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Tourists’ Weather Perceptions and Weather Related behavior. A qualitative pilot study with holiday tourists to Martinique

Perception des conditions météorologiques et comportements des touristes : une étude pilote qualitative auprès des vacanciers sur l'île de la Martinique
Martin Lohmann et Anna C. Hübner

Résumés

Cette étude explore les perceptions et les évaluations des conditions météorologiques et les comportements des vacanciers sur l'île de la Martinique. A ce sujet, l´étude examine l'influence de certains paramètres météorologiques sélectionnés sur des vacances d'été «typiques», sur le choix de la destination Martinique et sur les activités envisagées sur lieu. 32 interviews instantanées ont eu lieu en deux courtes périodes de temps pendant un mois. Les résultats illustraient qu´il y avait de légères différences concernant les préférences climatiques selon que les répondants venaient d'un pays au climat froid ou chaud, que les schémas d'activité semblaient généralement peu influencés par les changements météorologiques et que le temps - marquées par de fortes pluies dans la première période de la collecte de données et par un temps variable dans la seconde période - semblait n´avoir qu´un impact limité sur les intentions à revenir à la Martinique. Bien que l´étude pilote n´ait que des possibilités limitées de fournir des résultats valides et fiables, elle identifie les variables et les facteurs qui sont essentiels à considérer lors d´un projet de recherche qui examine la perception des conditions météorologiques par les touristes et les comportements qui en résultent. Ces facteurs sont présentés dans un modèle conceptuel.

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Notes de l’auteur

Acknowledgement:
The authors thank Bruno Marques, CMT, Fort de France (Martinique, France) for his valuable information about the situation of tourism in Martinique and Martina Guthmann, Starnberg (Germany) for her help with the French version of the abstract.

Texte intégral

Introduction

1Weather and climate, which is typically circumscribed as the ‘long-term average weather’, are important aspects of touristic activity and of tourists’ decision-making (e.g. Lohmann & Aderhold, 2009, 22). While the development of tourism at destinations, including marketing, infrastructure or planning, may be significantly guided by climate and weather conditions, these also exert more or less influence on the level of attractiveness of a destination, on the destination choice, on the timing of travel, on individual’s actual or planned behavior in situ, and, ultimately, on the satisfaction of the overall holiday experience and on return intention (e.g. Becken, 2010; Becken et al., 2010; Lohmann & Kaim, 1999; Scott & Lemieux, 2009).

2The importance of weather and climate as a facilitator and resource of tourism and, thus, its influence on seasonality and demand patterns in mind, the body of literature exploring tourists’ preferences, expectations, perceptions and experiences of climate and weather at destinations, has grown steadily. Hereby, a large amount of studies employed statistical models like the Tourism Climate Index (rf. Mieczkowski, 1985) or slightly modified versions of it to predict future tourism flows and seasonality on a macro-sale (e.g. Amelung et al., 2007; Morgan et al., 2000). Other studies have rather focused on context-specific, i.e. coastal, urban or mountainous, environments and on the importance of natural features, including climate and weather, in tourists’ decision-making and experiences (e.g. Rutty, 2009). Uyarra et al. (2005), for instance, looked at the meaning of environmental features on the destination choice and on the experience of visitors to the Caribbean islands of Bonaire and Barbados. While Bonaire attracted mainly through its marine wildlife, Barbados persuaded through its coastal features, namely the beach size and its sand quality. Any deterioration of these important holiday characteristics would lead to a reduced willingness of return intentions. Hence, Uyarra et al. (2005) showed that it is also particularly individuals’ needs and motivations which determine destination choice and future visitation. This has also been confirmed within other studies. Denstadli et al. (2011) highlighted motivations and needs as major factors for travel behavior patterns and satisfaction apart from the importance of comfort perceptions of weather and climate. In their study on summer visitors to northern Norway, they found that weather conditions neither necessarily took a great influence on visitors overall travel plans in situ nor on their future visitation intentions, even if expectancies had been positively disconfirmed. Unforeseen ‘good’ or ‘bad’ conditions during the holiday led to short-term adjustments like the prolongation of the stay, changing itinerary or to more indoor than outdoor activity.

