Visiting friends and relatives

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Visiting friends and relatives (VFR tourism / VFR travel) is a substantial form of travel worldwide. Scholarly interest into VFR travel developed in the mid 1990s after Jackson’s (1990) [1] seminal article suggested that this type of tourism was much larger than official estimates suggested.[2] Most official data collections differentiate travel as being for either leisure, business, or VFR purposes. In many destinations, VFR is the largest or second-largest form of travel by size. Definitions have been traditionally lacking due to the complexities involved in understanding VFR travel. VFR travellers can state a VFR purpose of visit but that does not necessarily mean that they are staying with those friends / relatives. Similarly, they may be accommodated by friends / relatives although have a different purpose of visit.[2]

One definition put forward has been "VFR travel is a form of travel involving a visit whereby either (or both) the purpose of the trip or the type of accommodation involves visiting friends and / or relatives" [3] This has subsequently been developed into a VFR definitional model to describe it visually.[2]

VFR expenditures tend to be quite broad; spread widely throughout the community rather than confined to the narrow tourism sector (McKercher, 1995).[4] In some expenditure categories, VFR travellers have been shown to outspend non-VFR travellers (Seaton & Palmer, 1997;[5] Morrison, Verginis et al., 2000) [6]


  1. ^ Jackson, R. (1990). VFR Tourism: Is It Underestimated? The Journal of Tourism Studies, 1(2), 10-17.
  2. ^ a b c Backer, E. (2009). "Opportunities for Commercial accommodation in VFR travel." International Journal of Travel Research
  3. ^ Backer, E. (2007). "VFR Travel - an examination of the expenditures of VFR travellers and their hosts." Current Issues in Tourism, 10 (4), p.369
  4. ^ McKercher, B. (1995). An examination of host involvement in VFR travel. Proceedings from the National Tourism and Hospitality Conference 1995. Council for Australian University Tourism and Hospitality Education, 246-255.
  5. ^ Seaton, A. & Palmer, C. (1997). Understanding VFR Tourism behaviour: the first five years of the United Kingdom tourism survey. Tourism Management, 18(6), 345-355.
  6. ^ Morrison, A., Verginis, C., & O’Leary, J. (2000). Reaching the unwanted and unreachable: An analysis of the outbound, long haul German and British Visiting Friends and Relatives Market. Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, 2(3), 214-231.