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Experiences of Transport Tourism

Rhoden, Steven (2010) Experiences of Transport Tourism. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis presents an analysis of tourists‟ experiences of travelling whilst participating in transport tourism. The study defines transport tourism as tourism in which transport provides the main context for the tourist experience, for example coach tours, cruises and cycling holidays. Existing research tends to focus on the individual transport tourism product types and usually only considers one aspect of experience. Consequently, current understandings of tourists‟ experiences of transport tourism are fragmented and lack a unifying model. It is the development of such a tourist experience model that applies to transport tourism that forms the purpose of this thesis. The thesis demonstrates that transport is a component of all holidays in order to facilitate travel to, back from and around destinations, and that tourists‟ experiences of this travel differ. However, tourists participating in transport tourism will also travel as part of the main tourist experience, and these experiences will vary depending on the nature of tourists‟ involvement with transport. Accordingly, a theoretical typology of four transport tourist experiences is developed in this study: the positive, the reluctant, the passive and the active transport tourist experiences. The primary research focuses upon the passive and active transport tourist experiences and adopts a phenomenographic research strategy. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken with 20 transport tourists: 10 interviewees were passive transport tourists (coach and cruise) and 10 were active transport tourists (cycling and sailing). Data were coded and categories of description were identified, analysed and linkages between the categories were induced. The findings demonstrate that although experiences of transport tourism vary depending on whether tourists are passive or active transport tourists, commonality is apparent and a more broadly applicable model can developed. In general, tourists‟ experiences of transport tourism are predominantly visual and relate to the things seen along the route including landscapes, human and animal life. The mode of transport also influences tourists‟ experiences of transport tourism, as does social interaction with other people (family, friends and other tourists). Least influential of all are destinations. However, this component does not refer to tourists‟ experiences at the destination itself, rather their anticipation of future and memories of previously visited destination. The differences between passive and active transport tourist experiences that emerged reveal that tourism operators were influential in the passive transport tourist experience through the provision of entertainment and information; active transport tourists‟ direct involvement with the operation and navigation of the mode of transport (bicycle or sailing boat) and the nature of the route posed a series of challenges that had to be conquered. The findings demonstrate that experiences of transport tourism, although predominantly visual, are not exclusively so and perceptions of auditory and haptic sensing also occur. The contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the analysis of experiences of transport tourism; this contribution has two cumulative phases. First is the presentation of an original theoretical typology and its four constituent transport tourist types. This contribution provides a framework for other researchers studying the experiences of iii tourists using transport in its various forms to situate their work within a broader range of experiences, a framework that was lacking hitherto. The analysis of the primary data facilitated the development of the tourist experience model that applies to transport tourism. In doing so, it moves away from the fragmented approach taken in previous research and the model represents the experiences of transport tourism that transcends individual transport tourism product types. Additionally, because of the study‟s interpretive, inductive approach, it also provides an understanding of travel from the perspective of the tourist, a perspective that is often overlooked in other research, and the resultant model is generated from their accounts of their experiences.

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