Leisure Experiences in Tourist Attractions: Exploring the Motivations of Local Residents

Article excerpt

This study was conducted to explore leisure motivations with regard to tourist attractions. A survey of a convenience sample of residents of Melbourne, Australia, was conducted. The sample was then segmented based on the likelihood of visiting a cross-section of Melbourne's tourist attractions in the next 6 months. Analysis using Unger and Kernan's (1983) Subjective Leisure Scale (SLS) was then undertaken to explore whether there were differences across the segments in terms of their leisure motivations. The results highlight that, within this context, intrinsic satisfaction, perceived freedom and arousal emerged as stronger underlying dimensions of motivations to visit tourist attractions, rather than mastery, spontaneity and involvement, This information provides insights for marketers of tourist attractions with regard to what residents are seeking when they visit local tourist attractions. The information can be used to develop more positive experiences at tourist attractions for this important sector of the market.

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Attractions are specific permanent resources that are managed for the enjoyment, amusement, entertainment and education of the visiting public (Middelton & Clarke, 2001). Graham and Lennon (2002) identified a range of cultural attractions including museums, heritage sites, parks and gardens.

In recent years, governments at the national, state and local levels--including Tourism Victoria and The City of Melbourne--have supported the redevelopment of existing tourist attractions and/or the development of a range of new tourist attractions in Melbourne to develop tourism within the destination. Sletvold (2003) suggested that the main influences on attraction development are those that are generally of a political, commercial and professional nature. Melbourne's newest attraction is the Federation Square complex, which comprises a public space that is lined with cafes and galleries, and has access to the prestigious Ian Porter Art Gallery. The cost of building the complex was AU$250M (Federation Square, 2003), which was sourced predominantly from state government funding. Melbourne's oldest attraction, the Zoological Gardens, has also recently been redeveloped. The Melbourne Museum, also an established attraction, was relocated to purpose-built premises in 2002. Similarly, the National Gallery of Victoria has recently reopened after a refurbishment costing in the order of AU$168M (Gooch, Simpson, & Ham, 2004). Importantly, despite the development that has occurred to date, there are further plans to develop Melbourne's attraction product. For example, the management of the Melbourne Aquarium recently announced an AU$170M expansion that will assist in positioning the successful attraction as one of the most impressive aquariums in the Asia-Pacific region (New Figures Confirm Tourism Performance in 2003, 2004).

Table 1 provides a summary of some of Melbourne's key attractions and includes details of the years in which the attractions were established, annual attendance numbers in 2002/2003, and the (re-)development costs (if applicable) for each attraction and the funding arrangements. The statistics in Table 1 were compiled from a range of sources, including the attractions' annual reports and web sites, and from Tourism Victoria's web site.

The level of expansion of the attraction product in Melbourne appears to be producing a very competitive attraction sector. Furthermore, like many other destinations in Australia and around the globe, Melbourne has experienced some cumulative effects of increased levels of global terrorism and changes in the international and Australian aviation industries. Inbound tourism, for example, has marginally declined (Melbourne Aquarium Announces Major Expansion, 2004), but domestic tourism has increased (Melbourne Aquarium Announces Major Expansion, 2004).

In a time of uncertainty, and particularly in the context of expansion of Melbourne's portfolio of tourist attractions, it is important to attract diverse, but compatible, markets and submarkets. …