3Concerning changes in behavior in situ, de Freitas (2003) distinguished between five reaction types on how individuals may behave according to unexpected or unfavorable thermal (e.g. humidity, solar radiation), aesthetic (e.g. sunshine, cloud cover, daylight), and physical (wind, rain, snow, ice) climate/ weather conditions, which are: avoidance of areas of adverse conditions (e.g. from sun to shade, destination choice), change of activity, the use of structural or mechanic aid (e.g. umbrella, shelter), thermal insulation of body (through clothing) or the adaptation of a passive acceptance.

4Albeit an increase of studies examining climate and weather preferences and perceptions and its influence on trip planning, there is still a dearth of information on tourists’ perceptions of weather and behaviors in situ, specifically with regards to the small tropical island setting. Moreover, in the scope of a changing climate and changes in seasonality, an increase of climate variability and extreme events already impacting or projected to impact on the tourism demand and supply system, it is critical to obtain further insights into potential relationships existing between tourism and weather expectations and experiences in destinations with already warmer climates.

5A number of examinations though have been carried out which explored potential visitors’ preferences and expectations of warmer climate destinations, at times also in combination with a beach-holiday. Rutty (2009) e.g. investigated the ‘ideal’ of selected weather parameters, amongst other, of beach holiday-makers, in the Mediterranean. These rated sunshine hours the most important factor before the absence of rain and strong winds and before air temperature. 27-32°C, no winds and a 25% cloud cover were perceived as perfect weather conditions for the beach (rf. also Scott et al., 2007). Interestingly, respondents also showed a lower threshold for uncomfortable air temperatures, but a higher threshold for unacceptable rains. Similarly, Curtis et al. (2010) highlighted that air temperature did not take as much influence on their sampled beach-goers in North Carolina as did winds and cloud cover. Interestingly, Lohmann & Kaim (1999) who examined summer holiday weather preferences of Germans, amongst other planning to travel to the Balearic Islands and to the North Sea found that although preferences of ideal summer holiday weather were consistent (a lot of sunshine, light winds and mostly warm) and weather expectations differed for those planning a trip to the north sea, the destination was nevertheless chosen for a holiday. Furthermore, respondents who were not satisfied with the weather after the actual holiday expressed almost as much interest in revisiting as did those who experienced no major disappointment. Gössling et al. (2006) examined the importance of climate for travel and weather perceptions of international visitors to Zanzibar. Although the island could be described as a typical ‘sun, sand and sea’ destination, for almost 1/5 of their respondents, the climate did not play a role for the travel decision-making.

6However, preconceptions held about the weather were predominated by descriptions of ‘warm’, ‘humid’ and ‘great’ conditions. However, in the event of changing weather patterns, or of increased storm, rain and humidity, temperature was perceived to have little influence on future decision-making. This confirms also Rutty’s (2009) and Curtis et al.’s (2010) observations. The research in this area mainly focus on beliefs and preferences with respect to weather and climate before or after a trip, while this pilot study is to examine these of holiday-makers in situ in the small island of Martinique.

7For Martinique, since the development of tourism in the 1950s, the ‘sun, sand and sea’ image has been an important part of the island (CMT, 2010; Dupont, 2007). In 2009, Martinique received around 480.000 tourists. Due to the fact that Martinique is part of the overseas French territories (DOM), that French is one of the two official languages and that direct flight connections are only available from France has a major influence on the tourism of the island (rf. Cunningham, 2007; Momsen, 2004; Augier, 2007: 4). Around 80% of holiday-makers arrive from the mainland of France and more than one third stay with friends or relatives (CMT, 2010). Besides, visitors come from the Caribbean (13%), other European countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy or Switzerland (3%) or from the US (1%). The average length of stay was 13 days whereby holiday-makers stayed around four days longer on average during low season than during high season. Almost half of all visitors have been to Martinique at least once before (CMT, 2010).

8The climate on Martinique’s north and south varies to some degree. While the northern part has a more humid, tropical climate with high precipitation levels of up to 5000mm/year, the south is much dryer with 1200mm/year. Average air and water temperatures are at 26°C and 25°C respectively all year round, which comes close to perfect conditions for a summer holiday. Furthermore, the climate in Martinique is characterized by a dry season, called “Le Carême”, which lasts until June and by a wet season in the second half of the year (called “L’Hivernage”).

9In this framework, our study will look at:

  1. What are climate preferences of holiday-makers coming from warmer or colder climate countries for a typical summer holiday? What role did the weather play in their decision for traveling to Martinique and what are their actual weather perceptions?

