The role of automobile associations and clubs
Automobile clubs have a history of service to automobile owners that commenced shortly after the first cars began appearing on the road. In Figure 1.2 (p. 10), attention was drawn to the importance of automobile clubs that, along with other destination pull factors including policing, the highway network, attractions, accommodation, and so on, create the drive experience. Today, automobile clubs continue to provide a comprehensive range of services, including many that make a direct contribution to the enhancement of the drive tourism experience. As this chapter demonstrates, the role of automobile clubs has expanded over past decades while membership rates remain high in many nations. In the US, for example, there are over 50 million members of the 69 affiliated clubs in the American Automobile Association (AAA), while in Queensland, Australia, the Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) has a membership of about 1.2 million, or a quarter of the state’s population. This chapter briefly reviews the roles and functions of automobile clubs, with a specific emphasis on their contribution to drive tourism. The chapter concludes with a case study that examines the contribution made to drive tourism in Queensland, Australia by the RACQ.