Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Consumer Choices of International Mountaineering Holiday: A Perspective of Slovak Mountaineering Market towards Slovak Tourism Providers

Academic journal article European Journal of Tourism Research

Consumer Choices of International Mountaineering Holiday: A Perspective of Slovak Mountaineering Market towards Slovak Tourism Providers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Mountaineering on the territory of present day Slovakia1 started in the 17th Century, when the first known climbing in the High Tatra Mountains was done by D. Fröhlich (in 1639). In 1871 the Hungarian Carpathian Club was established, which started a new chapter of climbing in the Tatra Mountains. Services to mountaineers started by lending climbing gears by local villagers in the 17th Century and then by building manned mountaineering huts in the 19th Century (Bucsek 1973). In 1921 the JAMES Mountaineering Club was established in the High Tatra Resort, which - excluding the period of post-war communist regime - up to now supports Slovakian mountaineering activities (JAMES 2001, History 2010). It is a member of the UIAA. Since 1924 the community of Slovakian climbers was organized within Sports Clubs, which managed the training of mountaineers (Bartunkova 2008). Prior to 1989 expeditions to international mountain areas were accessible only to few. After 1989 Slovakian mountaineers started to explore all the available mountain ranges and thus the travel industry developed programs for this demand. Mountaineering is an increasingly popular tourism activity as it relates with modern consumers' main holiday drives of tranquillity, scenic beauty, also danger and challenges (Mountain Agenda, 1999; Weaver and Lawton, 2006; Faullant, Matzler, Mooradian, 2011). The way mountaineering holidays are being packaged are influenced by increasing marketing pressure that encourages mountaineers to turn to travel providers (Goossens, 2000) and by the modern lifestyle that depends on services. Independence in mountaineering tourist travel is becoming uncommon (Swarbrooke and Horner, 2007); commercialization of mountaineering limits the control experts traditionally had over the domain. This is possible as advancement in the field of sensu lato mountaineering enables touring even without prior mountaineering experience or training in similar mountain environments (Beedie and Hudson, 2003; Schejbal 2009). Nevertheless, organising the tour independently instead of following the 'system', can enhance the adventurous experience in a holiday (Swarbrooke, Beard, Leckie and Pomfret, 2003; Lengyel, 2004).

The mountaineering related research is at its beginnings in Slovakian context and this article aims at critically analyzing the consumer choices of Slovak mountaineers for purchase of an international mountaineering holiday from Slovak outbound travel agencies/tour-operators. The aim is to be met by objectives of firstly, analyze how the criteria of customers for an international mountaineering holiday purchase are perceived to be met by the Slovak outbound travel agencies and tour-operators. Secondly, it was sought to understand the issues leading to preferences of a particular holiday arrangement (independent purchase or purchase through Slovak or international travel intermediaries) (Janockova 2010).

Literature review

The definition of mountaineering varies in the literature that deals with its theory due to a recognition that it consists of a number of activities. Most frequently it is referred to in a broader context as a process including a range of activities taking place in mountainous environment (Mountaineering Development Sub Group, Connally, 2005; Millington et al., 2001). This article relates to Gallegos (2006), who defines mountaineering as 'climbing mountains', which 'involves hiking as well as technical climbing abilities to climb from the base of the mountain to the peak and down again, over a variety of surfaces'.

Mountaineering tourism is given an increasing academic attention, which is focused on markets in North America (e.g. Sung, 2004; Buckley, 2006; Sung, Morrison and O'Leary, 1997, 2000), Western Europe (e.g. Greenwood and Yeoman, 2007, Icelandic Tourist Board, 2010) and Australia (e.g. Tourism Research Australia, 2007, Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure, 2008). Despite a growing offer of outbound mountaineering holiday by the Slovak travel agencies/tour-operators, there is a lack of research to support successful marketing strategies for businesses serving the central- and east-European markets. …

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