry. Family travel is significantly fuelled by the increasing significance of creating family memories, keeping family bonds alive, and promoting family togetherness. Research has revealed that family tourism is growing at a faster rate compared to other kinds of leisure travel (Schänzel & Yeoman, 2015). In the leisure travel market, family tourism accounts for approximately thirty percent. It is an indicator that the family travel is increasingly becoming an important sector in the tourism industry. The holiday experiences for families center on “spending time with the family doing fun activities that are different to normal and which create positive memories” (Schänzel & Yeoman, 2015 p22). However, there are three key factors that affect family travel: time, income, and transport

Studying Time

Time is one of many critical factors that influence the consumer behavior of tourists. It plays a central role in understanding tourism demand associated with family holidays. The aspect of time in the tourism industry is viewed in the perspective of climate change. Different regions have different climates. Certain climates favor family travel while other do not. During summer time in the United States or Europe, the tourism demand associated with family holidays in the regions rises because of the increase in family travel (Lise & Tol, 2002). The vice versa is observed during the period of winter in the countries. However, when the U.S. experiences a winter period, the climate in other parts of the world like Africa experience summer. In Europe, there is no uniformity in climate change, therefore, varied regions in the continent experience different tourism demand at different periods. “A significant deterioration of the suitability for tourism of EU Mediterranean regions, especially during the summer months is projected by many studies” (Lise & Tol, 2002 p35). This means that time is of great value when considering travel demand. The climate in the northern regions mostly favor the Mediterranean regions as it is evidenced by the re-shifting of tourists’ flows.

The time factor can also be studied in the perspective of economic time emerging from the globalization effect. Increased globalization has foreseen the increasing significance of the economic time that is said to be part of the social time. Work time and time utilized by employees to recover physical and mental strengths are all classified as economic time. According to World Tourism Organization (2007), consumptive lifestyles have resulted from the increasing importance of the economic time. Consequently, these lifestyles add value to the provision of tourism services. The greatest impact on the economic time perception is caused by globalization. To better understand the concept of economic time, Lise and Tol (2002) categorized it into three parts: leisure, time-related with work but not spent physically at work, and working time. The need to travel beyond a person’s area of residence – also referred by a single term “tourism demand” – can emerge in any of the three categories of economic time. Most families travel during holidays. The economic time mostly spent by families is leisure time. Most organizations close its operations during holidays and workers see this as an opportunity to take their families for trips in up countries or outside their place of residence. As a result, the curve of tourism demand rises during holidays. It is vital for stakeholders in the travel industry to take note of the three divisions of economic time in the examination of the travel demand.

Studying Income

Income is one of the most critical economic determinants of tourism demand. The principle assertion of the economic theory states that a person’s demand for travel will likely increase when his/her income increases. “Tourism demand is income elastic although business, luxury, and VFR travel demand are relatively less income-elastic than leisure tourism demand” (Lehto, et al., 2004 p21). The proxy variables widely considered in describing income, include wage rate, total household expenditures, disposable income, and the gross annual income. In strong economies, most families have high disposable incomes – the money considered for spending after all other needs have been budgeted for. Increased disposable incomes for families coupled with the latest trend of increasing availability of leisure time has foreseen more people venturing out in the tourism industry hence the rise of demand. Income has been used as one of the predictors of recreational participation. Perhaps, this explains why researchers have continuously chosen it during the last decade as a vital determinant of tourism demand (Lehto, et al., 2004).

Marketers in the tourism industry need to be aware that consumers of travel are most of the times ready to commit a significant amount of disposable income to enjoy themselves. Travel is an economic activity that is expenditure-driven and, therefore, understanding tourist expenditure is fundamental. From Mihalic’s (2002) view, “the consumption of tourism is at the center of the economic measurement of travel and the foundation of the economic impacts of tourism” (Mihalic, 2002 p88). For a long time, tourism demand associated with family holidays has been at the level of macroeconomic where the information of a tourist’s expenditure and total arrivals in a tourist destination are used. Income does not only determine the demand for travel, but also the quality of service provided to the consumers. Families or individuals with high disposable incomes are likely to demand high-quality services compared to those with low disposable incomes. Therefore, just like time and transport, studying income dynamics of families is inevitable to understand tourism demand (Mehmetoglu, 2007).

