Motivations: Literary Tourism

Rita Baleiro (ESGHT – University of the Algarve, CiTUR, Portugal)

This dictionary entry combines two concepts: literary tourism and motivation. The first refers to literary-inspired tours primarily motivated by the quest to experience places and landscapes associated with literature. This connection may happen via the author's presence or memory, the fictional and non-fictional literary texts or manufactured literary products and experiences (Baleiro et al., 2022). The second concept is a kind of internal force that emerges, promotes and triggers a particular action (Bzuneck & Boruchovitch, 2016). In tourism research, motivation has been defined as a unique subset of broader human internal drivers that entail an intricate system of biological and cultural influences that provides value and steer travel choices, behaviour and experience (Pearce, 2011). In other words, motivations determine why people undertake travel in general or specific travel choices such as literary-inspired visits. 

In the scope of literary tourism, the motivations are likely as diverse as the variety of literary products and experiences (e.g., attendance of literary festivals, visiting literary cities, participating in literary dinners, tracking literary trails and routes, and visiting writers' home museums). Identifying the inner drivers of people engaging in literary touring is paramount to those who develop and market the tourism industry. 

Despite the evolution of literary touring in recent years and the current panoply of motivations, research has shown a cluster of motivations that have remained moderately stable since the first known examples of literary touring four hundred years ago (Herbert, 2001). One of those perennial inner drivers is the wish to experience closeness to the author, which has been identified in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century literary tourists' travelling experience (Herbert, 2001) and the twenty-first literary visitors (Baleiro et al., 2022). Hence why the authors' home museums have remained one of the most visited literary places: they are a gateway to the writers' intimacy and personal space, or as Watson puts it, they are "the workshop of genius, [and] the apogee of literary tourist sites" (Watson, 2006: 90). Another lasting motivation is the wish to visit places and landscapes depicted in the texts and the places and landscapes of literary characters, initially propelled by the increasing popularity of the novel in the eighteenth century and lately by the screen adaptations of literary texts (Bu et al., 2021). In this regard, Hendrix (2014: 27) recalls that in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, visitors started going to Savoy and Lake Geneva, not to visit Rousseau's house in Les Charmettes, near Chambéry, but to go on the route of his fictional heroine: Éloise. Other literary characters persist in driving many visitors to their places, such as the cases of Dracula, Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes, to name a few of the most popular. 

Despite the acknowledged gap in the literature regarding the inner drivers of literary visitors (Bu et al., 2021), research has already identified several motivations. It has also been underlined that they might accumulate in one individual according to the visitors' life moment, knowledge of literary art, mood, and companionship, amongst other factors (Baleiro et al., 2022). Baleiro, Viegas and Faria (2022) included sixteen motivation variables in a survey questionnaire (to see the places associated with the author's biography; to see the locations depicted in the text; to see the places and landscapes through the words of the author; to visit the writer's grave; to pay tribute to the author; to learn about the author's biography; to understand the literary work better; to be more knowledgeable of the places and landscape depicted in the literary text; to relive imagined scenes in real settings; to see a rare edition of a literary work; to visit a historical bookshop; to visit a literary town, village or city; to stay in a literary hotel; to occupy free time; to share the experience with friends/relatives; to understand what literary tourism is). Baleiro and colleagues could have also added other variables identified by other researchers: curiosity; friend referral; watching the film or series about the book (Bu et al., 2021), nostalgia for childhood memories (Squire, 1994), an opportunity for reflection (Brown, 2016) and a desire to compare the physical materiality of the site and their mental image of the place (Reijnders, 2011). 

In short, although research on literary touring motivations has still to go a long way, it is possible to divide the inner drivers identified in the literature into five clusters: (i) admiration for the author (which may include a wish to pay homage, to visit the private and public places of authors, to learn about the author's biography and to see the place where the literary work of art was created); (ii) knowledge of the literary and heritage (which may contain the wish to better understand the literary work, to see a rare edition of a literary work, to visit a historical bookshop, to visit a literary town, village or city and to participate in a literary festival); (iii) the places and landscape (which may include a desire to compare the geographical place with the mental image of the place, to see the places and landscapes through the words of the author, to stay in a literary hotel and nostalgia to visit a real place represented in a book the visitor once read and appreciated); (iv) socialising (which may comprise a wish to participate in literary dinners, in a literary guided tour, or just curiosity after a literary experience referred by friends or family or after a literary place became very popular) and (v) film-induced (which may include the desire to be on the set of the characters and to compare the media represented place or landscape with the real destination).

How to cite this dictionary entry: Baleiro, R. (2023). Motivations: Literary Tourism. In R. Baleiro, G. Capecchi & J. Arcos-Pumarola (Orgs.). E-Dictionary of Literary Tourism. University for Foreigners of Perugia.

  • Baleiro, R., Viegas, M. & Faria, D. (2022). Contributes to the profile of the Brazilian literary tourist: Experience and motivation. Anais Brasileiros de Estudos Turísticos, 12(1).
  • Brown, L. (2016). Treading in the footsteps of literary heroes: An autoethnography. European Journal of Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation, 7(2), 135-145.
  • Bu, N., Pan, S. Kong, H., Fu, X. & B. Lin (2021). Profiling literary tourists: A motivational perspective. Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 22, 100659.
  • Bzuneck, J. A. & Boruchovitch, E. (2016). Motivação e autorregulação da motivação no contexto educativo. Psicologia Ensino and Formação,7(2).
  • Hendrix, H. (2014). Literature and Tourism: Explorations, reflections, and challenges. In R. Baleiro & S. Quinteiro (Orgs.), Lit&Tour: Ensaios sobre Literatura e Turismo (pp. 19-29). Húmus.
  • Herbert, D.T. (2001). Literary places, tourism and the heritage experience. Annals of Tourism Research, 28(2), 312–333.
  • Pearce, P. L. (2011). Travel motivation, benefits and constraints to destinations. In Y. Wang & A. Pizam (Eds.), Destination marketing and management: Theories and applications (39–52). CABI.
  • Reijnders, S. (2011). Stalking the Count: Dracula, fandom and tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 38(1), 231–248.
  • Squire, S.J. (1994). Cultural values of literary tourism. Annals of Tourism Research, 21, 103-120.
  • Watson, N. J. (2006). The literary tourist: Readers and places in Romantic and Victorian Britain. Palgrave.