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Scuba Diving: Travel Motivation of Malaysian Recreational Divers

Anamaria Anthony Higher Diploma in International Hotel and Tourism Management HTMi, Switzerland

Background Information In several literatures, the academic profile for tourist motivation and the behaviour of tourists has been raised in several years. (Swarbrooke and Horner, 2007). Understanding how motivators affect the process of traveller and tourists decision-making can benefit the tourism planning and marketing. (Swarbrooke and Horner, 2007). One of the popular models to understand travel motivation is the Push and Pull model (Kim and Lee, 2002). The model gives useful approach to study the different factors that affect travellers motivation and behaviour of their visit (Beeton, 2006). The push factors are those that make a person decided to go travel and the pull factors are those that influence the decision of a person of where to travel and it gives them a better understanding in decision making process (Pizam and Mansfeld, 2000). Nonetheless, tourism occurrence is the main focus of the theories (Swarbrooke and Horner, 2007). In diving tourism, it has been identified as one of the fastest sectors in tourism industry (UNWTO, 2010). Recreational diving is also known as Scuba diving where Scuba means self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. An estimated of 2.5-3.5 million Americans participated in recreational scuba diving in addition to 500 thousand become certified each year in the United States (Martin, 1997). According to Tourism Queensland, in 2003 estimated about 5-7 million active recreational scuba divers worldwide. Looking into history, recreational scuba diving developed from some related activities such as snorkelling and underwater spear fishing (Gambar, 2007). Throughout the years, many people got themselves involved in breath-hold diving, which is also knows as free diving.

In the 19th century, scuba diving and its history became more known because the new technologies in scuba diving. All the way through the 20th century, the inventions of scuba equipment improved. Scuba gear shops began to open and popular movies about diving and ships, including Titanic in 1997, has made new divers became more interested and veterans of history got inspired (Freeland, 2006). Recreational scuba divers not only come from the western countries but also from all the developed eastern countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Malaysia (Davison, 2007). It is vital to understand the motivation behind the growth of scuba diving tourism. According to Tourism Queensland (2012), there are a few growths on the academic studies of dive tourism. However, scuba divers in the Caribbean Island of Grand Cayman are the only context that has been widely investigated (Taratalos and Austin, 2001). Most researchers only focusing on the western scuba divers rather than the Asian scuba divers. With the lack of detailed case studies that has been made regarding the Malaysian scuba diving and also because of the rapid growths of scuba divers in Malaysia, one of the famous country for scuba diving in South East Asia, the author would like to take the opportunity to know and understand more about the Malaysian scuba divers. In this paper, readers could get a better understanding behind the motivation of the Malaysian scuba divers and their expectation on diving in Malaysia. This paper could also help in the future planning of marketing essentially on dive tourism.

Consumer Behaviour in Tourism Motivation and Behaviour

Travellers Motivation According to Swarbrooke and Horner (2007), the best way to understand the behaviour of a tourist is to understand the reason why people travel and in order to understand why they travel is to know what their motivation to travel is. Different factors are used to influence the process of decision-making. Some factors that is taken into consideration in decision-making process includes past experience, age and the differences of an individual, belief in personal status and an increase of commitment (Dietrich, 2010). The way motivation had influenced tourists in consumer behaviour is by different approaches because the studies of motivation in tourism is varied. According to Cooper et al. (2005), how motivation is influencing tourists consumer behaviour has been mentioned by various authors such as Dann (1981) as one of the authors. Dann (1981) has pointed out the seven approach to motivation includes travel is a response to what is lacking yet desired, destination pull in response to motivational push, motivation is fantasy, motivation as classified purpose, motivational typologies, motivational and tourist experiences and motivation as auto definition and meaning. It is suggested that these seven approaches has demonstrate definitional fuzziness (cited in Cooper et al., 2005). Nonetheless, if the seven approaches are not clearly clarified, it may be disorganised.

Push and Pull factor in Tourism In most literature, the push and pull factors are most discussed in travellers motivation (Crompton, 1979). The reason that the concept of push and pull is involved is because that it involved the theory of travellers goes for travelling because they are being pushed or perhaps being pulled by some characteristics of a certain destination (Lam and Hsu, 2006). The push factors has been describe to provide different encouragement for travellers to travel to a destination and the pull factors is the other way around where it helps the destination area itself to attract the travellers to travel to that destination (Boniface and Cooper, 2009; Uysal and Hagan, 1993). According to Dann (1981), the destination to travel is the pull factor in response to the motivational to travel is the push factor. This is different between the motivation of the individual tourist in terms of the level of desire, which is the push factor, and the pull factor of the destination to travel or the attraction of the destination. The push factor is a component that creates motivation to travel, which means it motivate the desire for travellers to go for travelling (Kim et al. 2003). According to Boniface and Cooper (2009), the push factor are mainly concerned with the stage of economic development in the generating are and will include such factors as levels of affluence, mobility, and holiday entitlement. It is also the humans wants or basic desires in travelling and those are the basic motives for the social psychology (Lam and Hsu, 2006). It is basically the longing to be away from the normal typical everyday life or environment, fulfilling a dream, relaxation, seeking for an adventure and socialization. Most common motivation studies of tourism have these factors (Uysal and Jurowski, 1994).

