An approach to the use of GPS in tourism surveys to define itineraries


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An approach to the use of GPS in tourism surveys to define itineraries

  1. 1. An approach to the use of GPS in tourism surveys to defineitinerariesAranda Palmero, EvaTNS Demoscopia, Account, +(34) 91 432 87 44Castellanos Quintana, VicenteTNS Demoscopia, Account +(34) 91 432 87 43Abstract:INRouTe has defined a list of 20 topics for which will design general guidelinesduring the period 2012/2015. Three of these topics have been selected as apriority, being “Tourism itineraries” one of them. The main objective of this paper isto give some ideas on how GPS, combined with tourism surveys, could help definetourism itineraries and analyse the role of tourism itineraries in the development ofregional tourism.How can GPS devices help to know existing tourism itineraries? To what extent canbe used to create new itineraries adapted to different tourist profiles?. How couldcontribute the knowledge of the itinerary to identify the “real” purpose of the visit?Do tourists define their own itineraries? Are these itineraries known by tourismauthorities? These are some of the questions we’ll answer through this paper.Our analysis and findings will be based on our experience using this combinedmethodology, an area of activity to which TNS Demoscopia has devoted manyefforts during last three years and has used in National Parks. To support ourfindings we’ll also offer a special data analysis from the results obtained in ourresearch.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 1
  2. 2. IntroductionThe analysis of a tourism itinerary can be made in different levels. Phileas Foggmade a very long itinerary in his eighty days trip around the world. Tourists visitinga country can also make long itineraries visiting several regions. We also consideritineraries the route around a single city visiting its main historical places. Whatdoes all this different itineraries have in common? Let’s use the Oxford dictionaryword definition:Itinerary: a planned route or journey. A travel document recording a route orjourney. Late Middle English: from late Latin itinerarium, neuter of itinerarius of ajourney or roads, from Latin iter, itiner- journey, road.There are two key words in the definition: route / journey and planned.From the point of view of tourism policy makers, the design of itineraries would beto define a planned route for the tourists visiting their destination. The developmentof itineraries can be a crucial point in order to increase the quantity and quality oftourism. Finding itineraries adapted to their likes and circumstances can be one ofthe key points for tourists to enjoy a destination, and to return. For tourism policymakers, the design of itineraries makes possible showing all the interesting places,avoiding concentrating tourism in just one point preventing the risk of overcrowdingor dangerous environmental impacts.At national level, policy makers can design different itineraries, that would includevisiting different places in different regions, like (in the case of Spain) “the route ofthe Spanish language”, “the Way of Saint James” or “the silver route”, but it is atthe subnational/regional level where the design of itineraries can be moreproductive.Regional tourist administrations design itineraries that allow the visitor to knowbetter the destination, understanding “destination” as the region itself. Once thetourist is there the objective has to be making the visit as profitable as possible,showing the entire region’s attractiveness that would make the tourist to besatisfied, stay in it, and (in the best scenario) return one day.All regions know perfectly which are their main tourist attractions and can designtheir own itineraries, but probably there is still something to learn in that sense.Adapt the itinerary to the tourist expectations and possibilities are crucial to beTNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 2
  3. 3. successful. Common sense is the best ally when designing the itineraries, but ourexperience has shown that using statistical data is also very useful.Our proposal would be including statistical information in the design of touristitineraries. In concrete, we propose the use of tourism surveys combined with GPSinformation. As we will expose through this paper, knowing what really the touristdo (exact route they make), together with their socio demographic characteristics,expectations, activities and satisfaction, can be used to design or re-design tourismitineraries.During the last three years there has been an area of activity in TNS Demoscopia,as a methodological framework first and as a real experience afterwards, focused inincluding Geographic Location Technology in the measurement of touristic flows.The practical implementation has been in two Natural Parks in Spain: “ParqueRegional de la Sierra de Gredos” and “Parque Natural de la Tinença de Benifassà”.The fact of having undertaken the research in Natural Parks has given us theopportunity of enshrining the work into the European Charter for SustainableTourism in Protected Areas. The Charter is a practical management tool whichhelps protected areas to continuously improve the sustainable development and themanagement of tourism taking account of the needs of the environment, the localpopulation and the local tourism businesses.In the following lines we will, therefore, give