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«7-17-2012 Surfing as adventure travel: Motivations and lifestyles Zachariah Reynolds University of North Carolina Wilmington Nancy M. Hritz Dr. ...»

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Journal of Tourism Insights

Volume 3 | Issue 1 Article 2

7-17-2012

Surfing as adventure travel: Motivations and

lifestyles

Zachariah Reynolds

University of North Carolina Wilmington

Nancy M. Hritz Dr.

University of North Carolina Wilmington, hritzn@uncw.edu

Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/jti

Part of the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration Commons, and the Tourism Commons Recommended Citation Reynolds, Zachariah and Hritz, Nancy M. Dr. (2012) "Surfing as adventure travel: Motivations and lifestyles," Journal of Tourism Insights: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 2.

Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.9707/2328-0824.1024 Available at: http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/jti/vol3/iss1/2 This Article is brought to you for free and open access by ScholarWorks@GVSU. It has been accepted for inclusion in Journal of Tourism Insights by an authorized administrator of ScholarWorks@GVSU. For more information, please contact scholarworks@gvsu.edu.

Reynolds and Hritz: Surfing as adventure travel Surfing as adventure travel: Motivations and lifestyles Abstract The purpose of this study was to create a profile of the adventure traveler’s lifestyles, values and travel motivations. An understanding of the lifestyle and attitudes of today’s adventure traveler can aid tourism marketers in designing messages tailored to this unique target market. Differences and similarities between genders and the age cohorts of Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers were examined.

Across the sample most participated in a “traditional” type of sport before migrating to an adventure activity and they also engaged in more than one type of adventure activity.

Across the sample, the participants traveled in order to meet or maintain current relationships. While participating in their adventure sport, females reinforced the desire to be with others while males wanted to gain self-confidence. The participants overall also viewed themselves as conservative in their lifestyles and values. They spend money carefully and do not feel the desire to rebel against things in general. Future research and implications for the resort and commercial recreation industry is presented.

Key Words: Adventure travel, surfing Published by ScholarWorks@GVSU, 2012 1 Journal of Tourism Insights, Vol. 3, Iss. 1 [2012], Art. 2 Introduction Adventure tourism, as a form of special interest tourism, grew out of the need for a customized experience combined with physical activity (Sung, 2004). Historically, adventure travel began with hunting and fishing tours and then progressed to safari tours, sport fishing, rock climbing, SCUBA diving, whitewater kayaking, and snowboarding (Buckley, 2002). Individuals in these early days had past experience and skills in the activity and also participated in adventure tourism activities over the course of their lifetime.

Tourism providers initially offered adventure experiences as separate and individual activities. However, as it grew in popularity over time, tour operators and resorts specializing in adventure travel appeared in the United States. Properties such as the ACE Adventure Resort in West Virginia emerged and attraction providers now catered to this group with full day excursions including zip lines, biking adventures, and hiking (ACE, 2009; Adventure Travel Trade Association, 2010).

Adventure tourism is also recognized as an important and growing market segment, however primary research to fully understand these travelers has been lacking (Schneider, 2006). Adventure travelers, though seeking new and cultural experiences, do not always have a valid passport and do not necessarily intend on traveling far from home (Adventure Tourism Trade Association, 2010). They also intend to spend more on their experience than other types of travel. The adventure traveler is not merely the young male seeking risky experiences such as bungee cord jumping. They are young and old, male and female, rich and poor, and engage in a variety of adventure pursuits (Sung, 2004). In addition, research suggests the adventure travelers of today have little or no experience in their adventure activity of choice, expect high levels of instruction, and require assistance and safety monitoring (Buckley, 2000).

Adventure tourism is heavily marketed with a theme that today's adventure traveler might be different from years past. Adventure activity is marketed through the use of specialty magazines, with professional athletes and corporate sponsors (Buckley, 2002). Moreover, the marketing and promotion of adventure sports has merged with music, apparel and movie industries to form a unique culture (Fitzgerald, 2000). Usually targeted to the younger crowd, the media shows individuals participating in adventure experiences looking and talking a certain way. The media portrays this crowd as listening to specific music, dressing with either specific name brand labels (Quicksilver, Billabong) or shopping in specific stores with the appropriate haircuts. Surfing, in particular as an adventure travel activity, has been described as a “scene” and depicted as individuals with values that might differ from mainstream society (Farmer, 1992). Booth (2004) also concludes that surfers have a unique culture all their own different even from other visitors on the same beach.

All of this suggests that the adventure traveler might be unique in some fashion. Adventure experiences are not just an activity, but rather a lifestyle and culture all its own. Lifestyle marketing is designed to gain an understanding of “how individuals spend their time, what they consider important about their surroundings, their opinions on various issues, and their interests” (Michman, 1991, p. 19).





Understanding the lifestyle and attitudes of today’s adventure traveler can aid tourism marketers in designing messages tailored to this unique target market.

Literature Review Defining adventure travel Adventure travel is known by many different names and broadly defined by its activities. Experiences can range from a simple hike in the woods to skydiving (Loverseed, 1997). In any given situation they may be labeled as soft tourists, good tourists, ethical tourists, green tourists, alternative tourists, intelligent tourists, or sustainable tourists. Regardless of the title, adventure travelers are generally

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grouped into three categories based on the types of activities they participate in: hard or soft tourists.

Examples of hard adventure travel include rock climbing, mountain biking, bungee cord jumping, and skydiving. Soft adventure constitutes activities such as bird watching, horseback riding, camping and canoeing. Regardless of the activity or semantics, adventure travel participants are thought to engage in active pursuits that are authentic, unique, interesting, educational, and exciting (Adventure Tourism Trade Association, 2010; Loverseed, 1997).

While the activities of adventure travel are not heavily disputed, a precise definition of “adventure tourism” is argued amongst academics. Some believe adventure travel, with its foundations in outdoor recreation, is associated with risk. Risk as part of their travel is expected and desired as long as it matches their competence and skills in the activity (Ewert & Hollenhorst, 1994; Martin & Priest, 1986).

Here the adventure travel participants expect their physical and mental skills to be tested by the activity itself and the surrounding environmental conditions.

Others state the adventure traveler seeks knowledge and meaning in the activity rather than risk taking behaviors (Walle, 1987). Expanding on this idea, other researchers defined adventure travel as a physical activity, an interaction with nature, learning about different cultures, and an exchange with different types of individuals (Adventure Tourism Trade Association, 2010). This was summed up nicely by Weber (2001) who states “(t)he reward for those who seek adventure lies in the discovery and unveiling of the hidden and unknown” (p. 363). These adventure travelers seek intellectual growth on some level.

Adventure tourism is at times confused with ecological tourism. Ecological tourism is considered to be travel to a natural and pristine area with a focus on conservation and quality of life for the local community (Millington, Locke, & Locke, 2001). While adventure travel does encompass the outdoors, its main focus is not on preservation, but rather it has an educational component instead. Therefore, for the purposes of this particular study, adventure travel was defined as travel to experience the unknown with a certain level of excitement. It often takes place in an outdoor setting and requires some kind of physical exertion. Adventure travel participants expect to their skills to be tested and strive to learn either something about themselves or the places they visit.

While most of the research in adventure travel centers primarily on identifying activities, for example what types of activities they might engage in and where they might do it, research is lacking on other motivations that might drive their behavior, other than the activity itself. Therefore, this study sought to investigate of the values and lifestyles of the adventure traveler to better define this market segment using surfers as a sample.

Adventure travel and surfing Surfing, as an adventure travel activity, has grown from humble beginnings in the early 1900’s to a multi-billion dollar industry (Dolnicar & Fluker, 2003). There are an estimated 10 billion surfers worldwide fueling development and bringing economic, environmental, and social benefits and costs to travel destinations (Buckley, 2002).

Research on the surfer as an adventure traveler is not abundant, but there has been some preliminary investigation in this area. While the literature in adventure travelers in general states participants are of no particular age, the surfer might be different. Buckley (2002) acknowledges in his study of surfers the Indo-Pacific Islands participant ages can span across all generations, the largest growth in recent years seems to focus on younger individuals. Dolnicar and Fluker (2003) found similar results in Australia as the average age of their sample was just age 30.

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Farmer’s (1992) study suggested that surfing also might be an activity for only one gender. In his research on surfers in the southeastern part of the United States, an adequate number of female surfers was not available and thus not included in his results. Other studies on surfers also have relatively low female participation (Buckely, 2002, Dolnicar and Fluker, 2003). Pearson (1982) notes that women historically were not known to surf. However in more recent times, more women are participating in the adventure activity, despite the persistent perception it is male dominated (Henderson, 2001).

Other noticeable demographic traits of the surfer as an adventure participant is their tendency to engage in more than one activity and at times, across the life span. The literature is ripe with evidence that adventure travelers participate in multiple activities (Adventure Tourism Trade Association, 2010; Sung, 2004). Similiarly, Farmer (1992) found that surfers do engage in a sport in high school or college.

Buckley (2002) attempted to describe some of the lifestyles and consumer behavior of the surfer. He labels surfers as “cash rich, time poor” which may describe their adrenaline, risk seeking behaviors (p.

408). In addition, he finds in recent years that surfers, while some consider it a lifestyle, are treating their adventure travel as a “purchasable package holiday” (p. 413). Dolnicar and Fluker (2003) also moved beyond describing the surfer in terms of demographics and sought to understand the personality traits of surfers in Australia. They discover unique market segments of the surfer including those that are “price conscious safety seekers,” “price conscious adventurers,” “luxury surfers,” “ambivalents,” and “radical adventurers.” They advocate these groups behave and respond to marketing and tourism products differently.

Surfing is purported to be a unique culture and lifestyle on its own (Polzat-Newcomb, 1999). Surfers have been labeled as hippies, crazy, free spirits, or a “unique tribe of nomads” (Young, 1983, p. 189).

Farmer (1992) strove to understand this lifestyle more carefully. He found that these individuals do not engage in surfing for health and wellness, nor was competition important. Rather, they felt their adventure activity was more an “art form” and work was only important in that it provided the means necessary to keep surfing. In addition, he found that these individuals participated in surfing for what he labeled “vertigo motives.” These motivations were the need to for the excitement that comes from the risk of feeling the force of a “monster wave” pin them down and spin them around or escaping the danger of being caught in a rip current, or falling three stories down the face of a wave.

Therefore this study sought to build upon the current cache of knowledge of the surfer as the adventure traveler and explore the seemingly distinctive lifestyle of the surfer. Information of this type can assist resorts, attraction providers and other travel and tourism partners to create more effective marketing messages and strategies that speak to this market segment, ultimately serving them better. Thus, this

study asked the following research questions:

1) What is the demographic profile of the surfer as the adventure traveler:

What are the ages and gender of participants?

Do surfers participate in other types of adventure activities and across the life span?

2) What are some values and lifestyles and travel motivations of today’s surfing adventure traveler?

3) Are there differences among age groups and genders in travel motivations or values and lifestyles for the surfing adventure traveler?

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questions such as gender, age, and ethnicity. In addition, this section determined if the individual participated in other types of “traditional” sports such as soccer or football and other adventure types of activities. Lastly, questions here also asked who the individual participates in these activities with and how they plan their travel.



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