The pull factors, on the other hand, are theorized as the attractions of a destination that attracts travellers who has made their decision to travel in their chosen destination (Kim et al. 2003). It is basically letting the travellers to realize or to be aware of the needs of a specific experience during their travel. Some of the examples of the needs during a travel experience are the sceneries, the famous and historical tourist spot, the beaches or the activities that they can do during their travelling experience. According to Boniface and Cooper (2009), the pull factor in tourism includes the accessibility and the attractions that the destination area provides. The cost of the visit is also relatively vital, as it is the effective marketing and promotion by the chosen destination. Yet, the most important pull factor in Australia for Scuba diving is the Great Barrier Reef, beautiful underwater scenery and the unique mix of adventure. Advance studies have revealed the difference in pull factors caused different type of tourist topologist and different destinations. There are two discrete points that had been categorized by Klenosky (2002) regarding the push and pull factor which is one of the points is focusing on whether to go and the other points is focusing on where to go. Only if the two separate points on push and pull factors is clearly understood, logically the push factor should be analyse first before the pull factor. The reason being was because the desire to go travelling is needed in order for travellers to choose the destination to go travel (Dann, 1981). Nonetheless, the push and pull factor still should be analyse together.

Diving Tourism in Literature

Evolution of Scuba Diving The Ministry of Tourism Malaysia mentioned that the dive tourism in Malaysia is one of the high components of marine tourism. The Ministry has been promoting some of the tourism icons in Malaysia such as Sipadan, one of the best scuba diving destinations in South East Asia (UNWTO, 2010). Some countries that are highly active on scuba diving had analyzed the inbound tourist from Malaysia (Tourism Thailand, 2010; Tourism Indonesia, 2011; Tourism Australia, 2011). The estimated amount of new divers being certified yearly is about 600, 000 according to The Professional Association on Diving Instructors (PADI), which is six percent of annual growth (UNWTO, 2010). Scuba is a short form that means self-contained underwater breathing apparatus. In the early years of 19501970, the most participants who participate in scuba diving are young men. As the world became more advance, today people in different age groups and both sexes participate in scuba diving (Martin, 1997). Scuba diving is widely known as recreational scuba diving, where it needs specialized equipment to go underwater and participants requires training in order to dive. Same as other sport such as snow skiing, wall climbing, horseback riding, sky diving, sailing and many more adventure sport. In this section, the author will provide an overview of scuba diving and its evolution. According to Martin (1997), in the early years, scuba diving is made only for the militaries and commercial applications. As scuba diving became more popular, it slowly opens to the public but only young men participate in such sport. Limited and maybe no training were given to scuba divers in the early days.

Now, every scuba divers both men and women, teenagers to adults are properly trained and for their safety, they are made aware of all the potential hazards that can occur during scuba diving if training is not taken seriously. Recreational scuba diving is actually a related sport from snorkelling and underwater hunting. From the year of 1950-1060 this sport is actually limited to those who can afford to make their own scuba diving kit and they need to be prepared to undergo an intensive training with their own hand made kit (Gambar, 2007). According to Gambar (2007), he added that in scuba diving today the developments of the worlds technology have reduced the cost of scuba training and the cost of the diving. It has become more and more popular and most diving locations offers dive training in their dive centre.

Diving Tourism in Malaysia

Overview of Malaysian Divers The latest Malaysia outbound market share analysis by the Thailands Tourism statistics (2012) showed the increase from 103, 666 in 2006 to 162, 360 in 2012. Comparing to the other countries listed in the report such as China, Russia, Japan, Korea, India, Laos, United Kingdom, Australia and United states, Malaysia is listed as the second most visited to Thailand. This showed that there is a slot for the dive tourism market from Malaysia, which can be focused on the future development. Based on the authors understanding and knowledge on Malaysian Divers most young people from Malaysia who goes to Philippines and Thailand for travelling will either go for dive travel or for vacations? Nice beaches surround Philippines and Thailand; travellers from Malaysia who goes there for a vacation will end up trying out scuba diving.

Dive tourism is known as adventure, leisure or sport tourism. It is one of the new fastest growing tourism in the world (UNWTO, 2010). According to Tourism Queensland (2012), there are a few growths on the academic studies of dive tourism. However, scuba divers in the Caribbean Island of Grand Cayman are the only context that has been widely investigated (Taratalos and Austin, 2001). The author to analyse the secondary research uses the theory of the push and pull model. The author suggests that the main reason and motivation of why the Malaysians go for scuba diving domestic or internationally is because that they want to escape from their daily routine. The author is a scuba diver herself in Malaysia and her motivation to go for scuba diving in to escape from her average daily routine and according to her experience most Malaysians will go for scuba diving during the weekend just to escape their hectic everyday routine and to experience new dive site.

Due to the limitation of the research paper, there is a restriction on the literature of scuba diving. The research is only focusing on the dive travel in Thailand and the Philippines. This research may provide a way to further the studies in the scuba diving phenomenon and the motivation on scuba diving in Malaysia. It is recommended that in the future, more studies can be made in order to explore the external environment that may or will affect the scuba divers motivation in making a choice for their dive travel destination. It is also recommended to make a study to acknowledge that scuba diving is a safe sport for everyone from young youth to adults.

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