Structure Versus Agency: Which Best Explains Tourist Activity in a Destination?

Amit Birenboim*, Salvador Anton-Clavé, Antonio Paolo Russo, Noam Shoval

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Two complementary approaches are commonly used to study human behavior. The first one assumes the existence of a self-motivated individual, commonly referred to as agency. The second approach considers structure and situational variables such as social context and weather as the primary factors that direct human behavior. In the current study, GPS information that was analyzed using Geographical Information System (GIS) was utilized to scrutinize the time–space activity pattern of 276 tourists visiting in PortAventura theme park, a recreational tourist destination located in Catalonia, Spain in high temporal resolution. Since theme parks are highly controlled artificial environments, it is convenient to gauge both the characteristics of the park itself and of the activity patterns of visitors within it. The chapter investigates how structural factors such as temporal constraints (length of visit, number of planned visits) and the location of attractions on the one hand and visitor characteristics such as nationality and familiarity on the other affect the activity of theme park visitors. The results revealed that structural factors were more useful in predicting participants’ behavior than did personal characteristics and preferences.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationAdvances in Spatial Science
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Spatial Science
ISSN (Print)1430-9602
ISSN (Electronic)2197-9375

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


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