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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 31, Issue 3, July 2004, Pages 657–681
The aim of this paper is to develop and empirically validate a model which explains the different factors which form the post-visit image of a destination. Based on a literature review, this will involve analyzing the relationship between the different components of the perceived image and the factors which influence its formation. These include both sources of information (primary and secondary) and stimuli influencing the forming of perceptions and evaluations of destinations pre- and post-visit, respectively, and motivation, accumulated touristic experiences and sociodemographic characteristics.
The evaluation and analysis of destination image has been the subject of much attention in related academic literature, and has made a significant contribution to a greater understanding of tourist behavior. Hunt (1975) was among the first to demonstrate its importance in increasing the number of tourists visiting destinations. Today there exists a general consensus about the significance of the role played by image in the process of decision making, and, by extension, choice (Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a, Chen and Kerstetter, 1999, Goodrich, 1978, Hunt, 1975, Milman and Pizan, 1995, Pearce, 1982 and Woodside and Lysonsky, 1989). However, despite this increasing interest in destination image, many agree that the majority of studies carried out to date are insufficiently theory-based, resulting in a lack of framework or solid conceptualization. Many studies frequently use the term “destination image”, but they tend not to conceptualize this term precisely. Various authors point out that while the concept is widely used in the empirical context, it is loosely defined and lacks a solid conceptual structure (Fakeye and Crompton, 1991 and Mazanec and Schweiger, 1981). The study by Gallarza, Gil Saura and Calderón Garcia (2002) featured an exhaustive review of the literature dealing with this concept, proposing a theoretical model defining image in terms of four characteristics: complex, multiple, relativistic, and dynamic. The most recent studies (Baloglu and Brinberg, 1997, Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a, Baloglu and McCleary, 1999b, Gartner, 1993 and Walmsley and Young, 1998) tend to consider image as a concept formed by the consumer’s reasoned and emotional interpretation as the consequence of two closely interrelated components: perceptive/cognitive evaluations referring to the individual’s own knowledge and beliefs about the object (an evaluation of the perceived attributes of the object), and affective appraisals relating to an individual’s feelings towards the object. From a theoretical point of view, there is general agreement that the cognitive component is an antecedent of the affective component and that the evaluative responses of consumers stem from their knowledge of the objects (Anand, Holbrook and Stephens, 1988, Holbrook, 1978, Russel and Pratt, 1980 and Stern and Krakover, 1993). In addition, the combination of these two factors produces an overall, or compound, image relating to the positive, or negative, evaluation of the product or brand. In the context of tourism, Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a and Baloglu and McCleary, 1999b and Stern and Krakover (1993) show empirically that these perceptual/cognitive and affective evaluations have a direct influence on the overall image, and also that the former, through the latter, has an indirect influence on that image. Related professional and academic papers have proposed a number of scales to determine the different attributes relevant to measuring perceived image. An analysis of the principal scales (Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a, Baloglu and McCleary, 1999b, Calantone, Di Benetton, Hakam and Bojanic, 1989, Chon, Weaver and Kim, 1991, Echtner and Ritchie, 1993, Fakeye and Crompton, 1991, Gartner, 1989, Gartner and Hunt, 1987, Gartner and Shen, 1992, Goodrich, 1978, Hu and Ritchie, 1993, Hunt, 1975, Phelps, 1986 and Walmsley and Jenkins, 1993) reveals a lack of homogeneity with respect to the attributes which define an individual’s perceptions. Similarly, it is evident that most studies have failed to establish the validity and reliability of the scales, casting doubt on their psychometric properties. Indeed, only three of the reviewed works, namely that of Echtner and Ritchie (1993) and those of Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a and Baloglu and McCleary, 1999b, had effectively determined the reliability of the scales used. This lack of a universally accepted, valid, and reliable scale for the measurement of image led to the proposal of a frame incorporating every aspect of a destination which could potentially be used as an instrument of measurement. To that end, and following a review of the attractions and attributes included in the existing scales, all factors influencing the image assessments made by individuals were incorporated and classified into nine dimensions (Table 1). The selection of the attributes used in designing a scale will depend largely on the attractions of each destination, on its positioning, and on the objectives of the assessment of perceived image, which will also determine whether specific or more general attributes are chosen. This research focuses on the process of destination image formation, one of the least studied areas in this field of research. As Baloglu and McCleary, 1999a and Mackay and Fesenmaier, 1997 point out, there have been very few empirical studies