Brief Literature Review on Unique Characteristics of Tourism Industry

By Raj Krishnamurthy

The literature review has established viewpoints of other authors about unique characteristics of tourism industry. Literature review has revealed the following unique characteristics of tourism industry as summarised by TSA project in 2008:

Firstly, the tourism is not an industry. The rationale behind this viewpoint relates to the idea that tourism comprises a wide range of individual businesses in a wide range of areas such as catering, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing and others. However, this viewpoint is not shared by all authors and many prominent authors in the area of tourism such as Webb (2009), Solomon and Rabolt (2009) and Rajagopal (2010) still refer to tourism as an industry.

Secondly, in tourism consumers come to products. It is not possible to import tourism products and services or to provide them to customers through other channels and this point can be specified as an important distinctive feature of tourism industry from other industries.

Thirdly, in tourism location is a part of the product. In tourism industry it is difficult to make a clear distinction between the value of a tourism destination and a wide range of products and services offered in this destination. In other words, tourism interconnects many separate businesses into a single entity (Schiffman et. al., 2012).


Unique Characteristics of Tourism Industry

Moreover, according to literature review findings there are range of systems that can be applied in order to characterise tourism destinations. For example, a system proposed by Pearce (2005) identifies six different labels in tourism industry and explains characteristics of each label.

Label Emphasis Characteristics and examples of the system
Activities Physical Listings, profiles, GIS approach
Settings Physical Public management agencies use of zones using a biophysical basis
Facilities Physical Micro-environments and service escapes: the immediate physical features of the tourist space
Service Social Personnel: the characteristics of personnel in the service quality framework
Hosts Social Community responses and reception; social representations of tourism and differences in community views
Management Social Marketing labels and management actions and branding using existing and new tourism infrastructure and themes

Systems for Characterising Tourism Destinations

Source: Pearce (2005)

Travel Motivators

Krippendorf (1987) addresses the issue of tourism motivation in a detailed manner. Rozetka Krippendorf (1987) stresses two important features of tourism motivation. Firstly, unlike many other types of products and services tourists are motivated by ‘going away from’ rather than ‘going towards’ something. Secondly, consumer motivations are self-oriented in tourism industry in a greater extent compared to many other industries.

Moreover, learning and beliefs are central themes to the topic of human motivation and thus, these topics need to be addressed as well when discussing human motivations from consumer behaviour viewpoint.

Hudson (2008) defines learning in tourism settings relates to ways in which stimuli is received and interpreted by visitors. Travel motivators relate to core reasons for the travel and they may relate to physical, emotional, personal, cultural and status-related reasons (Paramasur, 2012). Additionally, Schiffman et. al. (2012) specify personal development via gaining new knowledge and gaining new skills and capabilities as important sources of travel motivation.



Attitudes in tourism settings can be defined as “ingrained feelings about various factors of an experience” (Hudson, 2008, p.44). Attitudes depend on perceptions of individuals about the world (Blythe, 1997). Consumer attitudes are difficult to be changed partially because they are embedded into emotional level about various characteristics of a tourism experience.

Palani and Sohrabi (2013) specify three integral components of attitude as cognitive, affective, and conative components that correspond to learning feeling and doing. Palani and Sohrabi (2013) apply components of attitude to tourism sector in a detailed manner by referring to real-life case studies in tourism and hospitality sector.



A relationships exists between customer perceptions and their buying behaviour (Blythe, 1997, Arnould et al., 2002). Perceptions are specified as mental impressions and the impact of perception in consumer behaviour has been addressed by Hudson (2008). High level of impact of cultural background on perceptions has been stressed by a number of authors including (Ritchie, 2009), Rajagopal (2010) and Schiffman et. al. (2012).

Majumdar (2010) mentions an important study on consumer perception in convenience foods sector in India. According to findings of the research mentioned by Majumdar (2010), although many young local consumers in India do visit fast-food outlets such as Nirula’s and McDonald’s for fun and experience, fast food does not constitute home-made meal for sample group members. In other words, for the majority of Indian customers fast food chain is merely a place for occasional fun and youth in India generally do not accept fast food as effective substitution for home meal.

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Image in relation to tourism industry is divided by Ritchie (2009) into two categories: organic and induced image. Organic image relates to marketing information in relation to a specific tourism destination that has been developed in order to improve the overall image of the destination. Induced image, on the other hand, refers to image of a specific tourism destination that has been developed by tourism organisations.


Hudson, S. (2008) “Tourism and Hospitality Marketing: A Global Perspective” SAGE Publications

Krippendorf, J. (1987) “The Holidaymakers” Heinemann

Majumdar, R. (2010) “Consumer Behaviour: Insights from Indian Market” PHI

Palani, S. & Sohrabi, S. (2013) “Consumer Attitudes and Behaviour when Selecting a Holiday Destination: Introducing Kurdistan to the Finnish traveller” University of Applied Science

Paramasur, S.J. (2012) “Consumer Behaviour” Juta Publications

Pearce, P.L. (2005) “Tourist Behaviour: Themes and Conceptual Schemes” Channel View Publications

Rajagopal, N. (2010) “Consumer Behaviour: Global Shifts and Local Effects” Nova Science Pub Incorporated

Schiffman, L.G., Hansen ,H. & Kanuk, L.L. (2012) “Consumer Behaviour: A European Outlook” Prentice Hall

Solomon, M.R. & Rabolt, N.J. (2009) “Consumer Behaviour in Fashion” Prentice Hall

Webb, K. (2009) “Consumer Behaviour” McGraw-Hill Australia

Category: Customer Services