Studying Transport

Just like time and disposable, it is equally important to study the travel mode preferred by families during holidays in a bid to understand tourism demand linked to the particular market. In general view, the marketer needs to study the vacation traveler behavior, including the mode of travel used by the tourist to reach the destination. It is worthwhile noting that holiday-related behavior and decision-making are areas that have dominated most studies within tourism and transportation fields. The prominent topics studied in the literature of tourism are a tourist destination and the travel mode used to get tourist to the destination (Brey and Lehto 2007).

Researchers use the holiday travel mode choice to gain the understanding of the travel choices made available for tourists during holidays. This model of understanding is selected exclusively through the use of discrete choice models because the alternatives available for visitors are discrete options like traveling by rail, plane, or automobile. The holiday travel mode choice cannot be investigated by using an independent model because it does not acknowledge the true characteristics of vacation travel mode. For example, families that have less disposable income will not consider destinations that do not have public transport modes connected by a surface. Again, the feasibility of some distant vacation destinations can only favor certain families or individuals who might prefer air mode other than any other mode (Mihalic, 2002).

Personal preferences have also played a pivotal role in swaying certain families towards a specific mode of transport. Typically, travel mode research focus on three critical types of variables: trip characteristics, destination characteristics, and personal characteristics. These are also considered to be factors that affect tourism demand. Personal characteristics encompass factors like place of residence, household composition, education, age as well as income (Beerli, et al., 2007, p23). Trip characteristics include vacation purpose, travel times, costs, and travel distances. However, in the recent past, researchers have begun to explore other aspects that are past these factors. They investigate detailed measures of tourist motivations and preferences. This is fuelled by the fact that families – the most growing market for the industry – are becoming increasingly selective and demanding about their travel holiday. The preference data goes beyond trip purposes or personal characteristics. It includes the “inherent desires for leisure travel that control where and how often an individual will travel” (Beerli, et al., 2007, p23).

Understanding the preferences and motivations behind the choice of travel mode of families during holidays will enable a marketer to be in a position to provide transport choices for the consumers. In places where families have low disposable incomes, it will be important to introduce surface transport options, such as roads or rails. This should be done with the aim of increasing the tourism demand. For developed economies where families have high disposable incomes, transport means like air mode will be preferable because it is easily affordable to them (Ory & Mokhtarian, 2008). Since tourism is classified as an economic activity that heavily contributes to countries’ GDPs, the private sector in the industry need to collaborate with governments to ensure that the relevant transport means are availed to the right market segment. Additionally, the focus should also be directed towards the preference of tourists in terms of transportation artifacts or vehicles. Some families are large and might not be comfortable traveling their saloon cars. Therefore, there is the need to have different options of traveling vehicles that can accommodate varied sizes of families (Decrop & Snelders, 2005).


The industry of tourism has a significant impact on the development of the global economy. It is for this reason that marketers and other players in the industry are required to conduct thorough studies to understand the dynamics of tourism demand. There are many factors that come into play when considering travel demand. Some of them include time, income, and transport. Studying these three factors provides an insightful understanding of tourism demand associated with family holidays. Time can be described in two perspectives: the time of nature observed through climatic change and economic time. The time of nature greatly influences the shift of tourism towards other places. The paper examined the example of Europe where climatic change is not uniform. The climate seems to be favor more the Mediterranean region than the northern region. During the summer period, the flow of tourists is directed towards the Mediterranean region. Economic time, on the other hand, is classified in three divisions: working time, normal working time spent in the recovery of physical and mental strengths, and leisure. Families are reported to mostly use their leisure time in traveling. Income also plays a central role in determining not only tourism demand but also the quality of service provided. It important for marketers to take note of the preferences and motivations for families in choosing their transport modes.

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