practical details on our work, andshow some interesting results, some of them completely linked to the design oftourism itineraries.Combining GPS tracks with tourism surveysThis new methodological proposal combines two sources of data: opinion, obtainedby questionnaires, and behaviour data - waypoints registers got form GPS devices.The goal of the research has been analysing and understanding visitor’s behaviourinside the natural areas, in relation with the global tourism phenomenon in eachone of the regions where they are placed.The fieldwork consisted on the following phases:Recruitment of participants: the first step was to recruit those individuals who wereto act as informants in the study. For this purpose, the interviewer was located inthe main entrances of the National Parks and after explaining the objectives of theTNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 3
  4. 4. research, offered the visitor the possibility of participating in the research bycarrying a GPS device during their entire visit. Once we got the agreement, wemade the recruitment using a computerized questionnaire, and gave the GPS toone of the persons of the visitors group.Record of the track (trip): The GPS was programmed to record the entire track. Aswe will explain later, the GPS device was a datalogger, which doesn’t have anyscreen or utility that the visitor could use, thus, for the interviewee was likecarrying “a small stone” in the pocket as they can’t do anything with it. Every fiveseconds, the GPS records the coordinate where the transporter is located andstorages it in a data file.Interview at the end of the visit: The interviewer was waiting for the informants atthe exit of the park (which in these cases was the same point that the entrance).The interviewer downloaded the track into the computer, the track was processedand an ad-hoc questionnaire was made. We say an ad-hoc questionnaire because itwas adapted to the exact route the visitor had made.The questionnaire: Most of the questions were referred to the exact points theinterviewee had visited. These “exact points” could be: - Points of Interest (POIs): The Natural Parks have some Points of interests identified, like a lake, a fountain, a mountain shelter... So, if the visitor had passed closed to than point of interest, (depending or the concrete point), a battery of three or four questions were asked about it. Of course, if he/she hadn’t passed through it, no questions about it were asked. - Stops: We considered it very interesting to ask about those places where people stops during the visit but are not predefined as points of interest. May be there is a nice landscape, or a great place to sit down and take a rest, or a shady place to have lunch. So, in the questionnaire we asked about the three main stops the visitor had made, asking about the purpose and the perceived satisfaction about it. In the following points of this paper we will explain how we defined these stops.Apart from that information, the questionnaire recorded also information about thetrip, expenses and general satisfaction with several issues of the park.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 4
  5. 5. Of course, it was completely unnecessary to ask about places visited, tracksfollowed, number and duration of stops, or total length of their visit, for example;all that information had been automatically recorded by the GPS device and wecould consequently use an easier and shorter questionnaire.Data analysis: The analysis of the data was made combining information form thequestionnaire and from the GPS. We could check that the geographical perspectivehad a lot to explain, revealing itself as an extremely meaningful variable to takeinto consideration.Visitor’s profile and purpose of the visitItineraries have to be adapted to tourist profile. There should be a wide offer ofitineraries for different tourist profiles. But, what’s a tourist profile?As a starting point, we would say that socio demographic characteristics are a keypoint. Families travelling with children will have a completely different behaviourthan a young couple or a big group of seniors, but there are many other factors,more to do with expectations or desires are very important to define the touristprofile.Some people might want to relax, go to the beach and just to the beach, lyingdown on the sand without any desire of knowing what the surroundings could offer,or might want to go an exclusive wellness or to stay in a seaside resort with manyleisure activities also for children within. Some other tourists would want todiscover the destination, visiting a city or a region, going to museums and exploringthe art and culture, or even the natural areas. There is also a group of touristswhose main objective is to enjoy, tasting the destination’s gastronomy, goingshopping, playing sports, going to great events or enjoying nightlife.For many years, tourism statistics have compile information on the purpose of thevisit that is one of the main factors to identify a tourist profile. The way tourismstatistics measure the purpose of the visit has shown to be very poor in order toanalyse what the tourist really want to do, what his/her profile is.All the examples given above would be “Holiday purpose” and the profile of atourist who wants to relax is completely different from the one who wants todiscover or to enjoy.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 5
