Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Motivations to the Practice of Thermal Tourism: The Case of North and Centre of Portugal

Version 1 : Received: 29 June 2021 / Approved: 1 July 2021 / Online: 1 July 2021 (07:39:25 CEST)

How to cite: Brandão, F.; Liberato, D.; Teixeira, A.S.; Liberato, P. Motivations to the Practice of Thermal Tourism: The Case of North and Centre of Portugal. Preprints 2021, 2021070001 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0001.v1). Brandão, F.; Liberato, D.; Teixeira, A.S.; Liberato, P. Motivations to the Practice of Thermal Tourism: The Case of North and Centre of Portugal. Preprints 2021, 2021070001 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0001.v1).

Abstract

Health and wellness tourism should be particularly valued in the post-pandemic phase, as a stra-tegic product to enhance the population's well-being and quality of life indicators, at social, phys-ical, and environmental dimensions, with different proposals for specialized experiences that complement the destination's offer, positioning regions as health and wellness destinations. Thermal tourism should be encouraged, as a specific product, due to the innovation and diversi-fication observed in the services made available and the benefits recognized at different age levels of tourists and destinations communities. Considering the relevance of thermal springs and thermal tourists for tourism destinations image, positioning, and development, this research aims to identify the specific motivations of tourists to the practice of thermal tourism, to understand how the benefits that thermal tourists search for, and their sociodemographic profile influence the motivations, and how the motivations determine the travel characteristics. This research was de-veloped on the North and Centre of Portugal, for their relevance in the context of thermal springs and related tourism activities. To achieve the research objectives, a questionnaire survey was ap-plied to thermal tourists, through a non-probability by convenience sampling, using bivariate tests, such as Pearson’s chi-squared test, one-way ANOVA, and t-student. The results highlight that most respondents practiced thermal tourism due to leisure and relaxation benefits, such as the escape from daily stress, spend time with family, and being "pampered"; relaxation is the most valued motivation, followed by the search for psychological and physical wellbeing. The research found relations between the benefits expected by thermal tourists, and their travel characteristics such as the composition of the group, the general travel motivation, the thermal destination cho-sen, and the number of nights spent. In thermal tourism, new challenges emerge, demanding the development of strategies, products, and services responding to the needs of specific market segments.

Subject Areas

thermal tourism; health and wellness tourism; motivations; consumers’ profile; covid-19

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