Understanding temporal rhythms and travel behaviour at destinations: Potential ways to achieve more sustainable travel

Authors: Dickinson, J.E., Filimonau, V., Cherrett, T., Davies, N., Norgate, S., Speed, C. and Winstanley, C.

Pages: 144-168

ISBN: 9780415839372

DOI: 10.4324/9780203771501-19


Travel behaviour is inextricably linked to “time” in diverse ways with implications for sustainable mobility. At the most basic level, time is linked to travel through the speed equals-distance-divided-by-time equation. In this way natural laws govern the distance people may travel relative to the speed of movement and the time available. With less time available, distance decreases unless speed is increased. In general, increased travel speed is associated with higher energy intensity (Poumanyvong et al., 2012). Given our current dependence on fossil fuel-based travel modes, this has led to higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Similarly, allocating more time to travel enables travel over a longer distance with greater GHG emissions even if speed is not increased. If more time to travel is available and there is access to faster modes, this has a twofold effect on increasing GHG emissions. However, the time allocated to travel in our daily lives has remained relatively constant and increased distance is a result of higher speed (Metz, 2008). Speed has increased in tourism through improved car and train infrastructure and greater use of aviation, and with it, both distance travelled and GHG emissions (Gössling et al., 2009). The car and air travel dominate tourism transport modes (Scott et al., 2010) and together account for 72 per cent of tourism GHG emissions (United Nations World Tourism Organisation - United Nations Environment Programme - World Meteorological Organisation, 2008). Though air travel plays a significant role in the GHG emissions of tourism (Becken, 2002), the focus of this study is on destination-based travel. The destination travel element is largely overlooked in existing sustainable tourism research (Hunter, 2002; La Lopa and Day, 2011) and the need for more research is well recognised (Warnken et al., 2004). Therefore, the subsequent analysis considers land-based travel at a destination, especially car use. In the tourist destination context, time is important to the transport demand management problem. Time-related visitation patterns generate peak transport demands through large numbers of people seeking to be at a specific place within a similar time frame. This has implications for all transport modes, though car travel presents particular temporal problems related to congestion and car park resource management (Mallet and McGuckin, 2000). Historically, solutions included improvements to road and car park infrastructure, offering alternative modes, such as buses or trains, and mechanisms to induce behaviour change in car users, either to encourage use of alternatives or to avoid peak times. While there have been some localised success stories (Page, 2005), the overall picture remains bleak, especially in rural destinations where car travel is a pervasive problem (Connell and Page, 2008). Time also plays a role in individual mode choice decisions. The car is perceived to be convenient and offers individually tailored temporal flexibility (Dickinson and Robbins, 2008). In the tourism context, where trips are less predictable, subject to constant readjustment due to tourist preferences and often involve trip chaining, the car offers a unique “time shifting” device (Southerton et al., 2001) that enables users to spontaneously adjust temporal plans to align with tourist opportunities. In rural destinations, in particular, there are often few alternatives available, and, where public transport is available, services are infrequent and often subject to delays due to traffic congestion. These cumulative temporal concerns favour car use and higher GHG emissions. Time is also an important element that frames the tourist experience. Tourism represents a time to step outside the clock-time routines of day-to-day life (Elsrud, 1998; Richards, 1998; Stein, 2012) and research has explored the multiple temporalities of tourism and temporal rhythms that characterise destinations (Baerenholdt et al., 2004; Germann Molz, 2010; Haldrup, 2004). Despite the importance of time in tourism and to the tourism transport problem, it has rarely been analysed from the perspective of the individual tourist experience and its role in tourist travel behaviour. Dickinson and Peeters (in press) suggest a need to better understand the role of time in the sustainable development of tourism. Tourist responses to time conditions influence travel behaviour and greater attention needs to be paid to this if we are to offer better insights to policy-makers. To further highlight the significance of time, mobile media has emerged as a new sociotechnical substrate with ubiquitous capabilities that provide users with much enhanced space-time knowledge that is increasingly employed in travel contexts (Dickinson et al., 2012).As a result, new travel tools, for example, those utilising real-time travel information, are emerging that have the potential to inform and guide new behavioural practice. Wajcman (2008, p. 67) suggests that such technology not only saves time but also provides users with a tool to mutually shape new material and cultural practices to actively “take more control of time”. Therefore, this is a pivotal moment to examine temporal concepts in order to inform policy debate and the future governance of sustainable mobility. This chapter draws on material collected within a wider research study, Sixth Sense Transport (sixthsensetransport.com), which focuses on decision-making in travel behaviour by using social networking principles to create visibility of potential transport options in time and space. The analysis presented here focuses on research conducted at a campsite in a UK rural tourism destination that explored a variety of temporal problems with respect to destination travel. The chapter’s aim is to contribute an understanding of the role played by time in destination-based travel behaviour.

Source: Scopus

Understanding temporal rhythms and travel behaviour at destinations: potential ways to achieve more sustainable travel.

Authors: Dickinson, J., Filimonau, V., Cherrett, T., Davies, N., Norgate, S., Speed, C. and Winstanley, C.

Editors: Cohen, S.A., Higham, J.E.S., Peeters, P. and Gossling, S.

Publisher: Routledge

Source: Manual