  6. 6. During the last years, tourism authorities are going deeper into the analysis oftourist profiles and lifestyles, giving more and more importance to the activitiesdone by the tourist in the destination in order to define tourism typologies andproducts. The inclusion of activities in the analysis gives great information to have abetter identification of the tourist profile, but there would be another interestingvariable to include in the analysis: itineraries and the points visited.Points visited are completely linked with the activities carried out during the visit.And it’s here where the use of GPS tracks can do its bit.Defining Itineraries in Natural AreasThe initial hypothesis, that we will try to clarify through the following pages is, thata relationship between the tourist profile and the itinerary carried out in the NaturalPark exists. We will try to verify this hypothesis from a special ad-hoc analysis (forthis paper) out of the two mentioned surveys in Natural Parks.Two types of information are normally recorded, when collecting information aboutitineraries through the use of GPS devices: tracks and stops.We take reference of the movement, but we also take reference of the stops orpauses. As in the music, where the silences also make melody, in the itineraries,the pauses/stops also define a track.Unnoticed information record on movements/tracks provides us data, amongothers, of the distance, average speed, slope, height (maximum or minimum, andaccumulated), etc.On the other hand, recording information on stops or pauses give usinformation on the number, length, time elapsed in between, etc. The definition ofthe stops is one of the most important aspects in the design/definition of theparameters of the study.Derived from the information about the movements, there is another importantdata that is collected: the Points of Interests (POIs) visited. The terminology ofgeographically referenced studies uses the term Point of interest, for thosecoordinates that corresponds to a location that has special relevance, from theperspective of the final user of the information. A point of interest couldconsequently be an artistic or archaeological site, a place of concentration ofpeople, a crossroad, or as it is in the case of the present research, places of speciallandscape value; viewpoints, lagoons, etc.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 6
  7. 7. Consequently the most frequently used variables in the measurement of itineraries,indeed applied in this analysis of the routes in natural parks, are as follows: a) Distance covered, defined as the sum of the separations, in meters, between the set of points in the path of the route (GPS can be programmed to register information every x seconds, depending on the type of transport media i.e.). b) Stops during the itinerary, defined as period of a minimum defined time, where the distance between points doesn’t exceed the error margin for the GPS. c) Points of interest: Coordinates (X,Y1) that situates a point in which what we want to locate is georeferenced. These POIs are perfectly defined and have to be used as an additional variable in the analysis.In addition to these, we used other variables that might be specific to the scope ofthis survey considering nature tourism or tourism in national parks.The specific variables used in the study of the itineraries in natural parks areas,given the particularity of the itineraries are as follows: a) Height; in example we consider the initial/final height, the cumulate height, or the average height between the beginning and the end of the journey. b) Inclination; This variable offer an idea of the steep of the track, registering the increase in high in between two points, it is normally expressed in percentage.Derived from the previous variables we also obtained other composed variablessuch as; a) The average speed, a function of the distance travelled by the time spent. b) The accumulated: heights, distance, slope, etc.Information about tourism profile is got form a standard questionnaire, thatrecords information about socio demographic characteristics, purpose of the visit,1 In Natural Areas surveys a Z axis/coordinate should be also consider.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 7
  8. 8. means of transport, activities, perceived satisfaction on different issues, and touristexpenses.Data on purpose of the visit was recorded using two questions, first one was thestandard one of this issue, with the categories defined by Eurostat, and second onetried to be more specific and adapted to the park. With the first question (standardone) we could see that 95,5% of the tourists were there for “holidays / leisure”purposes, which doesn’t give very rich information..With the second question we went in depth to the main purpose of the leisure visitto the park, and we got the following breakdown that will be used form now on inthe analysis. a) General Visit to the Natural Park. b) Participating in Specific Activity in the Natural Park. c) Visit the area and then the Natural Park.The main interest of this analysis is to obtain a statistically valid relationshipbetween the tourist profile and the itinerary followed during the visit to the nationalpark.Tracks characteristics and purpose of the visitFrom the point of view of the itineraries, we have identified significant differences insome important variables such as length, distance, speed, or the maximum heightreached, according to the different purpose of the visit.In terms of itinerary length, for example, we see that those who have as mainreason to visit the Natural park participating in a specific activity, mostly trekking,develop longer itineraries than those others that visit the Park just as a part of agreater province/region travel. Itinerary Average LengthMain Purpose of the Visit (in time)Participating in Specific Activity in the Natural Park 4 Hrs. y 55 min.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 8
