|dc.description.abstract||The tourism sector has become one of the main wealth generating activities in the world economy. At the beginning of the 21st century, this sector accounts yet for more than 10% of the world GDP (World Travel and Tourism Council). Moreover, the Mediterranean coast is one of the world´s leading markets for sun and sand tourism in recent times. Forecast studies carried out by WTO estimate that international tourist arrivals to the Mediterranean coast will amount to 346 millions in 2020 (in 2000 around 200 million foreign visitors per year). Inside this geographical area, Spain is the second country in the world in terms of tourism revenues (61.628 million of USD in 2008), just beside the USA. France has the third position with 55.600 million in the same year. As well Spain is occupying the third position in terms of total tourist arrivals, in 2010 received a total of 52.7 million international tourists, a 1% increase from 2009. This allows us to consider 2010 as the year of the tourism recovery, since it breaks with two consecutive years of decline, reaching number of arrivals higher than in 2004. It has been possible in a context of economic crisis and selected international externalities affecting the Spanish tourist activity, as Icelandic volcano ashes in the first part of the year forced to cancel many flights, the conflict of drivers, which reached its peak in December and weather inclemency that have forced even the closure of certain European airports during the month of December (IET, Balance del Turismo 2010). Tourism activities have become an important source of wealth for the national economy, providing more than 11 per cent of total GDP and employment compared to the slightly percentage in the EU aggregate (UNWTO, 2009). As one should expect, Southern EU countries, particularly those in the Mediterranean, show a similar development of their tourism sector.
As we have shown, tourism activities are increasingly important in driving Southern European countries and, of course, in Spain. Nowadays, tourism activities spill over all around the globe. Several products are yet well established and consolidated as sun and sand supply, but others are now configuring new growth experiences in cities (cultural, urban, gastronomic, etc.), country-side destinations (hunting, nature, birds sight, etc.), and in other locations, increasingly attracting the attention of private and public agents as a source of welfare for their societies (Lim, 1997). Unlike most other products, a tourist destination is a mixture of products and experiences that combine to create a unique experience (Murphy, Pritchald, & Smith, 2000). Given the relevance of such product in generating wealth and welfare, competition is becoming increasingly strong in this sector of the economy. Destinations compete in terms of improving their supplies, providing better infrastructures for the visitors and developing new sensations for the tourist. Therefore, at this point, information on main advantages characterizing our destination is a key point for both public and private agents belonging to the sector. Sustainability of the product, and on a wider basis for the entire supply, depends on a correct management of such destination´s assets.
Tourism is an activity comprising supply and demand characteristics as every market activity. Supply-side destination studies comprise the analysis of different aspects, such as the development of infrastructures, natural advantages, existence of different tourist products that even complement each other, then making the destination increasingly attractive for the visitor. Demand-side studies increasingly include the use of detailed data sets containing more and more characteristics linked to the tourist profile. Those can be quantitative ones, as their age, marital status, sex, etc., but qualitative ones are becoming the most important in this type of studies. These features of the visitor allow the researcher to observe important aspects of the individual that finally determine their holiday choices.
This paper then is directed to start a research line for the Spanish Mediterranean destinations following such demand-side approach. Given the ambitious character of the investigation, we will focus in this study on characterizing the main profiles of tourists visiting such sun and sand destinations, together with observing the existence of some differences between defined groups of tourists, according to their individual profiles and visiting destinations. In this paper we are going to start by focusing on the psychological variables of tourists that affect their satisfaction when they are traveling around the Spanish Mediterranean coast. This study explores the relationship between the perceived overall satisfaction levels and the tourist profile features, together with the features of the trip. Our main objective is to take a stock of the subjective features of tourism, given its relevance for destinations´ revenue and sustainability.
The remainder of the study is organized as follows. The first part includes a wide description of the data set to be employed in the present study. In the second part, the profile of the tourists who come to visit The Mediterranean coast including the Balearic Islands during the years 2004-2009 is estimated (origin, age, income level, the length of stay, accommodation type, etc.). In the third part, an ordered logit model is carried out in order to identify factors explaining overall satisfaction of the visitors. In doing so, we will compare the most important segments of tourists appearing in the sample and then observe if there are interesting differences between them in terms of factor influencing declared satisfaction, given the destination they visit or their own individual characteristics. We also observe relationships between declared satisfaction, intention of repeating the visit and activities the tourist develops in the destination. Finally, the last part includes the conclusions of the investigation and point to the natural future research extensions of this study.||eng