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Design of Urban Tourist Routes for Puebla City

A Cluster Analysis Application

Author:  Raúl Valdez M. Ph.D.  Associate professor,  Business & Marketing Department. Business School
Universidad de las Américas Puebla. México E-mail:

 presented at the  Cuarta Feria Ecoturistica y de Produccion 15 – 23 July, 2000
Buena Noche de Hato Nuevo, Manoguayabo,  Santo Domingo, D.N., Republica Dominicana

© Raul Valdez 2000


Mexico has many competitive advantages in the tourist sector by its extraordinary biological, natural, cultural and historical diversity. They are many and very diversified tourist attractions like a favorable climate in most of its territorial extension, hotel infrastructure, small towns and cities of great beauty, a rich archaeological patrimony, cultural manifestations of great colorful diversity and, a gastronomy of world-wide fame and a hostess people characterized by their hospitality.

Although we can find zones of great tourist beauty almost in all the country, the State of Puebla counts in general with a great variety of tourist attractions and, particularly, the city of Puebla, its capital, declared by UNESCO Cultural Patrimony of the Humanity represents a wonderful tourist destination both historical and cultural being considered an important receiver of national and international tourism.

Theoretical Framework

From the decade of the 80's, urban tourism has increased in a significant way around the world. For economic reasons mainly, the governments and ministries of economy of many countries have considered tourism as an important source of income generation. In this context, the urban tourism promotion represents an opportunity to revitalize the city and regional economy, and at the same time, to dignify and preserve the architectonic and cultural richness of the cities considered as centers of tourist development (Law, 1993).

From this point of view, Jansen-Verbeke (1988) as well as Buckley and Witt (1985, 1989), (cited by Law, 1993) postulate that urban regeneration for tourist purposes is not a single and valid approach for the great cities, but that also for more small towns and regions offering tourist attractions quite different from the traditional recreational destinations like sea and beaches.

On the other hand, like a special tourism typology, urban tourism has provoked extensive and serious reflections concerning the paradigmatic tourist’s definition. Thus, Chadwick (1987) proposes a tourist classification in which overnight stayers and day-trippers are considered.

The urban tourist product has well been defined by Jansen-Verbeke (1988) as historic buildings, urban landscapes, museums and art galleries, theatres, sport and events. She classifies the elements of urban tourism in primary elements (cultural facilities, physical characteristics, sports and amusements facilities and socio-cultural features), secondary elements (hotel and catering facilities and markets) and additional elements (accessibility, parking, information offices, signposts guides, maps, etc.).

On the other hand, considering the wide recreational options that the urban tourism represents, the governments and ministries of tourism must be able to create strategic tourist marketing plans in order to assure the supply of infrastructure services contributing to create more employment and, therefore, to economic development.

Ashworth (1994) considers that the marketing of tourist destinations is a distinguishing form of commercialization of services that is founded on the traveller’s social dimension. Heath and Wall (1992), Kotler, Haider and Rein (1993) as well as Athiyaman (1995) establish that the strategy of tourism commercialization of a particular destination is based on the image that the traveller has in his mind concerning the attributes of this site

Crompton et al. (1993) consider that images constitute the foundation of the tourist destinations choice process. Thus, every city, as a tourist destination, can be considered as a global image, which is integrated by climatic factors, tourism infrastructure, tourism superstructure, services and cultural attributes that the traveller shapes from his perceptions and his symbolic interpretation of this global image (Telisman-Kosuta, 1989).

Gunn, 1972, (cited by Chon, 1991) establishes that the tourist destinations can convey images that are artificially created by a particular marketing strategy. Then, the existing contrast between the created image and the perceived reality is, often, the cause of the tourist’s dissatisfaction. On this point, Bourdeau (1991) thinks that images and attitudes that the traveller adopts towards certain tourist destinations depends on the differences resulting from the tourist’s experiences lived in situ and his tourism background.

On the other hand, Mill and Morrison (1992) establish that the travel reasons are rooted in sociological and psychological factors like the satisfaction of hedonist reasons, recognition needs or self-esteem and personal success. On this subject, Goodall and Ashworth (1990) classifies the tourist’s needs in physiological (health, relaxation), cultural (learning, personal overcoming), social (visits to relatives or friends) and of fantasy (the challenge and daily escape before the strange).


Research objectives.

