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Title: Developing a typology of spa-related tourists
Author: Tawil, Rami F.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3499 841X
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2008
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There has been an ongoing debate regarding the r.elationship between spa tourism and health tourism among industry professionals and researchers from various disciplines. In general, spa tourism is viewed as a sub-segment of the broader category of 'health tourism'. Health tourism on a global scale is widely viewed as a broad segment of the tourism industry. Given the growing interest worldwide in spas, the outlook for spa tourism is very promising; there is considerable scope for future research in the spa industry as shown by the dearth of the literature available. However, there is a sense of uncertainty regarding the classification of this segment that makes forecasting problematic. The literature findings were drawn together to identify key issues in order to establish a platform for the primary research data collection. As a consequence of examining the literature review, key issues were identified relating to the nature and significance of spa tourism (aim 1): such as the debate surrounding the classification of spas, and ultimately the definition of spas; the significance of spas to health tourism and to tourism as a whole, in particular the significance of spas in an ever increasingly health-conscious society. Issues relating to the characteristics of spa goers were identified (aim 2), which are examined within the destination choice process (aim 3): such as reasons behind the visit to a spa; factors affecting the choice of one spa destination over another; and the spa holiday experience and feedbacks. In collecting the primary data, a qualitative study was conducted, with the aim to clarify and investigate the apparent gaps and key issues in the literature. This was undertaken to provide a greater level of insight into the field of spa tourism and to answer the research aims. This required developing a framework that was divided into three dimensions based on the key issues raised in the literature, and in relation to the destination facility choice process. This PhD study demonstrated how these three dimensions were used as a guide for the questions asked in the research interviews. These dimensions helped to provide a structured analysis of the results and established the initial platfonn for the classification of spa goers (aim 4). Spa goers' needs, beliefs, behaviours, what makes them participate in a spa-related tourism, as well as spa managers' and experts' perceptions were established. Semi-structured interviews were the most appropriate primary research tools, as the opportunity for tourists and managers to put forward their perspective were available. Given the relatively small number of interviews, the non-use of computer programs were quite justifiable; especially when adopting an interpretive approach and the desire to have the flexibility of human understanding and explanation of the material. To aid the data analysis, coding was used as an appropriate analytical tool that resulted in developing 10 types of spa goers based on the three dimensional framework. The emergence of these types offered further insight into whether they could be simplified into more broad types of spa goers by combining their shared interests. The results were further funnelled and a 4 type broad typology of spa goers was constructed. The findings of the rescarch~were consistent with many of the issucs raised in the literature review findings. This research study has added a ~iunificant amount of new infom1ation to contribute to the e:
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available