Volume: 36, No: 1, Year: 2011  

Searching for Well-being: Exploring Change in Tourist Motivation


The relationship between tourism, health and well-being is a complex one based on interactions between the motivations of the travellers and the opportunities provided by the destinations. Much of the discussion to date has been dominated by descriptions of emerging opportunities and services, a focus on the provision of services such as health spas and wellness retreats and definitions based on this supply rather than demand. This paper argues that the focus on the supply side can distort our understanding of the phenomenon and therefore focuses on the demand side of wellness tourism and explores tourist motivation in a series of surveys conducted with tourists to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef region over a seven year period. An analysis of the changing patterns of travel motivation to this destination provides some evidence that tourist motives to this region have moved towards incorporating a greater focus on aspects of well-being. More detailed examination of the recent surveys revealed the existence of two motive clusters with links to wellness – one focussed on family well-being and the other one emphasizing the restorative elements of being in a natural environment. The results support the existence of two different expressions of an interest in well-being reflecting an inner–outer directedness dichotomy common in psychology. The paper concludes with implications for understanding wellness tourism and tourism motivation in general.

Keywords: well-being; inner-directed; outer-directed; Great Barrier Reef; tourist motivation..

© Copyright Tourism Recreation Research & Tej Vir Singh