The specific objectives of this investigation were:

1. To know the global image that Puebla City visitors have as tourist.
2. To determine the experiences lived by the tourist visiting Puebla City.
3. To identify the mean tourism attractions, in order to design the more accurate urban tourism routes of Puebla City.
Instruments of measurement

A structured questionnaire was designed for this study. The questions were based on other instruments previously employed and empirically verified concerning both, their validity and reliability. The questionnaire employed for this study was integrated by the sections A, B and C. The A section was designed to determine the global image of Puebla City into the tourist mind.

Section B was designed to determine the leisure experiences that Puebla’s City visitors have when they visit this city. Finally, section C of the questionnaire was used to obtain the demographic profile of the interviewed people.

Part A of the questionnaires contents is a measurement scale developed from a preceding study made by Hu and Ritchie (1993). The study purpose was to know the specific importance of tourist attractions each one, containing a particular tourism destination, as well as the visitors perceptions concerning the ability of each destination to satisfy their leisure needs in terms of their recreational and holiday experience.

For the purposes of this study, 12 of Puebla’s tourist attractions were chosen. These sites were:

Rosary’s Chapel Amparo Museum
Main City’s Theater Bello y González Museum
Puebla’s Cathedral Hostess attitude to visitors
Artist’s District and El Parián Market Typical Gastronomy
Loreto and Guadalupe Forts Cholula’s Pyramid
Africam Safari Zoo Urban landscape

For the answers measurement, a 5 points Likert type scale was used where 5 value means that the tourist attraction is most important, and number 1, that it is less important for the tourist. The scale contents 12 items.

Section B of the questionnaire consists of another scale of measurement based on the instrument used by Valdez (1998) to measure the tourist travel experiences. This instrument was also developed from two previously used scales.

The first scale, named SLS Scale (Subjective Leisure Scale) was developed by Unger and Kernan, 1983, (cited by Bearden, Netemeyer and Mobley, 1983) to measure the individual satisfaction and the filings of freedom, success, and implication experimented by the traveller during the leisure tourist voyages.

The second scale was developed by Otto and Ritchie (1996) to measure the hedonist experiences, the mental comfort and the implication and social recognition that travellers experimented during their voyages.

In the case of this study, the instrument used in section B is a 7 points Likert type scale where 7 value means the " total agreement " option and 1 value means "total disagreement" option. The scale contains 8 items.

Section C of the instrument comprises two sections. The first section containss 4 demographic questions, and the second, 7 questions oriented to know the more important sites (not included in the questionnaire) that, in according to tourist opinion, will be considered in the design of the most attractive urban tourism routes for Puebla City.

Measurement instruments validation

To evaluate the questionnaire effectiveness, two types of analysis were performed. The first, was a Cronbach’s alpha (a ) analysis to measure the internal congruency (reliability) of the items included in the scales, whereas the second, was a confirmatory factorial analysis to assess if the scale’s items comprised in section B, truly measure the tourists experiences lived by them during their visit to Puebla City.

The results of reliability analysis show values like a = 0.845 for the global image scale and a =0.7906 for the lived experiences scale. Thus, both scales can be considered as reliable instruments.

Concerning the factorial analysis practiced to the voyage experiences scale, as we expect, the results confirmed the existence of two factors: factor A (items 4, 5, 6 and 8) related to the pleasure experiences, the relax opportunities, the confidence filings and the tourist opportunity to learn, and factor B (items 1, 2, 3 and 7) associated with the emotive experiences, the challenge sensations, the filings of discover and freedom of current life (see appendix A).

Sample determination

From a population universe defined as all people who visit Puebla City with leisure aims, the sampling unit’s profile was defined as "all those travellers both national or foreigners who, having stay one night at least in Puebla City, ha declared to visit it with tourist aims".

In agreement with the required profile, the total number of individuals interviewed was determined by means of a convenience sampling whose objective was to select the most accurate individuals (Weiers, 1987) being exposed to the tourist experiences on a predetermined (Malhotra, 1997).

One hundred and twenty travellers interviewed the Saturday and Sunday days integrated the study sample. Each interviewed person spent, in average, 15 minutes to respond the entire questionnaire that was applied to him by the interviewers. The interviewed people were contacted in 4 different sites on the city (historical center, Africam Safari Zoo, Cholula’s pyramid and hotels of 4 and 5 stars).


Interviewed demographic profile

According to the results obtained, men (57,50%) and women (42.50%) integrate the tourist profile of Puebla City visitors. Most of the interviewed people are married, being in a rank of age between 31 and 45 years old, with a superior level of education and generally coming from Mexico City.

The majority of visitors are lodged in hotels. They travel by car and arriving on weekends. Being familiar trips, the 52,50% of this kind of visitors come to Puebla looking for leisure and relaxation.