  9. 9. General Visit to the Natural Park 3 Hrs. y 28 min.Visit the area and then the Natural Park. 3 Hrs. y 3 min.Total average 3 Hrs. y 39 min.The track carried out for those who visit the natural Park with a specific goal, isalmost 40% higher than those who visit it with a more general purpose, (F=6.013 /P=0.003).Despite the fact that both variables correlate positively, (R = 0. 693), we have alsofound a relationship between the main concrete purpose of the visit and the totaldistance travelled during the visit.Main Purpose of the Visit Itinerary Average Length (in Kilometers)Participating in Specific Activity in the Natural Park 18.5General Visit to the Natural Park 8.6Visit the area and then the Natural Park 7,1Total average 9,9The difference found between groups (F=17,181 / P=0.000), it’s also affected bythe means of transport, because some of the itineraries registered include bicycles,and this might interfere the total length of the itineraries; nevertheless we did notfound any itinerary done by bicycles that did not look for performing this as anParticipating in Specific Activity in the Natural Park.Finally, considering the shape of the itinerary we have found statistically significantdifferences regarding the cumulated ascent and descent according to the concretepurpose of the visit to the natural park, as shown in the table below. Cumulated Main Purpose of the Visit Cumulated Ascent Descent (meters) (meters)Participating in Specific Activity in 9.116 9.428the Natural ParkTNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 9
  10. 10. Visit the area and then the Natural 4.344 4.224ParkGeneral Visit to the Park 3.440 3.697Total average 4.966 4.974Apart from the accumulated distances in time and length, visitors with an specificgoal in their visit to the park, will also do steeper itineraries than those visiting thenatural park in general or as a part of a general visit to the area/region as shown inthe following statistical indicators for both variables data [Ascent (F=16,289 /P=0.000) Descent (F=17,544 / P=0.000)].Stops and purpose of the visitFrom the analysis of the stops, we have been looking for any possible relationbetween main purpose of the visit and places where people stopped. In this sensewe found that those who visit the park with the intention of carrying out a specificactivity made a longer first stop, than those who visits the park as part of a largeritinerary (F=4.40 / P= 0.014).Main Purpose of the Visit Average Length for the First StopParticipating in Specific Activity in the Natural Park 18 min 33 seg.Visit the area and then the Natural Park 8 min. 35 seg.General Visit to the Park 10 min. 37 seg.Total 11 min. 32 seg.There are no significant differences in the number of stops according to thethree main reasons of the visit, that’s to say; with significantly longer, in timeand distance, itineraries, those having a specific objective in visiting the park,stopped in average at a longer distance from the other. It is not unreasonable tothink that those who make this type of visit do not stop until they reach its maintarget point.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 10
  11. 11. Apart from the duration of stops, another relevant issue is where they took place.At this point we could find very different behaviors according to the differentreasons for the visit.Points of Interest and purpose of the visitIn this survey study we have set 15 points of interest from the landscape or naturalpoint of view, and we asked the visitors about their opinion, only if they havevisited.Let’s analyze, for example, the situation in the natural park of Castellón, were wehad defined among others the Les Ombries of Benifassà and the Iberian villagearea.The area of services identified as Les Ombries de Benifassà, is one strategic point ofthe Park of la Tinença de Benifassà, from which people have access to overlookingthe nearby reservoir being the heart of the park. This point is a must-visit if youwant to have a general overview of the natural park however, from the point ofview of hiking routes/itineraries it is not the most interesting visit.Among the visitors to the recreational area of Les Ombries de Benifassà only asmall percentage are participating in a specific activity in the Park. Les Ombriesbeing a more propitious stop when you are doing a general visit to the Park (P =0.057).Graphic 1.: Visitors to the POI “ Les Ombríes de Benifassá” by the Main Purpose ofthe Visit. 94,4% 100,0% 69,4% 80,0% 64,3% 60,0% 30,6% 35,7% 40,0% No 20,0% 5,6% Yes 0,0% General Visit to Participating in Visit the area the Natural an specific and then the Park Activity in the Natural Park Natural ParkTNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 11
