Bicycle tourism is a niche market that, as this thesis demonstrates, not only has positive tourism impacts, but, for both its participants and the broader community, can provide positive rewards and outcomes. For bicycle tourists, bicycle tourism is a journey that involves much more than riding a bike. This thesis explored the motivations and serious leisure careers of bicycle tourists who participated in a type of cycling event referred to in this thesis as ‘Big Rides’. Big Rides are fully supported, non-competitive cycling events that travel through parts of rural and regional Australia. While research does exist in the areas of leisure motivation and serious leisure, the application of these theoretical frameworks to bicycle tourism has yet to emerge. This thesis addresses this gap and provides both industry and academics with valuable insights into bicycle tourism and bicycle tourists. Guided by a pragmatic worldview, this research used a range of research methods to collect both qualitative and quantitative data, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews and an online survey. This data was collected from participants of three Big Rides during 2007 and 2008,with these rides being located in the Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Results from this study indicate that bicycle tourists could be classified as experience seekers, and highlight that the decision to participate in a Big Ride is the result of a range of motivations, with participants being driven by the desire to satisfy a range of needs. In particular, participants in this study are looking for a unique experience in which they can benefit from an active holiday, interact with like-minded people, and meet the personal and physical challenge of completing a unique event. The pull of the Big Ride is that it is a complex and unique event that provides all of these elements in a supportive environment. Results from this study also confirmed that, for many participants of Big Rides, cycling is likely to be a serious leisure activity for them, with many participants exhibiting each of the six characteristics that distinguish serious leisure from project-based leisure or casual leisure. Due to the training and preparation required to complete a Big Ride, those who are not participating in serious leisure are likely to be participating in project-based leisure. This study adds to our understanding of bicycle tourism and bicycle tourists, which can be extrapolated to other forms of active sport tourism. While this thesis has contributed to our understanding of bicycle tourism and bicycle tourists, it has also highlighted areas of further research, including the need to further investigate the role of gender in leisure choices and participation, and the suggested value of longitudinal studies focusing on leisure choices and participation.
|Date of Award
|Trevor MULES (Supervisor) & John Dodd (Supervisor)