Environmental Dimensions of an Ethical Tourist Destination Image 

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Factors Influencing the Meaning of Destination Image

The factors influencing the meaning of destination image come from an array of elements such as the components of the image construct as well as the considered impacts that are included in the measurement of destination image. This has generated many definitions to this discipline, creating ambiguity and at times uncertainty in this research domain. This was highlighted by researchers Echtner and Ritchie (1991; 1993) who noted that whilst assessing methods used to define and measure destination image, many of the definitions used in previous studies (from 1975 – 1990) were vague and incomplete. Tasci et al., (2007, p. 201) also found through their research on conceptualization and operationalization of destination image that “a substantial number of destination image researchers do not provide any definition as a frame of reference.” From the literature most authors are in agreement as to the importance of tourist destination image, however their definitions of image and methods of measuring vary to some extent. This has generated a variety of definitions and forms of measurement which researchers employ depending on their actual study (O’Leary & Deegan, 2003). In reality it is therefore not surprising that there are so many different definitions of destination image, with the possibility that the research may be measuring a certain image component (cognitive, affective, global) or a particular part of the image formation process or the factors influencing destination image.
One of the most cited definitions of destination image in the literature comes from Crompton (1979, p. 18) who defines the tourist destination image as, “the sum of beliefs, ideas and impressions that a person has of a destination” referring to the cognitive component of the image construct (Gartner, 1994). A cognitive image derives from what we believe that we know about an object, via our experience, education and learning.
Lawson and Baud-Bovy (1977, p. 10) state that image is an “expression of all knowledge impressions, prejudices and emotional thoughts an individual group has of a particular object or place” including the affective elements of destination image formation, which is unusual for earlier work. Much of the research carried out pre 1990’s measured the cognitive component of the image construct using a structured questionnaire with questions that derived from the destination’s attributes and/or brochures (Tasci et al., 2007). Research that assisted managers in understanding the affective evaluations, such as what the individual felt about the image and the stimulated emotions that came from the image was carried out post 1990’s with reference to both cognitive and affective evaluations enabling the total impression of a destination image to be examined. This is given in Milman and Pizam’s definition (1995, p. 21) where the authors note that destination image is “a sum total of the images of the individual elements or attributes that make up the tourism experience.”
Assael’s (1984) understanding of image relates to the processing of information that comes from an array of sources over a period of time which enables a total perception of a product. This definition relates to the image formation process models provided by theorist’s Gunn, 1972 and Gartner, 1994 respectively. Both authors discuss the different steps of processed information and the influences that they may have on destination image.
Assael’s (1984) definition is supported in brand image literature by Dobni and Zinkhan, (1990) who add that brand image is formed via consumers reasoning and emotional understanding, which is linked to both the stimulus factors of the product along with the personal characteristics of the consumer. These authors demonstrate the influence of not only processing the external stimuli but also the influence that the personal factors (internal) may have on the meaning of image. Many authors refer to the individual’s image such as Coshall (2000, p. 85) who defines destination image as “the individual’s perceptions of the characteristics of destinations” whereas Sonmez and Sirakaya (2002, p. 85) refer to “a mental conception held in common by members of a group and symbolic of a basic attitude and orientation. This is supported by Jenkins (1999, p. 2) who states in her article that, “it is important to understand those aspects of image that are held in common with other members of a particular group. This understanding affords the segmentation of markets and facilities the formulation of marketing strategies”. It could be argued however that image is unique; each person has their own memories, imagination and associations of a particular place (Jenkins & McArthur, 1996) especially if the consensus is that image derives from the way we perceive, i.e. our perception process, personal characteristics and our connection with the environment of where the perception takes place.
To conclude, while the literature has shown an evolution of definitions, the concept of having a generic definition for destination image is arguably unrealistic. The confusion of terminology which is highly subjective will inevitably create different meanings for different segments. The majority of authors today create or adapt their definition to the subjects and/or objects that they are examining, whether it be the image, perception or attitude construct or destination awareness or destination choice. The objective of this research is to arrive at an understanding of how an ethical destination image is formed and its influence on holiday choice. Therefore this work will explore the influence of ethics to image constructs as given in the literature which is composed of the cognitive, affective, global and conative aspects of tourist destination image.