  2. Can there possibly be any variables explored (other than specific weather parameters) which need to be considered when examining weather and climate preferences of holiday-makers? Are there any links between expectations, perceptions and behaviors of travelers depending on whether they come from a warm or a cold country?

  3. How would different weather parameters influence touristic activity and behavior in situ?

1. Method

10To not only obtain a better understanding of tourists weather preferences for a summer holiday but also of actual perceptions, experiences and behaviors, snapshot interviews were carried out with holiday-makers who were at the end of their stay in Martinique. Potential respondents were randomly approached at the International Airport Aimé Césaire and asked whether they have been for a holiday on the island for at least three nights. The interviews were held during two brief periods within a month’s time in 2011, with the first period running from the 29th of April until the 2nd of May (group A) and the second period taking place on the 16th and 17th of May 2011 (group B). A total of 32 usable interviews were included in the elicitation, 17 stemming from group A and 15 from group B. The response rate was reasonable with 62%, considering that 18 out of the 20 potential respondents who were denied an interview were living in Martinique. Interviews were held in French, English and German.

11The interview guide, which also included quantitative elements, broadly covered the following topics: (1) the role of weather for the destination choice, including the home weather before leaving, importance of weather for visiting Martinique and individual weather preferences for a ‘typical’ summer holiday; (2) weather expectations, perceptions of the weather in general and of particular weather parameters during the holiday and satisfaction with the weather; (3) activities carried and relations to the weather conditions during the entire holiday and during the last day in Martinique; and (4) return intentions and respondents’ characteristics.

12Interviews lasted between 10-20 minutes. Initially, interviewees for both group A and B are distinguished between those residing in ‘warm’ (Argentina, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia) and ‘cold’ countries (France, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco). The quantitative elements were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics; comparative analysis was used for the qualitative data. The size and the uneven spread of respondents arriving from warm and cold countries of the sample in this pilot study is, by no means, creating a representative picture of tourists in La Martinique. Yet, this study deems useful and practical to generate first insights into potential relationships existing between weather and holiday-makers’ behaviors in a small island setting as well as to explore variables which need to be considered when going to conduct a representative study in the future. Furthermore, it should be taken into account that ‘warm’ country respondents considered not only holiday-making as their prime reason for visiting the island as opposed to ‘cold’ country participants for whom holiday-making was the only reason. In this regard, it should also be noted that the time of the year when collecting the data may have had an influence on the stated importance of ‘sunny’ weather. Assumingly, there would be greater differences between holiday-makers arriving during the summer or those arriving during the winter season of ‘cold’ countries.

13The two interviewing periods were marked by fairly different weather conditions (Figure 1). While the minimum and maximum temperatures of around 22.5 – 30°C correspond to averages (Météo France, 2011a, b), the precipitation as well as the sunshine hours differed quite significantly. Precipitations in April 2011 were equivalent to four times as much to the average, in May these approximated to the average of 135mm per month with 191mm of rain. As could be presumed, sunshine hours accordingly remained below the average of around 211 hours per month with 164 hours in April and 173 hours in May (Figure 3). It should be pointed out that the last days of the holiday of participants from group A (late April/ early May) were marked by ‘exceptionally’ heavy rains, cloudy skies and hardly any sunshine. The last days of group B (Mid of May) were likewise characterized by increased rain, however, these were overall less and shorter-lasting precipitations. Group B had slightly higher temperatures than respondents from group A and a higher humidity than monthly average.

Figure 1. Average precipitation and sunshine hours from April 15 – May 17

Figure 1. Average precipitation and sunshine hours from April 15 – May 17

Based on Météo France, 2011a, b

14For illustrating differences which may have been experienced by holiday-makers from group A and B, Figure 2 depicts a popular beach at the southern coast of Martinique in rain and in sunshine during the data collection period.

Figure 2. The beach of Le Diamant in the rain and in the sun. (Photos: Hübner, 2011).

Figure 2. The beach of Le Diamant in the rain and in the sun. (Photos: Hübner, 2011).

