Leisure - Meaning and Impact on Leisure Travel Behavior

Article excerpt

The concept of leisure has been discussed in numerous forums from sociology to psychology and has various connotations. The current study looks at leisure in the specific context of travel as a manifest part of leisure behavior. Based on extant literature the determinants of leisure travel are identified along with summarizing some of the consumer behavior models explaining leisure travel. A schematic model of how these determinants, including- personality, motivation, attitude and situational and environmental factors, lead to leisure travel behavior has been proposed.

INTRODUCTION

Leisure as a part of human existence today has acquired a significant meaning and impact as the human race tries to grapple with the growing complexities of balancing work, social and personal or family lives. Leisure is advised to be integrated in worklife as a means of enhancement of the quality of life per se. On the other hand, the work-place is invading into the private lives with such practices as flexi-time work, work-from-home plans, and technology that enables individuals to be 'at work' anywhere and anytime. Therefore, there is this constant tussle that most working people undergo in resolving this conundrum which usually translates into managing aspects such as - time, expenditure, relationships, personal desires, and social commitments. The pressure that the work place or earning a livelihood exerts today on average individuals and families can well be gauged from the report that in the USA an average married couple labors for a staggering 717 hours (or 26 percent) more each year than a working couple in 1969 (Wellner, 2000). This pressure on time and the effort that people need to make today to be 'at leisure' needs to be considered in the context of the importance of leisure in our lives. Bright, (2000) lists the benefits of leisure as constituting all aspects of human existence; including psychological (e.g., improved self-concept, reflection of personal values, peak experiences), psychophysiological (e.g., cardiovascular health, disease control, mental and physical restoration), sociological (e.g., promotion of community stability, family solidarity, cultural identity), economic (e.g., employment, income, reduced health care costs), and environmental (e.g., preservation/ conservation). A study of the impact of the expectation of a holiday on an individual's sense of well-being conducted by Gilbert et al. (2002) offers an investigation into what effect the expectation of a holiday taking has on the sense of well-being of tourists. They report significant differences between the holiday-taking group and the non-holidaytaking group in terms of current effect, their global well-being, and in three specific life domains: family, economic situation, and health. It appears that those who are waiting to go on holiday are much happier with their life as a whole, experience less negative or unpleasant feelings and thus enjoy an overall net positive effect or pleasant feelings. The holiday-taking groups were also happier with their family, economic situation and health domains compared to the non-holiday-taking-group. Apart from the sociological and psychological interest in the concept, leisure has serious connotations for any economy and could be seen within the following (corporate and economic) perspectives -

1. Demands for increased productivity from employees as a financial, human resource, and operations management objective.

2. The ability of organizations to create (flexible) work schedules revolving around the daily lives of their employees, such that employee effectiveness and efficiency increase.

3. The ability of organizations to continue to remain as preferred employers and retain employees.

4. The ability to design and deliver relevant and profitable leisure products and services, based on the understanding of leisure and related consumption behavior encompassing the needs, wants and aspirations of target groups. …