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Tourism Market Segmentation Applied to Coastal and Marine Destinations: A Study from Acapulco, Mexico

Mauricio Carvache-Franco
Wilmer Carvache-Franco
Orly Carvache-Franco
3 and
María Magdalena Solis-Radilla
Facultad de Turismo y Hotelería, Universidad Espíritu Santo, Samborondón 092301, Ecuador
Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y Humanísticas, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, ESPOL, Guayaquil 09015863, Ecuador
Facultad de Especialidades Empresariales, Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil, Guayaquil 090615, Ecuador
Facultad de Turismo, Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero, Acapulco, Guerrero 39610, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13903;
Submission received: 11 November 2021 / Revised: 8 December 2021 / Accepted: 13 December 2021 / Published: 16 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Collection Advances in Marketing and Managing Tourism Destinations)


Coastal and marine destinations offer alternate options for the sun and the beach, options that are related to nature and culture. This empirical study aims to segment the demand of domestic tourism in coastal and marine destinations and its relationship with satisfaction and loyalty. A factorial analysis and an analysis of K-means clusters were used to reduce and group data. Six motivational dimensions are evident heritage and nature, learning, and sun and beach; and physical, authentic coastal experience, novelty, and social interaction. Two segments were found: the “multiple coastal motives,” which returned a high motivation among the motivational variables proposed and are related to all the factors found, and the “beach lovers”, with high motivation in the aspects of sun and beach, resting, and wanting to see things they do not usually see. These two segments are related to the dimensions of sun and beach and novelty. The multiple coastal motives rendered higher levels of satisfaction and in some variables of future behavior, which shows the relationship of the motivation with the visit. The findings are used to develop marketing plans appropriate to the characteristics of the demand found in each group.

1. Introduction

Coastal and marine tourism offer a set of activities related to a destination’s natural and cultural resources. Therefore, the recreational use of the coast and the sea is destined to grow in the future [1]. We can talk about a modality that includes a variety of activities on the coast. In this sense, for [2], marine tourism is related to recreational activities that involve traveling from the place of residence and that have the marine environment as host or focus. Marine tourism currently extends beyond activities on the beach to a wide spectrum of activities, such as diving, snorkeling, windsurfing, water skiing, fishing, kayaking, visiting fishing villages, marine parks and aquariums, sailing and motor boating, and assistance to maritime events, such as races, in addition to local cruises [3]. Hall [4] defined coastal tourism as a form of tourism where the water or sea element is predominant, and it is also considered as a primary asset and advantage. Both types of tourism could offer a generous joint offer for travelers. Orams and Lueck [5] argue that coastal tourism is closely related to marine tourism. The coastal zone is the starting and returning point for most marine tourism activities, such as sailing, diving, cruising, deep-sea fishing, and whale watching.
Additionally, coastal tourism currently includes a wide variety of activities that visitors are keen on performing. These activities include sports such as beach volleyball, coasteering, surfing, kayaking, wellness stays in spas and wellness centers, beach walks, and beachcombing. There is also the observation of nature and wildlife, including activities such as the accumulation of rocks, watching seabirds, turtles, or pinnipeds. Finally, it is worth mentioning voluntary and educational activities, among which beach cleaning, invasive weed eradication, counting species, helping in language schools, or visiting museums can be highlighted [5].
The city of Acapulco is located in the southern area of the Mexican Pacific in the state of Guerrero. It has an extension of 1882.6 km2 that represents 2.6% of the surface of the state and a coastal area of 6224 km, which comprises 12.3% of the Guerrero coast [6]. Its physical conformation is one of the main tourist attractions, which has made it the center of many years’ worth of national and international recognition. Its bay measures 5 km from east to west and 3 km from north to south, with a depth of 45 to 60 m, and it is semicircular in shape, similarly to an amphitheater favoring the panoramic view of the port [7].
Having great tourist offers allowed Acapulco to continue to be the most famous tourist destination in Mexico and the favorite national tourism destination, which is the most relevant in Latin America with important international recognition. In this sense, the importance of this tourist destination with its coastal potential makes scientific research relevant because it has the necessary characteristics to contribute to the academic literature. In this context, no studies have been found that address the segregation of the domestic tourist market in coastal and marine destinations with natural and cultural resources. Even considering other tourist destinations with coastal and marine potential, the number of academic studies that analyze this issue is still scarce in destinations that have this type of resources.
That is why the objective of this study is to segment the demand of domestic tourism in coastal and marine destinations and its relationship with satisfaction and loyalty. Our empirical research could contribute to the existing literature, taking advantage of the appropriate site for this topic. Some elements of marketing such as segmentation and motivation are essential to study in destinations with these natural and cultural characteristics in order to adapt products according to the characteristics of each segment found, based on their motives.