2. Results

2.1. The Sample

15Out of the 17 respondents in group A, twelve were from cold countries (with three born in Martinique). Out of the 15 interviewees in group B, 13 were from cold countries. The average age of participants from cold countries was 43 years and they stayed around 13 days. Respondents from the warm countries were slightly older with 47 years and, with approximately four days, stayed much shorter on the island on average. Female and male respondents were evenly spread in group A and B. Overall the sample can be characterized as largely French or French-speaking and as fairly experienced Caribbean and Martinique visitors. For 13 it has been the first time visit to Martinique, for eight of these it was also the first visit to the Caribbean.

2.2. Weather Perceptions

16Initially, respondents were asked for the weather conditions in the home country shortly before leaving. In both time periods of data collection, the weather was elicited by cold country interviewees as predominantly “nice”, “sunny” and “pleasant temperatures”. Respondents coming from warm countries thought the weather to be similarly “nice”, however, some also reported about more overcast and slightly rainier weather.

17Subsequently, participants were asked to rate their preferences of selected weather parameters for a “typical” summer holiday (Table 1). Cold country interviewees favored particularly sunny, slightly windy and mostly warm weather. Frequent rain was disliked by almost all respondents, while occasional showers or changeable weather were acceptable for many. These findings are in line with earlier results for German tourists (Lohmann & Kaim, 1999). Respondents from warm countries similarly preferred sunny and slightly windy weather, but were less unanimously going for warm or hot temperatures.

Table 1: Weather Preferences for a “typical” summer holiday

Cold Countries
(n= 25)

Warm Countries
(n=7)

Cases (n)

I like

Don’t mind

I like

Don’t mind

Often sun, blue sky

25

0

6

1

Light breeze

23

2

5

2

Mostly warm

20

4

3

4

Rather cool

8

6

3

4

Windy

7

9

0

2

Often hot

6

7

2

2

Occasional rain

2

21

1

4

Changeable weather

1

13

0

3

Frequent rain

0

1

0

2

18When inquiring more specifically about the role that weather has played for the choice in spending the holiday in Martinique, it was evident that weather was not the one and only reason for visiting La Martinique. This applies to both, interviewees from cold and warm source markets. Weather depicted rather “one factor” out of many, among these being safety, marine diversity, the beach, or visiting friends or relatives. Yet, comments made suggested an implicit understanding that the weather was thought to be “normally”, “usually” “sunny”, “dry” or “good”. This is also confirmed by statements on expected “typical dry season” weather conditions, i.e. dry and sunny conditions with occasional, short-lasting showers, upon arrival. Interviewees from warm countries likewise anticipated the “normally nice and sunny” weather, but were also more aware of the recent rainy days prevailing at home, which was particularly the case for respondents from Guadeloupe.

19Subsequently, the sample was asked to rate perceptions of specific weather parameters on a scale from 1 (= never experienced) to 5 (=experienced nearly all the time during the holiday) (Figure 3). This showed for group A that warm and cold country respondents slightly differed in their description of experienced weather parameters, e.g.: warm country respondents observed less frequent sunshine, warmer and rainier weather than did their counterparts arriving from cold countries around the same time period. A comparison of group B was not considered feasible with only two respondents representing warm countries. The second period of data collection though showed that interviewees from cold countries perceived the weather similarly to their counterparts in group A, except that they thought it to be much warmer/hotter and more humid. This is interesting to note since there have been significant lower levels of precipitation than in the first period of data collection (rf. Figure 1).

Figure 3: Perception of selected weather parameters during stage

Figure 3: Perception of selected weather parameters during stage

Table 2: Weather Evaluation and Return Intentions

Cold Countries

Warm Countries

Group A

Group B

Group A

Group B

Total (cases)

12

13

4

2

Weather Evaluation

excellent

2

2

0

0

great

1

3

0

0

mediocre

7

6

1

2

rather bad

1

2

2

0

lousy

1

0

2

0

Weather Evaluation
compared to Expec.

Better than exp.

0

0

0

1

As expected

3

3

2

1

(much) worse

9

10

2

0

Return Intentions

Yes, definetly

6

4

2

2

Yes, probably

3

9

2

0

Probably not

2

0

0

0

Definetly not

1

0

0

0

20Considering the largely “mediocre” perceptions of weather, it is interesting to note that cold country interviewees, particularly of group A, rated the weather largely worse or much worse than expected (Table 2). Respondents expressed surprise about the prevailing rains and the missing sunshine and thought the weather to be exceptional and ‘unusual’ for this time of the year (“A lot of rain, that cannot be, four days of heavy rains.”; “It’s not a normal ‘Carême’.”; “This period here is exceptional, usually it doesn’t rain.”). Respondents from warm countries uttered less surprise about the weather, mostly because similar weather was experienced at home or information was sought for before travel (“I wasn’t surprised, the weather is changeable.”; “Not much [surprise], I have heard about it on the radio already, so I expected the rains.”; “I knew we would have the same weather as in Guadeloupe.”).

