Understanding the Relation between Serious Surfing, Surfing Profile, Surf Travel Behaviour and Destination Attributes Preferences

By Portugal, Ana Cristina; Campos, Francisco et al. | European Journal of Tourism Research, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Understanding the Relation between Serious Surfing, Surfing Profile, Surf Travel Behaviour and Destination Attributes Preferences


Portugal, Ana Cristina, Campos, Francisco, Martins, Fernando, Melo, Ricardo, European Journal of Tourism Research


Introduction

Surf tourism

Surfing is a wave activity with its roots in Hawaiian culture and tradition (Buckley, 2002a). Since the early 1900's, surfing has grown as sport of Western civilization (Dolnicar & Fluker, 2003b). Since the 1960's, the popularity of surfing has progressively increased (Barbieri & Sotomayor, 2013; Ponting, 2008) due to the cultural changes of that period (Wheaton, 2010). Surf tourism started with independent adventure travellers searching for new surfing spots, driven by the quality of the surfing experience in other regions or climates (Barbieri & Sotomayor, 2013). This kind of travel peaked in the 1960s because of the image of surfing culture delivered by mass media, as well as more affordable travel and the development of lighter materials (Barbieri & Sotomayor, 2013; Lazarow, Miller, & Blackwell, 2008). Surf tourism gained economic, social and environmental significance and has become a significant component of the adventure (sport) tourism sector (Buckley, 2002a; 2002b). Surf tourism is generally defined as travelling at least 40 km away from home, to domestic or international destinations, staying for at least one night and no more than 12 months, with surfing the primary purpose for travel. This includes active participants in surfing activities, as well as the spectators of events and those who follow them on their surfing trips (Buckley, 2002a; Dolnicar & Fluker 2003a, 2003b, 2004; Fluker, 2003; Ponting, 2008).

Nowadays, surf travellers rely on surfing tour operators to help them manage their surfing trips, which has led to a "global industry involving thousands of tour operators, village home stays, resorts, charter boats, wholesalers, retail travel agents, and vertically integrated service combinations around the world" (Barbieri & Sotomayor, 2013, p. 112). Recent research calculated that 112 countries have available surfing tours or surfing-related information for tourists (Ponting, 2008), fostering a multimillion-dollar industry that stimulates local economies (Barbieri & Sotomayor, 2013).

The growth of surfing and surf tourism sector has gained academic attention (Martin & Assenov, 2012). Surfing research started in the 1970's (e.g., Kelly, 1973), and continued into the 1980's (e.g., Johnson & Orbach, 1986; Markrich, 1988) and 1990's (e.g., Breedveld, 1995; Poizat-Newcomb, 1999a, 1999b). However, the growing body of literature specifically on surf tourism emerged in the 21st century (Martin & Assenov, 2012), especially in the last ten years. During that period, a variety of topics have been covered, such as analyses of surfers' demographic and economic statistics, travel patterns, behaviour and preferences (e.g. Buckley, 2002a, 2012; Dolnicar & Fluker, 2003b), the surfing imaginary (e.g. Ponting, 2008, 2009; Ponting & McDonald, 2013), analyses of conservation and the sustainability of surf tourism (e.g. Buckley, 2002a, 2002b; Martin & Assenov, 2014a, 2014b; O'Brien & Ponting, 2013; Ponting & O'Brien, 2014) and the impact of surfing events (e.g. Getz & Fairley, 2003; O'Brien, 2007).

The surfing industry in Portugal is also growing but there are no publications that identify its global economic significance. There is some evidence to indicate the growth of this sector, particularly the growth in the number of surfers (Melo, 2013), the growth in the development of more specialized services such as surf schools and surf camps, and the increase in the market for surfing-related consumer brands (Moutinho, Dionísio, & Leal, 2007). Portugal is one of the best countries in Europe in which to develop surfing activities: it has a continental coast of almost 1000 km, hosting large numbers of beaches with excellent surfing quality. These natural conditions, along with internationally renowned spots such as Ericeira (recognized during 2011 as the first World Surf Reserve in Europe, and the second one in the entire world) and Peniche (the Portuguese Capital of the Wave), and the organization of national and international top level events such as the World Surf Leagues, has allowed Portugal to create a positive destination image related to surfing (Melo, 2013). …

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