Tourist image of Puebla City

In general terms, we can conclude that Puebla City has a tourist destination image of cultural and historical type with a social atmosphere that causes sensations of both, hedonism and culture enrichment, involved by a slightly emotional feellings.

In agreement with the perception of the tourists interviewed, the visited sites can be classified according to four basic characteristics. These characteristics are cultural nature, historical nature, inner location and outer location (see table 1).

Table 1

Mainly Cultural
Cholula’s Pyramid

Amparo Museum

Rosary’s Chapel

Bello y González Museum
Rosary’s Chapel

Puebla’s Cathedral

Mainly Histórical
Africam Safari Zoo

Loreto and Guadalupe Forts

Artist’s District

El Parián Market


Other tourist aspects of a cultural nature also exist, such as the hostess attitude towards the tourist, the typical gastronomy, and the urban landscape. In this respect, the tourists interviewed said to have found a positive and friendly attitude towards the tourism coming from residents of the city. Also, they said that Puebla’s gastronomy has specific attributes that distinguish it from other sites that already had visited in Mexico, and that the urban landscape that surrounds the main sites of historical and cultural kind corresponds well to the colonial character of Puebla City.

Experiences lived by the tourists visiting Puebla City

The different aspects denoting the travel experiences lived by the Puebla City tourists were, in general, positively evaluated. In exception of the challenge degree that these travel experiences represent for the tourist, the other travel experiences were well ranked (6 points over 7). This means that to visit Puebla City represents, for the tourist, an exciting, new and pleasant experience that gives him the opportunities for relax in a confidence atmosphere that allows learning on the historical and cultural importance of this city.

Identification of the main tourist routes for Puebla City

To identify the sites of greater tourist interest and their associated urban routes the Cluster Analysis was employed.

The Cluster Analysis is a multivariate technique used to group objects based on a specific characteristic or attribute. In this case the Cluster Analysis was utilized for made clusters of tourist sites (see appendix B).

The clustered objects resulting must show a high internal homogeneity (within-cluster) and, by consequence, a high external heterogeneity (between-cluster). The Cluster Analysis results are shown in the exhibit 1.

Exhibit 1

As we can observe in exhibit 1, the cluster analysis results allows the formation of of two main groups. The first group is integrated by the Loreto and Guadalupe Forts, the Bello y González Museum, the Africam Safari Zoo, the Artist’s District, and the El Parián Market. The second group is formed by the Rosary’s Chapel, the Amparo Museum, the Puebla’s Cathedral, the Cholula’s Pyramid and the Main City Theater.

With regards to the identification of the main sites of tourist attractiveness of the Puebla City, the Cluster Analysis results suggests the creation of two main tourist routes:

Route A:

This route is composed by historical sites, with the exception of the Africam Safari Zoo. Some sites are outer places whereas others, like the museums, are inner attractions. Specifically, this tourist route is integrated by: the Loreto and Guadalupe Forts, the Bello y González Museum, the Africam Safari Zoo, the Artist’s District and the El Parían Market.

Route B:

Cultural sites that are enjoyed in an inner atmosphere integrate this route. The sites included in route B are: the Rosary’s Chapel, the Amparo Museum, the Puebla’s Cathedral, the Cholula’s Pyramid and the Mean City Theatre. They are also cultural places with a slight tendency to historical dimension. This is the case of the Rosary’s Chapel and Puebla’s Cathedral.


Concerning the general objective of this study, we can conclude that the distinctive Puebla City tourist profile is mainly related to culture and history.

The visitor perceives Puebla City as a tourist destination having a social atmosphere enabling it to live hedonist and cultural experiences. The image that the visitors of Puebla City have in their minds seems to be composed by cultural and historical dimensions that can be enjoyed in both, outer and inner atmospheres.

Concerning the travel experiences lived by the visitors of Puebla City; it was observed that a favorable social atmosphere towards the cultural tourism characterizes them. The visitor thinks that he has lived a pleasant experience having the opportunity for being relaxed and, at the same time, for improving his personal culture.Concerning the identification of the main tourist attractions for the development of well-focused tourist urban routes, the study has identified two main tourist routes. The tourist route A integrated by historical sites, and the tourist route B, integrated by cultural sites.

In managerial terms, we could conclude that the identification of these main urban tourist routes offers a conceptual basis for the planning, design and marketing of cultural tourism programs for Puebla City.


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    Note: Appendix A: FACTOR ANALYSIS  and Appendix B:  HIERARCHICAL CLUSTER  ANALYSIS could not be converted in to HTML..

    © Kalalú-Danza / Raúl Valdez 2000

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