2.3. Weather, Behavior and Return Intentions

21To explore potential relationships between the experienced weather conditions and activities carried out, participants were initially asked in what sort of activities they engaged in. Respondents predominantly named a great variety, including going to the beach, diving/ snorkeling, swimming, sailing, hiking/ walking, visiting villages, museums and distilleries. Warm country respondents’ activities concentrated on hiking/ walking, visiting friends or relatives and on going to the beach. As could be expected, sample respondents preferred to rather engage in outdoor recreation in sunny and warm weather, whereas rainy and cloudy conditions were used to visit museums or to stay in the accommodation. Herein, respondents either highlighted the little influence of rains on their holiday experience (“It doesn’t matter a lot, because usually it [the rain] doesn’t last for long.”) or even considered these as a chance (“We benefitted from visiting the museum.”). One participant also pointed out increased information search, particularly with local friends who would tell them about weather conditions on the northern or southern end of the island. In group B, participants seemed more likely to also consider going to the beach during rainy or cloudy weather conditions. Yet, this may have been for rains were less intense and shorter lasting than during the first period of data collection.

22When asking more specifically whether any plans or activities had to be changed due to unexpected weather conditions, respondents from cold countries of group A stated changes of at least one planned activity, among these, the cancellation of hiking/ walking/ sailing trips, the change of transport modes, or changes form outdoor to more indoor activities like visiting a museum (“We’ve been hiking and then had to return due to rains.”; “With this weather, we weren’t able to do what we had intended to do.”). However, there were also a number of interviewees who stated that current weather conditions had little influence on their activity (“Even if it rains, one can go diving”; “Not at all [any changes], because weather conditions change rapidly.”). Fewer changes were reported by participants from group B. Moreover, respondents from warm countries generally seemed to have had less fixed ideas about activities to carry out and, thus, gave much fewer details about any changes.

23To obtain further insights into potential relationships between weather conditions and actual behavior, interviewees were asked about the weather and the activities carried out during the day before the interview. Although the weather was generally described as rainy and cloudy, respondents from cold countries nevertheless engaged in various activities, including walking, touring around the island, spending the day at the accommodation/ preparing return or snorkeling. Albeit little changes in weather during the day, it was noticeable that interviewees had carried out most of the activities in the afternoon and the assumption arose that while the morning was spent indoors/ at the accommodation, respondents were more inclined to brave the weather in the afternoon. Furthermore, respondents going snorkeling highlighted that this was very much depending on high sea waves rather than rains, which was likewise mentioned by a few participants going swimming at the beach. Those spending the morning in the hotel engaged in “light activities” such as playing board games or going to the swimming pool. It was also noticeable that some of the interviewees were more inclined to make use out of the last day and left their accommodation while others preferred to spend the last day of the holiday more quietly at the accommodation. Reactions seemed overall twofold: some of the interviewees seemed less impressed by the weather and expressed to want to make most out of the holiday. In this regard, it also appeared that activities to be carried out had been well planned ahead before coming to Martinique. The other group of respondents, mostly consisting of repeat visitors, seemed less likely to go out during “rainy” weather and more volatile in their decision-making. Plans and activities seemed more often to be cancelled or postponed. One participant emphasized that he informed himself about the daily local weather conditions and then planned activities for the next day accordingly. Warm country respondents overall engaged less in outdoor activities during “bad” weather than did their counterparts from cold countries (“I am satisfied with the weather, because I haven’t made any plans for activities before coming.”). They also seemed to mind less spending a day indoor only.

24Respondents of group B seemed slightly less affected by the weather conditions. It was noticeable that during a cloudy or rainy morning, interviewees were more likely to go for a walk or to drive around by car while the midday and the afternoon seemed rather to be reserved for going to the beach and relax. Though disappointment was expressed about the little sunshine and about less time spent at the beach, most arranged with the unexpected weather since activities planned could predominantly be carried out. Some respondents had stated to have heard about the rains prevailing in the end of April/ end of May (during the first data collection period) and have, thus, been afraid of experiencing similar conditions during their stay.

