A study of students’ travellers values and needs in order to establish futures patterns and insights

Elena Cavagnaro*, Simona Staffieri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


PurposeIf the only viable future for tourism is sustainable tourism then ways should be sought to increase the demand for sustainable offers. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether sustainability values influence the travel needs of students. The aim is to discover cues in the present behaviour of young tourists that can enhance sustainable travel choices and therefore secure the future of the tourism industry. Moreover, the study provides a solid basis for predicting the future travel behaviour of young tourists. Design/methodology/approachData were collected in The Netherlands in 2013 through a survey. A non‐probabilistic sample of 365 students (a sub‐group of young tourists) was reached. Multivariate analyses were used to test whether position in the social structure and value orientation influence the travel need. The logistic models allowed youth tourism behaviour to be predicted. FindingsRespondents with a biospheric value orientation associate travel with being in contact with nature and chose rest as a motivation. This is highly interesting from a future perspective because biospheric values are considered the most stable antecedent of sustainable behaviour. Findings also highlight women's role as the sustainable tourists of the future: women harbour strong sustainability values and see travel as a growth opportunity. Research limitations/implicationsThis research focuses on travel needs because this is the most future‐oriented phase of the tourism experience, and on students because they tend to travel independently. Future research might include travel consumption and evaluation as well as non‐students in the sample to give a more balanced view on young tourists. Future research might also include values not related to sustainability to assess their relative strengths in influencing youth tourism. Practical implicationsBoth policy makers and industry could capitalise on the sustainability values already present in young people's need for travel to nudge this group – who represents tourism's future – towards a sustainable tourism choice. For example, strengthening sustainability values through marketing and education will increase demand for a sustainable offer. Originality/valueValues related to sustainability influence general tourism choices by young travellers, and not only choices related to a sustainability offer. This finding suggests a path to address the classic dilemma between individualism and sustainability and assure tourism's future by showing young travellers that they already harbour sustainability values.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-107
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Tourism Futures
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16-Mar-2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Tourism future
  • Travel meaning
  • Travel motivation
  • Values
  • Youth tourism


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