2. Literature Review

2.1. Motivations to Visit Coastal and Marine Destinations

Within the tourism sector, motivations are a set of needs that induce a person to beceome involved in tourism activities [8]. Thus, they can be divided into two main categories: content models and process models [9,10]. For many authors such as Hsu et al. [9], process models are more central than content models and are better at predicting behavior.
In the tourism sector, motivations have been studied previously as a main criterion for market segmentation [11,12,13,14,15]. However, other authors, such as Tkaczynski and Rundle-Thiele [16], have considered sociodemographic aspects.
Regarding the motivations for visiting coastal and marine destinations, one of the first published studies is the one prepared by Kozak [17], who analyzed a group of tourists visiting Mallorca (Spain). This study found that the motivations for visiting this destination were culture, pleasure or fantasy, relaxation, and physical factors. In the same line, Molera and Albaladejo [18] identified five reasons to travel to the marine area of Murcia, also in Spain, which include nature and peacefulness, physical and cultural activities, family, trip features, and rural life.
From another perspective, Yoon and Uysal [19] investigated the motivations of tourists who traveled to Northern Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, establishing eight motivational “Push” factors, emotion, knowledge and education, relaxation, achievement, family union, escape, safety and fun, and observation far from home. They also identified nine “Pull” motivational factors, which include modern atmosphere and activities, ample space and activities, small size and reliability, natural climate, landscape, different culture, cleanliness and shopping, nightlife and local cuisine, exciting city and towns, and aquatic activities. Kassean and Gassita [20], in a study on the island of Mauritius in South Africa, examined the motivational drive and the factors of attraction that affected the decision of tourists in their choice of a holiday destination. The findings show that rest and relaxation are the most robust driving motivation forces, followed by nostalgia, escape, novelty, and social interaction. The critical reasons for the pull were the unique weather and climate of Mauritius, the exquisite landscape, unique flora and fauna, alluring beaches, the exotic environment, the soothing nature of the Mauritian hospitality, and its authentic culture. Additionally, Jeong [21] in a study conducted in Seoul, South Korea, on push and pull motivations established that a marine tourism destination that focuses on static activities should attract tourists who have escape motivations, while a marine tourism destination that focuses on active activities attracts tourists who have innovative motivations.
Saayman et al. [22] studied two marine tourism destinations in Africa to identify the reasons for visiting; the academics established that the motivational factors that are repeated in both locations were escape and relaxation, the attractiveness of the destination, and personal attachment. Although, in Jeffreys Bay, leisure activities and novelty factors were identified and, in Hartenbos, the characteristics of socialization and travel were found as additional reasons for traveling, the academics arguing that different destinations present different motivations for their visits.
In the same line, Van Der Merwe et al. [23] conducted a study in five marine sites in South Africa, finding four motivational factors. The results revealed similarities concerning escape and relaxation as traveling reasons compared to other investigations. However, the uses of time and personal attachment were particular reasons identified in that study. In another study on the same issue, Kruger and Saayman [24] found six reasons to travel for tourists visiting the Tsitsikamma National Park, located in the Indian Ocean in South Africa, that included the quest for knowledge, nature experience, photography, escape and relaxation, park attributes, and nostalgia.
Rid et al. [25] conducted a study applying motivational segmentation in Gambia by identifying the following motivations, namely heritage and nature, authentic rural experience, learning, and the sun and the beach. A different study was published by Ekonomou et al. [26] in Greece; he argued for eight motivating factors, which were beach sites, sustainability, participation costs, accommodation facilities, accessibility, hospitality, learning, and health services.
Carvache-Franco et al. [27], who conducted research in General Villamil Playas in Ecuador, found ecotourism and sun and beach as the motivational factors in this type of destination. In a diving destination in Medes Islands in Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, Palau-Saumell et al. [28] determined that personal escape and personal search are the main motivations to visit the location, and these factors influence the dependence and identity of this venue.
In another investigation performed by Khuu and Nguyen [29] in the Kien Giang province of Vietnam, four factors were analyzed: destination attractiveness, novelty-seeking motivation, tourists’ satisfaction, and destination loyalty. The researchers found that novelty-seeking motivation is governed by the extent of the coastal and marine adventure destination’s attractiveness. In more current research, Güzel et al. [30] conducted research in Antalya on the Mediterranean coast of Southwestern Turkey; they identified six factors: curiosity, relaxation, escape, sport and active life, extravagance, and travel boast. The motivation to find novelty has a positive impact on satisfaction, and transmission positively affects the loyalty of the visitor to the destination of the coastal and marine adventure tourism. In a worldwide study in the period of COVID-19, academics such as Carvache-Franco et al. [31] identified two dimensions of coastal and marine tourism including “Escape”, for the theme “travel” and "sun and beach." For the themes “beach”, “sea”, and “cruise” in this study, the tourism hashtags on Twitter were analyzed. Several motivations related to activities in contact with nature and culture have been part of the previous studies that characterize this type of tourism.

2.2. Segmentation of Demand in Coastal and Marine Destinations

For Woodside and Martin [32] market segmentation offers a competitive advantage for the user, since its importance lies in the fact that most resources should not be wasted when trying to reach the entire market without having clearly set objectives. Thus, this process helps the efficient use of resources. Ho et al. [33] argued that market segmentation represents the decisive criterion for determining which groups of clients should be contacted by tourism operators. Therefore, for Carrascosa-López et al. [34] segmentation by motivations provides management guides to create plans to benefit the sustainability of the destination.
Among the first studies on segmentation in coastal and marine destinations demand, we mention Moscardo et al. [35] who investigated three European destinations, identifying three groups: (a) eco-coastal, (b) active beach, and (c) passive beach. The main elements that define the coastal ecological group were the high scores for activities such as increasing knowledge of the environment through the search for cultural experiences and ethnic tourism and nature-based opportunities such as visits to national parks, forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. In this sense, Reig-García and Coenders-Gallard [36], analyzing tourists who visit the Costa Brava in Spain, analyzed their preferences and environmental perceptions and how these factors affected tourists’ decisions by identifying five segments, namely, dissatisfied, older travelers, returning satisfied travelers, beach lovers, quiet lovers, and nightlife lovers.
Ferreira et al. [14] in a study conducted in Spain found five clusters, namely culture seekers, culture seekers oriented by low prices, sun and tranquility seekers, sun and night lovers, and night lovers oriented by low prices. In the Slovak coastal destination of Portorož, Rudež et al. [37] identified four segments, which include friends-oriented, wellbeing, curious-passive, and multifarious visitors. However, Onofri and Nunes [38], in a coastal and marine study around the world, found two segments of tourist’s including green tourists, who choose seaside destinations because they have a strong preference for cultural and natural environments, and beach lovers who have a great liking for the beach.
In a study on the recreational experience of tourists, Lee et al. [15], in their study on the island of Liuqiu in Taiwan, segmented tourists into four groups: (a) recreation of multiple experiences (these are tourists with high scores in all variables); (b) estheticians, with the highest scores for experiential aesthetics and the lowest factor for experiential learning; (c) hedonists, who obtained the lowest scores in aesthetics, experience, and reflective factors; and finally (d) seekers of knowledge (this group is composed of those who had aesthetic experiences and qualifications for learning factors).
Using ontological methodology, Valls et al. [39] conducted a segmentation of English tourists who visited the coastal destination of Costa Daurada and Terres de l’Ebre in Spain. The authors identified a visiting group, which was motivated by culture, tourism, shopping, and welfare; an enjoying group, which valued vacations, kindness, relaxation, and entertainment; a holidaying group, motivated by beach vacations and vacation destinations; group denominated beaching, whose main motivating factor was the beach; a sunbathing group, whose main concerns were to enjoy the holidays, the beach, and the sun; and a relaxing group, who were motivated by the beach but also associated with the beauty of the place and the landscape, wellbeing, and the relaxation. On the other hand, in relation to the experience with the community around forms of sustainable tourism, on the west coast of Ireland the authors Pafi et al. [40] identified four segments: blue health Seekers; nature Escapers; pristine seekers; and heritage explorers.
Furthermore, Rid et al. [25] segmented tourists based on their motivations and found four groups. These included seekers of culture and nature, who showed great motivation to experience natural and cultural sites; seekers of multiple experiences, who do not show attraction to sun and beach activities but value experiences such as authentic rural experiences, heritage and nature, or learning local dances and languages; multi-experience and beach seekers, who have strong indicators on almost every factor and showed various types of motivation, including sun and sand (however, activities in nature, such as bird watching and fishing, were of moderate interest to them); and finally the sun and beach seekers who were primarily motivated by the sun and the beach.
Ekonomou et al. [26] identified three segments in Greece: (a) cost-sensitive visitors, who consider the costs and expenses to socialize, participate in traditional marine sports, and attend events and nightlife of great importance; (b) demanding beach users, who showed the highest score in the dimension of an organized beach site and considered the regulation of beach zoning important; and (c) visitors oriented to accommodation, which reflected the highest scoring factor for accommodation and showed that adaptation had a significant influence in determining the tourist destination.
In a study in a protected area with coastal and marine characteristics, Carvache-Franco et al. [27] mentioned that they found three tourist segments: they determined the existence of the beach lovers segment, who had high motivations to enjoy the sun and the beach; the coastal nature segment, who had high motivations for enjoying typical gastronomy; the sun and the beach groups, who enjoyed tourist attractions and wanted to know the flora and fauna; and the coastal passive segment, which had medium and low motivations in all aspects.
Then, Carvache-Franco et al. [41], in the surf city of Montañita in Ecuador, spotted four segments. First, they identified the eco-coastal segment, which visited the destination motivated by the climate, the sand, and contact with nature. Second, the indifferent segment was identified, who rated low scores on almost all motivation criteria and were not clearly related to any of the three dimensions identified. Third, the water sports group was identified, which visited the destination by being motivated by surfing and they enjoyed the sun and the beach. The authors also mention the group called sun and beach, which visited the destination and were mainly motivated by resting and relaxation, along with the criteria of enjoying the sun and the beach.
In the coastal and marine city of Manta in Ecuador, Carvache-Franco et al. [42] found the beach lovers segment, whose prominent motivation was to have some rest and enjoy the sun, the beach, and the entertainment activities. The eco-coastal tourists who, in addition to their motivations to rest and to enjoy the sun and the beach, also enjoyed typical cuisine and the attractions offered by the city. A third segment identified was the multiple-reason tourists, who had high motivations for all the attractions available at the site.
In a study conducted by, Tkaczynski and Rundle-Thiele [16], in the coastal destination of Fraser in Australia, found that there were subjects with significant differences in age, travel party composition (TPC), and origin, and three segments were found: the mid-aged family, elderly domestic couples, and young European couples.
We have been able to analyze several segments that have been found in several coastal and marine destinations, and these are related to diverse motivations. It can be established that there are several segments found, but the latest studies coincide with multiple motifs, another of nature, and another of sun and beach. Even a passive or indifferent one appears.

3. Methodology

3.1. Study Area

Acapulco, located on the South Pacific Coast of Mexico, is one of the few destinations in the world that can guarantee sun exposure throughout the year. This location has an annual average temperature of 28 °C, it has a high potential of natural resources in terms of flora and its very varied fauna, and its has hydrological resources among which its beaches and sea of warm waters stand out [6,43]. Acapulco, as it can be seen in Figure 1, is located in an economically privileged area, 411 km south of Mexico City, which is currently its primary national tourism market [43].
Its physical conformation is one of its main tourist attractions, which has provided the location with many years’ worth of national and international recognition. It has a bay measuring 5 km from east to west and 3 km from north to south, it has a depth of forty-five to sixty meters, and it has a semicircular shape resembling an amphitheater that favors the panoramic view of the port [7].
Tourist activity in Acapulco was born and developed natural—not planned—in the heat of the fashion of sun and beach tourism installed around the decade of the 1950s. Its worldwide fame is due, in large part, to the fact that many well-known international film and music stars made this tourist destination their favorite resting place for a long period of time, thus becoming the first international tourist destination in Mexico. Currently, it remains as an internationally recognized tourist destination and one of the most important destinations in Latin America. In recent years, it has become the leading destination for national tourism [44].
Acapulco has hotels offering 18,827 rooms distributed in 512 lodging establishments with categories ranging from large-scale tourism to family administration. In 2017, it registered an influx of 6,548,099 tourists, of which 6,437,071 corresponded to the national segment and 111,028 to foreigners. It ranks fifth in hotel occupancy and eighth as the most visited coastal destination in Mexico [45]. (Figure 1)
The coastline of Acapulco is more than 20 km long; in addition to having beautiful beaches and a warm sea, it offers great scenic natural beauty. This feature allows it, as a tourist destination, to offer an important number of alternatives for the enjoyment of holidays for those who travel in family groups, with their significant others, alone, or with groups of friends, including the opportunity to choose the ones tourists prefer the most. These alternatives include rich and varied gastronomy, sunset tours on yachts by the bay, diving, snorkeling, skiing, sport fishing, windsurfing, jet-skiing, or banana tours. It also offers parachuting, horseback riding on the beach, strolls along the beach on ATVs, the release of turtles, and the spectacle of diving from the ravine. Moreover, for those who enjoy extreme sports, activities such as bungee jumping and crossing the bay of Marquez Port using a zip line are a sample of the available activities, and there is also an offering of a 6-km bike path around the coastal area. This destination offers activities during both day and night, which are the most varied and contribute to achieving unique and unforgettable experiences.

3.2. Instrument, Collection of Data, and Analyses

The present study proposed to carry out a segmentation of domestic tourism markets and their relationship with satisfaction and loyalty in coastal and marine destinations. For this, a questionnaire was used that consisted of seventeen questions grouped into three sections: sociodemographic, motivation, and visitor satisfaction and loyalty. The target population was the visitors involved over eighteen years in the domestic tourism of Mexico who visited Acapulco. The study was conducted only on domestic tourists because this is currently the main type of tourist group who enjoyed the beaches of Acapulco. Therefore, in order to have a clear idea of what the segments are, the research focused only on domestic tourists.
In order achieve the objective of the study, three constructs were measured, namely, sociodemographic aspects, motivations, satisfaction, and loyalty. With the motivations section, we establish the segments of the demand; then, we examine the relationship between the segments found with satisfaction and loyalty in order to establish their importance in relation to the groups found and to create the development strategies of the destination.
The first section of the questionnaire addressed the sociodemographic aspects and characteristics of the trip. The questions were closed and adapted from a study by Lee et al. [15]. The second part dealt with the motivations of the trip and consisted of a scale composed of 23 items, which come from the study by Rid et al. [25] and Carvache-Franco et al. [42]. These questions were measured on a 5-point Likert scale. Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for the final scale of motivations reached the value of 0.90. The third part measured satisfaction and loyalty, and the questions were adapted from the study by Kim and Park [46] and measured on a 5-point Likert scale.
A pilot test was carried out on 30 tourists in order to solve any errors that might occur in the survey. The main corrections made to the questionnaire were in the wording of the motivation scale. The subjects were surveyed at the beaches, which have the largest concentration of national tourists in Acapulco, Papagayo, Caleta, Angosta, Tamarindo, Caletilla, Hornos, Hornitos, Tlacopanocha, Pie de la Cuesta, Countess, Puerto Marques, and Bonfil during the Easter holiday period between the months of March and April of 2019. The survey takers were university students who were previously trained by the authors of this research.
A representative sample of the population was collected with a reduced version of the entire population, where all the different characteristics of the population were present, with equal inclusion of probabilities [47]. In order to obtain a representative sample of visitors, the sample was collected at the different beaches mentioned above, according to the number of visitors to these sites. In addition, the sample was collected at different times of the day. In this manner, the sample presented characteristics and structure that were very similar to the total population. For the calculation of the sample size, confidence levels of 95% and a variation of 50% were used. The margin error was +/− 4.7%. The sample size reached was 441 valid surveys, and an infinite population was used. Factorial analysis was applied as a data reduction technique, and it was necessary for explaining the correlations between the variables observed in terms of a smaller number of non-observed variables called factors. Moreover, an analysis of K-means clusters was used as a method for grouping cases, which is based on the distances between them in a set of variables. The data obtained were organized, tabulated, and analyzed using the SPSS program version 22.

4. Results

4.1. Sociodemographic Profile of the Sample

The sample consisted of 441 domestic tourists, of which 46.5% were men and 53.5% were women. The majority group included tourists between 21 and 30 years old that constituted 29.3%, followed by the group that was in the range between 31 and 40 years old with 27.7%. Regarding their marital status, they were mostly married at 55.3%. Most had a university education at 38.80%. The vast majority traveled as a family at 87.5%.

4.2. Motivations to Visit Coastal and Marine Destinations

The motivations tourists have to visit a coastal and marine destination were collected on a 5-point Likert scale, where 1 is little motivated and 5 represented very much motivated. For this research, the Cronbach Alpha coefficient of the final scale reached a robust value of 0.90, which indicates a meritorious internal consistency between the elements that are a part of the scale.
For the present study, we performed factor analysis to facilitate the interpretation of the results. This analysis showed six factors that explain the motivational variables used in this study. Principal component analysis was used as a data reduction technique. The Varimax rotation method was used to order the factors, with very high or low factor loads. The Kaiser criterion was used to find the number of suitable factors where only factors with eigenvalues greater than one are taken into account. The six factors found represented 61.5% of the total variance, and this was a sufficient total variance value to explain this model. The KMO index is equal to 0.89; thus, the relationship between the variables is very high, and factor analysis is justified. In addition, the Barlett’s test of sphericity was significant, <0.05; thus, the use of factor analysis was recommended. The results are shown in Table 1.
Based on the results shown in Table 1, the first factor was called “Heritage and nature”, and it was the factor with the greatest explanatory power, 31.92%, of the total variance. This first factor was related to the importance of coastal and marine tourism and tourism in natural areas, the importance of the history and culture of Acapulco, and the motivation to experience marine wildlife and national parks. The second factor was called “Learning”, and it reached 7.89% of the total variance. This second factor is related to the learning of local languages and traditional dances and the interest in myths and legends. The third factor was called “Sun and beaches and physical”, and it covered 6.74% of the total variance. This factor was related to swimming, water sports, sun and beach tourism, and nightlife. The fourth factor was named “Authentic Coastal Experience” and included 5.34% of the total variance. This fourth dimension was related to the experiences of real cultures and traditions, experiences of historical attractions, and experiences related to the coastal landscape of Acapulco. The fifth factor was addressed as “Social interaction” and comprised 5.04% of the total variance. This fifth factor was related to a visitor motivated to remain among the coastal population, sharing interesting experiences with the locals and the lifestyle of the coastal community of Acapulco. The sixth factor was called "Novelty" and made up 4.56% of the total variance. This sixth factor was related to the motivation that visitors had to observe things that they normally do not have the opportunity to observe, and this included the rest of the tourist attractions.
As shown in Table 2, the first group was formed by tourists who had a high motivation in all the motivational variables, which is why this segment has been called Multiple Coastal Motives. Moreover, it was related to all the motivational dimensions. On the other hand, the second group was formed by tourists who had high motivation in aspects related to the sun and the beach, resting, and wanting to see things that they do not usually see, which is why this cluster has been called beach lovers. Likewise, it was related to the sun and beach dimension and the novelty dimension.

4.3. Relationship of the Segments with the Variable Satisfaction at the Destination

The Chi-square test was used to analyze the significant relationship between the segments with their general satisfaction. Moreover, a 5-point Likert scale was used, where 1 is represents the least satisfied, and 5 represents very satisfied. The results are shown in Table 3.
As Table 3 shows, a relationship was found between the segments and tourist satisfaction (p < 0.05). The multiple coastal motives segment represented 36.7% of the tourists who showed a high level of satisfaction, while the beach lovers segment amounted to 22.7% of the tourists who reported experiencing a high level of satisfaction. In this manner, the segments with higher levels of motivation showed higher levels of satisfaction in this coastal and marine destination.

4.4. Relationship of the Segments with the Variable Intentions of Future Behavior

The Chi-square test was used to analyze the significant relationship of the segments with the variables of future behavior. Moreover, a Likert scale of 5 points has been used, where 1 is represents the least satisfied, and 5 represents very satisfied. The results are shown in Table 4.
As Table 4 shows, a significant relationship has been found between the segments and the intentions to return, to recommend, and to say positive things about the destination as loyalty variables (p < 0.05).
Regarding the intentions to return to the destination, the multiple coastal motives segment added 45.80% of the tourists who expressed high levels of intentions to return to the destination, while the beach lovers segment added a total of 35.60% of the tourists who showed high levels in this variable. Therefore, it can be established that the segments that accumulated higher levels of motivation also reported higher levels of intentions to return to destinations with coastal and marine characteristics.
Regarding the intentions to recommend the destination, in the multiple coastal motives segment, 45.10% of the tourists showed high intentions to recommend the destination, while in the beach lovers segment, 33.10% of the Respondents commented that they would do so and would also recommend the destination. Consequently, the segments with higher levels of motivation had higher levels of intentions to recommend this coastal and maritime destination.
Considering the variable “When I speak of Acapulco I will say positive things”, in the multiple coastal motives segment, 43.80% of tourists showed that they would say more positive things about the destination, while in the "beach lovers" segment, 33.60% of tourists respondents confirmed that they would express more positive things about the destination. Therefore, the segments with higher levels of motivation would comment more positive things about the destination.

5. Discussion

The main objective of this study is to establish a segmentation based on the motivations and the relationship of these segments with various variables that affect the future behavior of the visit, such as satisfaction, return, recommendation, and saying positive things about the coastal and marine destination. Thus, the motivations reported in this critical destination of world tourism are related to some findings existing in the literature. The motivations in question were heritage and nature, similar to the studies performed by Kassean and Gassita, [20], Ekonomou et al. [26], Rid et al. [25], and Carvache-Franco et al. [27]. Learning was analogous to studies presented by Ekonomou et al. [26] and Rid et al. [25]. Sun and beach and physical factors were similar to the findings in Carvache-Franco [27]; Carvache-Franco et al. [31]; Ekonomou et al. [26]; Güzel et al. [30]; and Rid et al. [25]. The motivation of authentic coastal experience has also been registered by Rid et al. [25]. Social interaction is another motivation also asserted by Kassean and Gassita [20]. Novelty was found, similarly to Güzel et al. [30] and Kassean and Gassita [20].
The contribution to the literature of this study is to find, together in the same location, the motivations found by Rid et al. [25] (heritage and nature, learning, sun and beach and physical, and authentic coastal experience), and our study also adverted the existence of social interaction and novelty, motivations similarly found in the studies of Kassean and Gassita [20]. Our study reveals a set of six motivations that shape the nature and culture of coastal and marine tourism.
With regards to the segmentation of demand, the two segments found to be similar to those found by Rid et al. [25], who identified the multi-experience and beach seekers, and culture and nature seekers, who are both similar to our multiple coastal motives; and the sun and beach seekers, who are similar to the beach lovers mentioned in this research. On the other hand, Carvache-Franco et al. [42], found multiple motives and eco-coastal factors, which together resemble the group of multiple coastal motives of this study; and beach lovers, similarly to our beach lovers. Another study implemented by Onofri and Nunes [38] found greens, who exhibited some motivations similar to multiple coastal motives of this study; and beach lovers, who are also very similar to our identified beach lovers. Valls et al. [39] found three groups, namely beaching, sunbathing, and relaxing; these segments are quite similar to our beach lovers. They also found a group of visitors similar to the multiple coastal motives group resulting from this research study.
The contribution made by the present study is that, in a coastal and marine destination, the groups of tourists identified as eco-coastal or seekers of culture and nature and the named multiple motives group were found in a single segment, which we have named multiple coastal motives. A second contribution was found for two groups of tourists, multiple motives and beach lovers, who exhibited motivations typical of a coastal and marine destination such as those found in similar studies [25,38,39,42]. The segments found and combined several coastal motivations that identify visitors seeking this type of destination.
In relation to domestic tourism, it has been found that this demand is centered on six motivational dimensions found in this study that include culture, nature, and social. Moreover, this type of demand was formed by two groups of tourists, multiple coastal motives and beach lovers, both with different characteristics. Therefore, there are differences that have been found with other studies that analyze international and domestic tourists in a single sample; this is an important contribution to the academic literature. Likewise, we have found a similarity with other studies where the multiple coastal motives segment is the group that shows greater satisfaction, recommendation, possibility of return, and had positive things to say about the coastal and marine destination. That is to say that our results do coincide with previous findings that have studied international demands, which means a contribution to the academic literature.

6. Conclusions

In order to create brands and products of tourist destinations, it is necessary to develop demand studies to know segments and their motivations. Demand studies based on motivations and segmentation in coastal and marine destinations are quite crucial for tourism service providers and public sector planners. A coastal destination is one where tourists have other options other than only enjoying sun and beach activities, and these include options related to nature and culture such as hiking, visits to communities, water sports, navigation, museums, and contact with the local population. Considering the above mentioned findings, Acapulco as a destination has coastal and marine characteristics that make it appropriate for the application of our study and for generalizing findings in this subject that until now were scarce in terms of scientific production.
There are six coastal and marine motivational dimensions that cover a destination with these characteristics, which include heritage and nature, learning, sun and beach and physical factors, and authentic coastal experience, added to social interaction and novelty. The dimensions that come from previous findings were the most suitable for finding the segments of demand because they were a mixture that covered this type of tourism.
The study found two coastal and marine segments in the demand. The multiple coastal motives, who present high motivations in all motivational variables used and are related to all motivations found. Beach lovers demonstrated high motivation in aspects related to the sun and beach, rest, and wanting to see things they usually do not see. This cluster was related to the sun and beach dimension, as well as the novelty one. In addition, the multiple coastal motives group evidenced higher levels of satisfaction and some variables of future behavior than compared to beach lovers; thus, there is a relationship between motivations and variables of satisfaction and future behavior.
As for theoretical implications, the study in relation to domestic tourism revealed motivational dimensions in relation to heritage and nature, learning, sun and beach, and physical, authentic coastal experience, novelty, and social interaction, which was also found by [20,25]. That is, a difference has been found in relation to other studies that analyzed demands involving international tourists, which means a contribution to the academic literature. The coastal and marine segments found are similar to those identified in other studies as well [25,38,39,42]. However, in analyzing domestic tourism, the present study detected that, in a coastal and marine destination, it is possible to find a segment classified as multiple coastal motives, which posed characteristics of multiple reasons found by other authors and of eco-coastal or seekers of culture and nature identified in other studies [25,38]. These findings are a contribution to the academic literature on the demand for domestic tourism in this type of tourism.
In relation to practical implications, the study will be useful for tourism service providers in elaborating products and brands according to the motivational factors found and those related to the characteristics of each segment. The products should be directed to the market by using marketing strategies adopting the criteria found. The destination should create visits to spot flora and fauna, typical gastronomy workshops, and visits to the communities and historical places of the site in order to increase the motivations of the multiple coastal motives tourist. Moreover, administrators and tourism service providers should create recreational activities on the beach, water sports competitions, swimming lessons, and other sports such as surfing and music festivals in order to increase the motivations for the beach lover tourist in becoming more loyal to this coastal site. Tourism service providers could develop products related to the motivations that are related to the satisfaction and loyalty of the segments found. These products could be related to nature, culture, and social life. For example, this could include creating a calendar of festivals with various types of events such as gastronomic, musical, and theatrical events. Educational workshops could also be created with workshops related to coastal activities such as environmental education, handicrafts with sea products, coastal gastronomy, marine flora, and fauna sightings. Courses in swimming, sailing, water sports, photography, and gastronomy could also be offered. Social events could be implemented by adapting restaurants and hotels to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings, engagements, and congresses.
Finally, the main limitation of the present manuscript was the temporality in which the surveys were carried out, because demand may vary in terms of sociodemographic and motivational characteristics. As a future line of research, it would be important to carry out a study of the image of the destination concerning its segmentation.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, M.C.-F., W.C.-F., O.C.-F. and M.M.S.-R.; methodology, M.C.-F., W.C.-F. and O.C.-F.; software, M.C.-F. and O.C.-F.; validation, M.C.-F. and W.C.-F.; formal analysis, M.C.-F. and W.C.-F.; investigation, M.C.-F., W.C.-F., O.C.-F. and M.M.S.-R.; resources, M.C.-F., W.C.-F., O.C.-F. and M.M.S.-R.; data curation, M.C.-F. and W.C.-F.; writing—original draft preparation, M.C.-F. and W.C.-F.; writing—review and editing, M.C.-F., W.C.-F., O.C.-F. and M.M.S.-R.; visualization, M.C.-F., W.C.-F. and O.C.-F.; supervision, M.C.-F.; project administration, M.C.-F. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


Current study no received any external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

Not applicable.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that do not have any conflict of interest.


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Figure 1. Geographic location of Acapulco.
Figure 1. Geographic location of Acapulco.
Sustainability 13 13903 g001
Table 1. Factor analysis.
Table 1. Factor analysis.
Factors Factor LoadsEigenvalues% of Explained Variance
Heritage and nature 7.3431.92
Importance of coastal and marine tourism0.761
Importance of tourism in natural areas0.702
Importance of Acapulco’s history and culture0.690
Experience marine wildlife sites and national parks0.609
Learning 1.817.89
Learning local languages0.820
Learning traditional dances0.796
Interest in myths and legends0.690
Sun and beach, and physical 1.556.74
Importance of swimming0.785
Importance of water sports0.755
Importance of sun-beach tourism0.591
Nightlife 0.538
Authentic coastal experience 1.235.34
Real culture and traditions experiences0.823
Historical attractions experiences0.764
Experiences related to the coastal landscape0.566
Social interaction 1.165.04
Stay among the coastal population0.776
Access to rural farm goods0.616
Strong feelings of experiences lived0.584
Sharing interesting experiences with the local population0.516
The lifestyle of the coastal population0.505
Novelty 1.054.56
I want to see the things that I normally do not see0.761
Environmental quality of air, water, and soil0.655
To rest and relax0.630
For its tourist attractions0.535
Total variance extracted 61.50
Table 2. Characterization of the clusters based on the motivational variables.
Table 2. Characterization of the clusters based on the motivational variables.
Motivations Multiple Coastal MotivesBeach Lovers
Importance of tourism in natural areas4.373.32
Importance of Acapulco’s history and culture4.242.7
Importance of coastal and marine tourism4.393.33
Experience marine wildlife sites and national parks4.383.03
Historical attractions experiences3.872.45
Real culture and traditions experiences4.012.63
Experiences related to the coastal landscape 4.563.87
Access to rural farm goods3.692.32
Sharing interesting experiences with the local population4.142.89
Staying among the coastal population3.692.26
Strong feelings of experiences lived4.273.25
The lifestyle of the coastal population 4.053.02
Learning traditional dances3.331.71
Learning local languages 3.321.58
Interest in myths and legends3.972.05
Importance of sun-beach tourism4.764.03
Importance of swimming4.533.43
Importance of water sports4.413.35
To rest and relax4.784.5
Environmental quality of air, water, and soil4.413.65
I want to see the things that I usually do not see4.494.26
For its tourist attractions4.624.14
Table 3. Relationship of the segments with general satisfaction.
Table 3. Relationship of the segments with general satisfaction.
Variable Cluster Case NumberTotal (%)Chi- squaredSig.
Multiple Coastal Motives (%)Beach Lovers
Overall satisfaction1 33.9030.000
2 0.500.50
Total 51.9048.10100.00
Table 4. Relationship of the segments with the intentions of future behavior.
Table 4. Relationship of the segments with the intentions of future behavior.
Variable Cluster Case NumberTotal
Multiple Coastal Motives (%)Beach Lovers (%)
I have the intention to return this destination1 0.200.2016.1790.003
Total 51.9048.10100.00
I have the intention to recommend this destination1 0.200.2024.2740.000
Total 51.9048.10100.00
When I talk about this destination, I will give positive comments1 0.200.2016.7610.002
Total 51.9048.10100.00
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Carvache-Franco, M.; Carvache-Franco, W.; Carvache-Franco, O.; Solis-Radilla, M.M. Tourism Market Segmentation Applied to Coastal and Marine Destinations: A Study from Acapulco, Mexico. Sustainability 2021, 13, 13903.

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Carvache-Franco M, Carvache-Franco W, Carvache-Franco O, Solis-Radilla MM. Tourism Market Segmentation Applied to Coastal and Marine Destinations: A Study from Acapulco, Mexico. Sustainability. 2021; 13(24):13903.

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Carvache-Franco, Mauricio, Wilmer Carvache-Franco, Orly Carvache-Franco, and María Magdalena Solis-Radilla. 2021. "Tourism Market Segmentation Applied to Coastal and Marine Destinations: A Study from Acapulco, Mexico" Sustainability 13, no. 24: 13903.

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