25In order to find out about any potential influence of the experienced weather on return intentions, the sample was asked whether or not they would revisit Martinique in the near future. Overall, respondents surprisingly seemed little affected by the prevailing weather and largely said that a return visit was likely (Table 2). In this regard, a few cold country participants commented that an earlier time of the year would be envisaged if visiting again. Others pointed out, once again, that the experienced weather was “exceptional” and, therefore, no other time of the year would be chosen for a return visit. Moreover, other factors than the weather deemed also more important at times. Weather insecurities or the end of the season were acceptable, if this resulted in lower price levels.

26At the end of many interviews it was noticeable that respondents, in fact, started de-emphasizing the importance of weather for the holiday experience. Instead, the friendliness of people and the abundance of undertaken activities were highlighted, making up for the ‘misfortunate’ weather (“It’s been pleasant enough despite the rains.”; “We don’t mind the rain: it’s cheaper to stay here during the low season. Yes, I would have liked to take a swim more often, but that’s life, the fish are there nevertheless.”; “We would have been more disappointed, if we hadn’t looked up the weather forecast beforehand.”).

Discussion

27Recent studies on the role of weather parameters for decision-making concentrated much on the pre-trip destination choice and tourism flows in the context of a changing climate. Less attention has been paid to tourists’ perceptions and experiences of weather and activities undertaken in situ, and even less so, in destinations which live off predominant weather features like sunshine and warm temperatures (Jacobsen et al., 2011 : 40). This pilot study was to examine weather perceptions and tourists’ behavior in the small tropical island setting of La Martinique. The choice of this study area holds a number of important implications: (1) it is a heliocentric destination, attracting to its visitors much through its climate, (2) it is set in a region most vulnerable to projected changes in climate and, accordingly, potential relationships between weather and activities may render some important insights into tourists’ decision-making, (3) there is limited possibility to “escape” actual weather conditions or to change itinerary (unlike Becken et al., 2010; Denstadli et al., 2011), and (4) much of Martinique’s holiday-makers are repeat visitors stemming from one single source market.

28The reports of our respondents made clear, that usual weather (climate) is an important issue when planning a holiday in the Caribbean, but it is not the only one. When considering the destination, the weather aspect seems to be – at least partly – implicit. It only becomes an explicit issue when weather conditions in the destination are different from what was to be expected.

29A major purpose of this study was to explore potential variables, which would need to be considered for a reliable quantitative or qualitative study carried out in a similar context with tourists originating from both warm and cold climate source markets. The way, how (bad) weather affects in situ tourist behavior may depend on a large set of factors, including of course different weather parameters like temperature, precipitation, wind etc., but in addition climate at home, duration of stay, type of activity, availability of alternative activities, mobility, and others more. One may assume personality factors to play a role as well but this area was not covered in our study. Considering these different factors stemming from the situation at home, the situation in the destination and the actual behavior planning and behavior of the tourists, we argue that different psychological concepts can be used in exploring the links between these factors. We have tried to draw a preliminary picture, which depicts the relations and links. This conceptual model (Figure 4) can be looked at as a “conceptual scheme” in the sense described by Pearce (2005: 12-15): It goes beyond mere statements of the observed world but it is not, however, a fully functioning theory. It may be helpful to organize scientific information and to structure further research.

Figure 4. Conceptual model: climate, weather and tourist behavior

Figure 4. Conceptual model: climate, weather and tourist behavior

Tourist Behavior

30The actual weather in a destination during a holiday does not directly transfer into activities or changes of activities, but is subject to perception and evaluation processes. These are linked to weather and climate at home, weather preferences and motivation, and weather expectations and acceptance. The cognitive and emotional processes may be implicit or explicit. The data collected support the assumption that these processes become more explicit with unexpected developments (unusual weather) coming close to what is considered acceptable. In addition, the acceptability of weather conditions seems to be “negotiable”: When the price is low (during low season), bad weather is easier to accept.

31Not surprisingly, this study also showed that different activity types like snorkelers or divers were more or less volatile in bearing ‘bad’ weather conditions than a holiday-maker purely coming for going to the beach. In the same way, participants arriving from cold climate countries seemed more dependent on carrying out planned outdoor activities than their counterparts coming from warm climate countries. Similarly, first time visitors appeared more determined to undertake specific activities planned before travel than did those who have been to the island at least once before.

