Conceptualising supply-side seasonality in tourism : a study of the temporal trading behaviours for small tourism businesses in Scotland
Seasonality in tourism is one of its most enduring features. During the past half century, the phenomenon has been studied extensively in order to gain insight into its dynamics. However, much of the empirical evidence has been developed from a demand-side perspective, focusing on the temporal travel behaviours and motivations of consumers. Conversely, relatively little attention has been paid to tourism's diverse supply-side elements, especially those at the destination. This study aims to redress that imbalance. It considers a key element of the destination mix in Scotland, the privately operated small tourism related business, specifically those who operate their business on a seasonal basis. Such businesses epitomise supply-side seasonality, yet their temporal operating behaviours and the underlying motivations and influences of these have evaded systematic examination. The thesis is therefore an attempt to aid understanding of the relationships between tourism seasonality and small business service provision. It represents an inductive, interpretivistic approach to the subject. In reviewing the tourism seasonality and small business literatures, it is argued that existing constructs of seasonality, entrepreneurialism and growth orientation, family business and 'lifestyle' business fail to shed light on the complexities of temporal trading among small businesses and indeed on the meanings of 'seasonality' from a supply-side perspective. Moreover, findings from an exploratory study and contextual literature reveal a variety of contextual factors that impinge on temporal trading behaviours. A nationwide survey of seasonally trading Scottish small businesses identifies distinct patterns of behaviour, influences and motivations according to type of business, demographic and contextual variables. Disposition and circumstance are identified as key formative elements in conceptualising supply-side temporal behaviours.