aimed at analyzing which forces influence an individual’s image of a given destination, and there is a little research into those which influence the formation and the structure of this image. In the absence of existing empirical evidence analyzing the determinants of a destination’s perceived post-visit image, this work proposes an empirical study aimed at developing and validating a model for defining such factors. To this end, and based on the limited literature base, the starting point of this work is a conceptual model (Figure 1), to be validated using path models. The model was developed in a way that differentiates between first-time and repeat tourists for several reasons. One, certain differences may exist between the image perceived by each group of individuals that have an effect on the results. Two, the relationship between secondary information sources and perceived image can only be analyzed in the case of first-timers since repeat tourists could have difficulty recalling the sources of information used before visiting the place for the first time. Three, there may be differences between the two groups in terms of their level of knowledge of the destination and in their motivations, depending on whether they had previously visited the place or not. Four, it enabled a validation of the proposed model to be made using two independent samples.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
From an academic point of view, this work has attempted to provide a conceptual framework that permits continued advances in the development of the subject of destination image in order to allow a greater understanding of the image-formation process in individuals’ minds. Along these lines, this paper responds to the need expressed by various authors both to study in greater depth the forces that influence the formation of image (given the limited empirical evidence covering this phenomena) and to help fill the gap which exists in academic literature on the factors that influence the structure and formation of this image. With that end in mind, different path models were developed and empirically validated in an attempt to provide greater knowledge of the forces or factors that determine the formation of the post-visit image. More specifically, the influence of the following factors were studied: secondary and primary information sources, motivations, experience of leisure travel, and sociodemo graphic characteristics related to gender, age, level of education, social class, and country of origin. From a practical point of view, the overall understanding of the process of image formation and the intensity of the relationship between the factors influencing the shaping of the image and that of the destination itself will help the public institutions responsible for sales management to project a suitable image of their markets by means of the best choice of communication mix. With reference to the secondary information sources, one, it should be emphasized that the induced sources related to brochures provided by the destination’s public authorities, tour-operators’ brochures, advertising campaigns, and the Internet had no significant influence on the different factors of the cognitive first-time image. On the other hand, travel agency staff proved to be the only induced source which displayed a positive and statistically significant influence on the cognitive factor of sun and sand resources. This indicates that those responsible for promoting such resources must develop a relationship with this distribution channel and ensure that the messages transmitted coincide with the desired image of the place. Two, the organic and autonomous sources significantly influence some of the factors determining the cognitive image of the destination, with autonomous sources, mainly guidebooks, being the most relevant. Since the messages transmitted by autonomous sources are difficult to control, it is important for the destinations to collaborate more directly with the media and to keep track of the image which is being broadcast. Furthermore, the fact that word of mouth is considered to be the most believable and truthful communication channel, together with the fact that it also significantly influences the cognitive image, means that it is important that the messages transmitted in the markets of origin match the reality of the destination. In this context, the development of the image must be based on reality, otherwise the destination will not succeed in satisfying the tourists, which will in turn have a negative effect on the image that they will transmit by word of mouth. The influence of primary sources among first-time tourists becomes clear in the relationship between the number of visits made to places of interest in the destination and the cognitive dimension of image of natural and cultural resources. It is thus of primary importance that resorts carry out campaigns to make tourists aware of the places of interest and so increase their visits. This relationship is maintained in the case of repeaters, for whom the number of past visits also exerts a significant, but in this case negative, influence on the cognitive dimension of social and natural environment. Therefore, the more a tourist repeats a visit to this destination, the worse the assessment of the aspects of that dimension is, due to the excessive increase in tourist infrastructures and illegal immigration. In addition, it is apparent from the results of the empirical research that motivations influence the affective component of image. These results are consistent with the findings of Baloglu and McCleary (1999a) and suggest that, when there is