32But even with adverse weather conditions far away from what was expected dissatisfaction is not necessarily the result, which may be considered contrary to what some satisfaction theories assume (Alegre & Garau, 2010) as at least some of our respondents show remarkable adaptive capacities to cope with the new situation.

33The willingness to return, finally, seems only partly to depend on the actual weather experiences, even when evaluated as worse from what was expected. We assume general beliefs with respect to the destination climate influencing such intentions to quite an extent.

34Pre-trip information behavior and its results with respect to weather may cause shifts in the process as it affects weather expectations. In our sample some of the respondents during the second period of data collection (group B) seemed more prepared for ‘bad’ weather conditions, as they have used information sources at home telling them about the unusual weather during the second half of April. They had lowered their weather expectations, particularly with reference to sunshine. Thus, they seemed more likely to acknowledge when all activities could be undertaken as planned. On the other hand, warm climate respondents were overall less dependent on weather conditions and these, thus, seemed to play a minor role for their destination choice.

35Of course, a lot of other factors in the destination and at home do influence what tourists want and do, as well as their personal abilities and motivation (Lohmann, 2009: 330-331). These factors are not depicted in Figure 4. The conceptual model emphasizes the important role of concepts like expectations, preferences, acceptance, adaptation, when trying to understand how tourists respond to actual weather during their trip.

36This pilot study also pointed out some critical points to consider for tourism providers on Martinique during periods of ‘unexpected’ weather. Respondents frequently mentioned that museums were closed during rains or that the information provision on risks emanating of flooding and of affected infrastructure was generally very poor. Likewise, the daily weather forecast seemed sparsely be provided by local accommodations and respondents much relied on the hourly changes of weather. The sample also showed that it is important to consider the type of transport used by visitors to get around the island. Sample respondents most frequently rented a car; however, activities might differ significantly from those relying on local transport or guided tours. Moreover, it would be interesting to further explore weather preferences of local holiday-makers, e.g. of those coming from the north of Martinique spending some days in the south or vice versa. There has so far no research been done examining domestic, intra-island tourism patterns, however, test interviews for this pilot held at the Atlantic coast of Martinique disclosed that some islanders sought for ‘refreshment’ and light breezes of wind, which is less frequent at the Caribbean coast. A regular visitor survey would allow for an ongoing monitoring process of experienced quality and guest satisfaction as a basis to ensure product quality.

37In general, this pilot study – of course within its limitations – allowed as well for an overview of factors necessary to understand weather related behavior and behavior shifts of tourists as for some insights into the specific situation of a heliocentric destination with tourists from different climate zones. In both regards it may serve as a basis for future research, especially with respect to behavioral responses of leisure tourists to projected climate change dynamics in holiday destinations.

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Alegre, J. & J. Garau (2010). Tourist Satisfaction and Dissatisfaction, Annals of Tourism Research, 37(1): 52 – 73.
DOI : 10.1016/j.annals.2009.07.001

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Average precipitation and sunshine hours from April 15 – May 17
Crédits Based on Météo France, 2011a, b
URL http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/docannexe/image/5323/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 88k
Titre Figure 2. The beach of Le Diamant in the rain and in the sun. (Photos: Hübner, 2011).
URL http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/docannexe/image/5323/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Figure 3: Perception of selected weather parameters during stage
URL http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/docannexe/image/5323/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 104k
Titre Figure 4. Conceptual model: climate, weather and tourist behavior
URL http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/docannexe/image/5323/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 71k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Martin Lohmann et Anna C. Hübner, « Tourists’ Weather Perceptions and Weather Related behavior. A qualitative pilot study with holiday tourists to Martinique », Études caribéennes [En ligne], 19 | Août 2011, mis en ligne le 22 juin 2016, consulté le 28 septembre 2016. URL : http://etudescaribeennes.revues.org/5323 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudescaribeennes.5323

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Auteurs

Martin Lohmann

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Dep. of Business Psychology, Lüneburg, Germany, m.lohmann@leuphana.de

Anna C. Hübner

Leuphana University Lüneburg, Dep. of Business Psychology, Lüneburg, Germany

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Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus d’Études caribéennes sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale 4.0 International.

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