African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Why keep on paddling? Evidence from a South African canoe marathon

M Kruger, M Saayman


Despite the growth and potential future market for water-based recreation activities such as canoeing, to date research on the sport and its participants is sparse. Little is known about who canoeists are and why they choose canoeing as an outdoor activity, particularly in light of the burgeoning popularity of eco- and nature-based tourism. This study therefore profiled participants in the Dusi Canoe Marathon according to their motives for participating. A total of 250 self-administered questionnaires were distributed at the KwaZulu-Natal Canoe Club in Pietermaritzburg on the day of registration (13 February 2013), of which 220 were returned completed (an 88% return rate) and included in the analysis. A factor analysis indicated that the canoeists’ main motives for paddling were enjoyment and adventure followed by intrinsic achievement. Based on these motives, the cluster analysis revealed three distinct segments, labelled Recreational, Intermediate and Serious canoeists. The results further confirm that several factors contribute to the differences between canoeists over and above their socio-demographic and behavioural characteristics: the setting of the event, whether river, lake or ocean, the level of fitness required and the duration of the activity. It corroborates the argument that motives for participating differ according to the sporting event, and supports the view that marketers and sports event organizers should not treat participants as a homogeneous group. These findings will assist sports event organizers in making informed and cost-effective marketing and product development decisions.

Keywords: Canoe tourism, sport tourism, canoeist, motives, segmentation.

AJOL African Journals Online