MOTIVES OF VISITORS ATTENDING FESTIVAL EVENTS: THE CASE OF COMMEMORATING ERTUGRUL GHAZI AND SÖĞÜT FESTIVAL (BİLECİK-TURKEY)

STRUCTURED ABSTRACT

Understaning the motivations of festival attendence also helps managers to better status their festivals. Travel motivation is a mature field with a large amount of research. However limited attention has been accorded to motivastions in many studies. This study is focused on the 736th Commemorating Ertugrul Ghazi and Sögüt” Festivities in the scope of event tourism. The research objectives are to: identify the motivation sources of visitors to The “Commemorating Ertugrul Ghazi and Sögüt” Festivities. Another aim of the study is to explore the significant differences between the motivational factors and socio-demographic facts of the attendees.

Research on festivals and event tourism have often been dealt in connection with tourism. Despite its central role in the decision-making process, motivation area has been one of the least explored aspects of tourism. With regard to individuals’ motivation to attend festivals, various studies found out factors such as “socialisation, exploring different cultures, sense of belonging to a group, and having a good time” (Crompton and Mckay, 1997; Prentice and Anderson, 2003; McDowall, 2010; Attanasi et al., 2013; Maeng et al., 2016). Festival attendence motivations topic has been neglected in Turkey. This study is the first research about the motivational factor influencing visitors’ attendence in festivals in Turkey. For this reason this study is to fill the research gap of identifying the motivational factors affecting visitors to the traditional festivals in the Turkey.

The study was conducted in quantitative research model. Data collection was carried out with a questionnaire exploring the motivation sources of the festival attendees. The questionnaire was prepared in reference to Scott (1996), Cromton and McKay (1997), Lee et al. (2004), Hu et al. (2013) and Maeng et al. (2016). The questionnaire was prepared in five-point Likert type. Study population consists of visitors to the 736th Commemorating Ertugrul Ghazi and Sögüt Festivities in 2017. Data were collected utilizing a self-administered questionnaire from the individuals who attended 736th Commemorating Ertugrul Ghazi and Sögüt Festivities from 08 to 10 September, 2017. The questionnaires were handed out at the entrances of festival area to potential respondents and the bringing back questionnaires of participants were collected. Total of 112 usable questionnaires were retained for the analysis. If the population size is 5.000 and sampling error is ± 0.10, 94 sample size is sufficient. Therefore, obtained the number of respondents is above the sample size. The data obtained from the questionnaires were analysed with the IBM SPSS Statistics 21.0 package program. Frequency and rate values were used to find out the generic characteristics of the festival attendees. Mean perceptions of the attendees’ motives were calculated. Construct validity of the motivation scale was checked with exploratory factor analysis. In order to check existence of significant differences between the mean significance scores attributed to the dimensions as a result of the factor analysis and demographic characteristics groups, t-test was used for groups with two variables and one-way ANOVA test for more than two variables.

It was seen that 73.2% of the respondents consist of males and 26.8% females. Of the participants, 80.4% are married. As for age, most respondents were aged 41 to 50 (29.5%) and 18-30 (23.2%). Approximately half of the participants reported monthly income between 2001 and 3000 TL (48.2%). In educational background, it was seen that high school graduates constitute the largest group (53.6%). The participants came from Eskişehir (16.1%), Istanbul (14.3%), Bursa (11.6% ) and Kocaeli (9.8%). 85.7% of the participants stated that they drove to the festivities. It was found out that 27.7% of the survey participants were informed about the festivities through yoruk associations. The factor analysis on the motivational scale yielded four factors. These factors were named considering the statements they contain. The first factor is called “escape/desire for achievement”, the second factor is “novelty/uniqueness seeking”, the third is “historical and cultural exploration/learning”, and the fourth factor is called “institutional factors”. According to t-test results; the factor “Novelty/uniqueness seeking” received higher importance from female participants ( = 3,93) than males ( = 3,37), corresponding to a statistically significant difference (t(110) =2.762; p<0.01). When the factors were checked against previous experience of attendance in the festivities, it was found out that first-time visitors attributed higher importance ( = 4,07) to “Novelty/uniqueness seeking” than repeat visitors  ( = 3,14), posing a significant difference (t(110) =-5.575; p<0.01). With respect to “Historical and cultural exploration/learning”, again it was seen that first-time visitors attributed higher importance ( = 4,77) than repeat visitors ( = 4,45), and the difference was at signficant level (t(110) =-2.223; p<0.05). As a result of the ANOVA test applied in the study statistically significant difference was found between the variable of age group and the factor “Novelty/uniqueness seeking” (F (3.716) = 4.107; p <0.01). Also educational level indicate that the factor of “Escape/desire for achievement” shows a significant difference (F(2,961)=3,108; p<0,05).

The results of the present research show that people mostly attend the festivities for historical, cultural exploration and learning purposes. Therefore, promotion of the “Commemorating Ertugrul Ghazi and Sögüt” festivities should be improved along with publicity works about the historical and cultural importance of the event. As understood from the survey, attendees are most drawn by motives such as remembering their ancestors’ lifestyle, witnessing the traditional and cultural sources of the Ottoman Empire, and learning historical information about establishment of the Ottoman Empire. The second most important factor pushing attendees to the festival was found as quest for novelty/uniqueness. As an example, offering distinct historical foods and drinks like the traditional “meaty bulgur pilaf” as well as developing new touristic products may be tried as initial attempts. Successful tourism development relies on transportation facilities as well as eating and drinking, and entertainment amenities. Hence, transportation facilities to the festival area should be increased first. Also enhancement of accommodation facilities could increase participation in the three-day lasting celebration because 42.9% of the survey respondents said that they travel to and from the destination on a daily basis. Tourism professionals and event managers should understand the motivation of the attenders to the festival for managing and developing the festivals. New studies like this will be needed to provide practical and useful knowledge of these motives.

Keywords: Festival tourism, Festival attendance motivation, Visitors’ motivation,  Sögüt, Turkey.