“Understanding the Mass Tourist”

Tourism Survey Report National Geographic Society Center for Sustainable Destinations

This study was designed to assist the National Geographic Society Center for Sustainable Destinations with answering a question related to the presence and impact of mass tourists among the general population in North America.  The findings contained within this report were such that the client organization would be able to form a hypothesis about this group of travellers and pursue further study, if appropriate.

Highlights of the findings included the following:

  • The mass tourist types most frequently engaged in visiting a large resort, visiting a downhill ski resort, taking a cruise and visiting a theme park.
  • Respondents overwhelmingly prefer to book elements of a trip separately. Transportation and accommodations are two elements most frequently booked as a package.
  • Mass tourists defined by a combination of participation in mass tourist travel and preference for booking elements of a trip as  a package; fall into two primary travel types: Visiting a Large Resort and Taking a Cruise.
  • Characteristics of geotourist* travel behavior found most among members of this sample include: An interest in learning about the history and culture of a place before visiting, interacting with local people in the normal environment and having little to no negative impact on the local environment when visiting.
  • Destination characteristics sought by geotourists and viewed as important by members of this sample include the presence of cultural events and historical or archaeological sites.

*Geotourism is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.

Hanna, Darwin, Noon Hilary and Salin, Kristina August 2006 Understanding the Mass Tourist Prepared for the National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations