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Spring Break Travel: Thirty Years of Scholarly Evidence, 1980–2010

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Spring break is a week-long North American collegiate travel vacation period that draws hundreds of thousands of young tourists to a few select tourism destinations, and has become a topic of growing social and economic importance. In spite of a rising interest by tourism scholars, most of the spring break literature remains dispersed through a wide variety of outlets and disciplines. Moreover, critical appraisals of the current spring break literature in light of the wider phenomenon of youth tourism are absent. The present study presents an integrative and comprehensive assessment of extant spring break literature for the 30-year period of 1980–2010. Our findings identified literature focusing primarily on college students' motivations and behavior while on spring break, with an emphasis on risky health behaviors such as alcohol consumption and unprotected sex. The majority of the studies surveyed relied heavily on quantitative approaches of data collection and analysis. This review found numerous discrepancies in regard to spring breakers' previous intentions, motivations, behavior, involvement in the spring break experience, and factors affecting spring break behavior. This review highlighted the complexity of the spring break phenomenon, as well as the necessity of moving beyond the "Spring bacchanal" paradigm. Directions for future research based upon contradictions and/or gaps identified in the literature are discussed.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2012

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  • Tourism Review International is a peer-reviewed journal that advances excellence in all fields of tourism research, promotes high-level tourism knowledge, and nourishes cultural awareness in all sectors of the tourism industry by integrating industry and academic perspectives. Its international and interdisciplinary nature ensures that the needs of those interested in tourism are served by documenting industry practices, discussing tourism management and planning issues, providing a forum for primary research and critical examinations of previous research, and by chronicling changing tourism patterns and trends at the local, regional and global scale.
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