  12. 12. The Iberian village, on the other hand, is an archaeological ensemble of relativeimportant cultural value and also away from the circuit of regular routes/trekkingproposals.When you look at the stop guidelines at this point, we note that those who havestopped, although they are a very small percentage of visitors (2%), do so becausethis was its original purpose of visit, this is a totally different scenario of the visitfrom the case analyzed before.Graphic 2: Visitors to the POI “Iberian Village” by the Main Purpose of the Visit. 100,0% 100,0% 100,0% 88,9% 90,0% 80,0% 70,0% 60,0% 50,0% 40,0% No 30,0% 11,1% Yes 20,0% 0,0% 0,0% 10,0% 0,0% General Visit to Participating in Visit the area the Natural Park an specific and then the Activity in the Natural Park Natural ParkIn this case, although we do not see a clearly significant relationship, probablyexplained by the weight of the category in the sample, we have identified clearly atrend (P = 0. 79).Itineraries and age of visitorsLast but not least let’s consider the relationship between the main purpose of thevisit and demographic profiles, helping to define specific touristic proposals forspecific touristic profiles, as shown in the map below extracted from the analysis oflength and itinerary slope by age group.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 12
  13. 13. Itineraries By Age Group 18 - 45 45 - 64 65 and overNext stepsThe methodology applied in both cases has led to the characterization of thebehavior of visitors according to age, sex, origin… and allows establishing patternsof interest, mobility and stops by different socio-demographic profiles.Technological change may involve the development of new perspectives in thisregard. It is possible to develop new media, questionnaire, etc. over the internetthat allow interactivity. It is possible to use mobile devices for this same task, inthis we are working currently, which limits the number of them to one andfacilitates their integration and communication with the data center.Technology evolution last year concerning smart phones and tablets gives up realchances to think that mobile and geo-location are the future to measure touristmovements in tourist destinations.In less than 10 years more than 80% of developed countries population will get asmart phone or a tablet connected to internet and all of them with a GSPconnection.For us, a new methodology is taken shape: a first step where we can measurewhere and when tourist are travelling using mobile and geo-location data providedTNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 13
  14. 14. directly by travelers and a second step where we measure more extended dataabout travels implementing adapted questionnaires for these travels.Now the challenge is taking advantage of new features provided by social mediaand geo location applications for smart phones. People are already tracking theirlocation every time in their everyday life and also during their trips. So thechallenge is to capture and structure all these data, moreover in this period ofcrisis.The question is to offer real data about tourist activities in final destinations not inhigh level administrative boundaries like regions.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 14
  15. 15. Conclusions and LearningThrough this paper, out of the examples obtained from the survey carried out intwo natural parks using combined methodology GPS-traditional survey, we havetried to explain how having geo-referenced information can help develop tourismitineraries that could contribute to promote tourism in certain destinations.Tourism policy makers know in advance many “logic” itineraries but there are someother routes travelled around by tourist that are alternative to usual ones and,having information about them can help to document and improve them.For existing itineraries, information about the tourist profile, obtained from specificsurveys, can also be very relevant, in order to adapt the itineraries to the touristsvisiting a region.Following previous analyses, we can conclude that a clear relationship between themain purpose of the visit has been determined with the itinerary followed duringthe visit or the places visited.As per main consequence we can also determine that GPS technology can be usedto analyze at micro level Touristic behavior.From a practical point of view the information extracted from this survey mainlyhelped the parks managing team to: Design a set of routes and plot them properly in the Park to avoid surprises. Draw up a list of routes adapted to each visit profile: age, type of visitors group, with or without overnight in the area, etc., indicating in each case the best path and estimated duration given the physical conditions of the visitor. Develop a series of specific recommendations of security "in relation to the hardness and the path length and difficulties". Improve both the path and the signaling, according to the user’s profile (group type) to avoid surprises or taking unnecessary risks in case of durations in excess.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 15
  16. 16. Nevertheless from the survey methodology point of view there are still many pointsto improve in terms of integrating the information of a group of routes in order tostandardize main routes, developing strategies to make participation easier andmore effective, and finally improving fieldwork economics; nowadays hot topic.In terms of data collection performance, we have already develop software andstrategy to obtain quality information using smartphones potentially useful for anykind of touristic itineraries.TNS DemoscopiaJulián Camarillo 42 – 28037 – 16
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