The Role of Image in Destination Marketing

Researching tourist destination image, its academic theories and framework solutions, is useful for the future conceptual development of the tourism discipline. However the purpose of field research is to enable strategic and tactical decisions to be made at the industry level. Ryan (1995) points out that by studying holidaymakers’ perceptions, attitudes and expectations, goals may be set, determining final satisfaction to the visitor. Its operational contribution is highlighted by Tasci et al., (2007) who underscore the benefits of increased market share, improved use of capital as well as human resources and positive perception. The importance of researching this domain is supported throughout the literature (see Chon’s, 1990 review) with a more recent acknowledgement from Dolnicar and Grun, (2013, p. 3) who state that the role of destination image is recognized “as one of the key building blocks of successful tourism marketing.”
In order for tourism players to compete and, perhaps more importantly, stay in the competition, it is vital that they know how to put strategic use to their targeted markets’ perception of tourist destinations and products. Tourist destination image creates tangibility and reassurance which in turn prove a form of differentiation which enables Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) to compete and position themselves via image (Guthrie & Gale, 1991; Pike & Ryan, 2004). This is supported by Beerli and Martin (2004) who believe that competition and change within the industry along with changes in tourists’ expectations and motivations suggests that destinations should be strategically managed.
With access to global communication via satellite television and the internet, information regarding tourist destinations is readily available. Tourists are becoming better educated and informed which creates a knock-on effect regarding choice and new opportunities for unique experiences (Mohsin, 2005). Hong-Bumm (1998, p. 341) adds, “destination choice is influenced by the individual’s perception of alternative possibilities and the feasibility of these perceptions.” Image therefore assists in differentiating one destination from another and is considered to influence the integral process of the individual’s decision (Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997), sustaining a stronger influence than socio-demographic and behaviour factors (Lee et al., 2006).

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The Hierarchical Relationship between Components

There is a general consensus that theoretically the cognitive component of destination image formation is an antecedent of the affective component (Gartner, 1994; Baloglu & McClearly, 1999; Vogt & Andereck, 2003; Beerli & Martin, 2004; Ryan & Cave, 2005; Tasci et al., 2007) with the affective attachment depending on the cognitive evaluation of the object or destination (Baloglu & McClearly, 1999). However, there is the question that one component may be more influential in the global image evaluation than the other and therefore have a greater influence on the destination choice (Lin et al., 2007). This was noted by Um and Crompton (1992) who highlighted that individuals with limited knowledge may measure a destination image by the holistic or global component of the destination image construct. However, authors Beaulieu and Schieyer (1984) indicate that a destination’s image is made up of tailored attributes which contribute the deciding factor of choice. Gartner (1994) believes that although both the cognitive and affective components may be evaluated independently, there is a hierarchical relationship between the two. He explains that there is a direct relationship between the conative components and the cognitive/affective components of the image construct. The destination choice outcome will be influenced at the cognitive stage of the image construction and will in turn be evaluated at the affective stage, when the individual decides on their motives for travelling to a specific destination. The decision will also depend on whether the affective motives have been satisfied by the cognitive evaluations of the destination’s image. This will also be influenced by the information available and how the DMOs have used image as a push factor in the destination selection process. This is supported by Baloglu and McCleary (1999) who found that although the variety of information sources and the socio-psychological tourism motivations had influenced affect, it was however the perceptual/cognitive evaluations that were much stronger on the affect evaluation than the travel motivations. The authors also noted that although the overall image is generated and influenced by both the cognitive and affective components of the image construct, it was the affective component that significantly influenced the overall image; more than the cognitive and affective together.

The Destination Image Process

The discussion of how image is processed has been in Marketing and Management literature for the past 50 years. Reynolds (1965, p. 69) explained the complexity of the process in his article denoting that image is “developed by the consumer on the basis of a few selected impressions among the flood of total impressions, it comes into being through a creative process in which these selected impressions are elaborated, embellished and ordered.” Almost ten years after this statement, the importance of understanding the first stage of destination image formation was noted by Gunn (1972). This area of research continues to be an important aspect of understanding the decision making process. It enables academics and professionals from the tourism industry to have an understanding of how a destination’s image is formed, as well as establishing the factors that influence its formation. Identifying the influencing factors of destination image formation will assist in the segmentation and targeting of specific groups using marketing resources effectively (Goodall, 1990). This is supported by Brokaw (1990, p. 32) who states that “before image can be used to influence behaviour, it is important to understand what influences image.” Researchers agree that understanding the initial stages of the image formation before the holiday choice has been made is the most important part in the selection process (Gunn 1972; Mercer 1971).