congruence between motivations and the place offer, the affective image is positively influenced. In this paper, it becomes apparent that, in the case of a destination in a competitive position regarding “sun and sand”, the motivations favorably affecting first-time tourists’ affective image are related to “relaxation” and to a lesser extent with “knowledge”. Therefore, it is essential for destinations in a similar position to be directed towards those market segments whose motivations are linked to the utilitarian function of rest, relaxation, stress relief, and escape from daily routine. For repeaters, who in this case comprised some 43.2% of the total, only the motives linked to knowledge negatively influenced the affective dimension, possibly because the island of Lanzarote is small, both in terms of size and offer, and as such is unable to satisfy that need. Therefore, in destinations with these characteristics, but with high levels of customer loyalty, it would seem advisable to make an effort to vary the offer of attractions. The level of experience has a positive and significant relationship with the cognitive dimension among first-timers and with the affective dimension among repeaters. This leads to the conclusion that the experience accumulated by traveling results in tourists being more tolerant when assessing the destination because they know other realities of tourism that serve as points of comparison. Since no other empirical evidence was found to confirm this hypothesis, it would be advisable to make a detailed study of this variable, which could be of great use as a criterion for market segmentation and selection. Finally, a significant, albeit moderate, relationship was found between the affective and cognitive components of image and the sociodemographic characteristics related to gender, age, level of education, and social class, since statistically significant differences were observed with respect to certain factors that explained the image. On the other hand, the country of origin is the sociodemographic characteristic which exerts the greatest influence on the cognitive and affective components, both in the case of first-time and repeat tourists. Therefore, it is desirable to follow different communication strategies depending on the tourists’ country of origin. These results are in line with those of most empirical works that have analyzed, by means of the countries of origin, the differences in perceived image depending on cultural factors. However, it should be emphasized that nationalities must not be considered synonymous with societies, which develop their own forms of social organization, and that the concept of culture refers more to societies than to states or countries of origin. Therefore, given the absence of evidence in this line of research, it would be advisable to carry out an in-depth study of the influence of cultural values on the perceived image. Although strict scientific criteria were adhered to throughout this research work, it clearly has its limitations, from both the conceptual and methodological perspectives. From a conceptual point of view, the research is limited to the context of its own objectives. While the study attempts to develop and validate several of the factors which influence perceived image, other factors which are known to exist and which affect the image forming process (such as several other psychographic variables, such as values, life styles) were not included in the research. The use of a questionnaire as an information-gathering instrument also entails some limitations regarding the number of variables and scales to be included if the resulting questionnaire is to avoid being discouragingly long. Therefore, it would be interesting to undertake further research that includes those types of variables in order to study their influence on the formation of image. From a methodological perspective, this study, like all empirical research work, has certain limitations which affect the evaluation and generalization of its results. First, its transversal nature made it impossible to measure the pre-visit image of the destination, which would have made it feasible to measure the extent to which secondary information sources influence the formation of the pre-visit image and the way in which primary information sources could alter this image. Therefore, it would seem desirable to carry out longitudinal studies that deal with the process of the formation and changes in the image. Second, and with respect to the transversal design of this research, the causal relationships revealed in the study should be interpreted with caution, since the design does not allow for rigid compliance with the conditions for causality, and it is thus impossible to absolutely confirm that changes in the cause mean changes in the effect. In many structural models, causality must be understood in terms of statistical association and not under the conditions of an experimental design. However, this work has attempted to establish causal relationships theoretically substantiated by the theoretical foundations set out in this paper. It was also taken into account that structural equation models involve linearity in the causal relationships, which means a further limitation in cases where such relationships are not lineal. Finally, the generalization of the results is yet another limitation, since the area of research only permits the results to be generalized for the sample population and the destination of Lanzarote, making it advisable both to replicate this research in other settings and to analyze the factors that influence the perceived image in other destinations.