Visiting friends and relatives

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. 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.