Table of contents :

Chapter 1 Tourist Destination Image
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Defining Tourist Destination Image
1.2.1 Terminology used in destination image
1.2.2 Factors influencing the meaning of destination image
1.3 The role of image in destination marketing
1.4 Tourist destination image formation
1.4.1 The components of destination image
1.4.2 The hierarchical relationship between components
1.4.3 The Destination Image Process
1.4.4 Influencing factors on destination image
1.5 Summary of Tourist Destination Image
Chapter 2 Ethics and the Tourism Industry
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Defining Ethics and its Terminology
2.3 Principal Ethical Theories
2.3.1 Teleology
2.3.2 Deontology
2.3.3 Existentialism
2.4 The Role of Ethics on Consumer Behaviour
2.4.1 Ethical consumption and the ethical consumer
2.4.2 Ethical decision-making in consumer behavior
2.4.3 Factors influencing ethical consumption
2.4.4 Principal research areas in ethical consumption
2.5 Evolution of Ethical Tourism
2.5.1 Ethical Tourism
2.5.2 Codes and conducts in Ethical Tourism
2.6 Evolution of the Ethical Tourist
2.6.1 Youth and Student Travel Market
2.7 Summary of Ethics and the Tourism Industry
2.7.1 Model of Tourist Destination Image
Chapter 3 Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.1.1 Research Aim, Objectives and Questions
3.1.2 The Process and Description of the
Research Philosophy, Approach and Methods
3.2 Research Paradigms
3.3 Qualitative Methodology in the Research Process
3.4 Qualitative Methods in the Research Process
3.4.1 Focus Groups
3.4.2 Projective Techniques
3.4.3 Using Collage as a Projective Technique
3.5 The Research Context – Setting the Scene
3.5.1 Recruitment Sample
3.5.2 The Focus Group and Collage Creation Process
3.5.3 Role of the Researcher in the Data Collection Process
3.6 Data Saturation
3.7 Transcription of Data
3.8 Data Analysis – Coding
3.9 Thematic Analysis
3.10 Creating Trustworthiness in Qualitative Research
3.11 Ethical Considerations
3.12 Limitations of the Research
3.13 Summary of Methodology chapter
Chapter 4 Analysis and Interpretation of Findings
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Global Discussion and Summary of Focus Group Open Questions
4.2.1 How would you define ethics?
4.2.2 How would you define and Ethical Tourist Destination?
4.2.3 How can the Tourism Industry use CSR?
4.2.4 Who is responsible for the destination’s image?
4.2.5 What factors influence a Tourist Destination’s Image?
4.3 Global Discussion of Collage Constructions
4.3.1 Themes and Sub-themes from visual collages
4.3.2 Social Dimensions of an Ethical Tourist Destination Image
4.3.3 Environmental Dimensions of an Ethical Tourist Destination Image
4.3.4 Political Dimensions of an Ethical Tourist Destination Image
4.3.5 Economic Dimensions of an Ethical Tourist Destination Image
4.3.6 Conclusion & Discussion of Global collage results
4.4 Individual Group Analysis and Interpretation of Open Questions
4.4.1 Defining Ethics
4.4.2 Defining and Ethical Tourist Destination
4.4.3 Examples of Ethical Destinations
4.4.4 Who is responsible for the Tourist Destination’s Image?
4.4.5 What is the role of CSR?
4.4.6 What factors influence an Ethical Tourist Destination Image
4.5 Collage Analysis and Interpretation of Individual Groups
4.5.1 Social Theme
4.5.2 Environmental Theme
4.5.3 Political Theme
4.5.4 Economic Theme
4.6 Global Analysis and Interpretation Revisited
4.7 Cognitive, Affective and Conative Evaluations of a  Ethical Tourist Destination’s Image
4.8 Summary of Analysis & Interpretation of Findings
General Conclusion


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