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Testing an integrated destination image model across residents and tourists

Highlights
The need to confirm the applicability of an integrated destination image model to local residents
is highlighted.
The hypothesized relationships were tested using local residents and tourists in the resort city of
Eilat.
The cognitive, affective and the overall image evaluations positively affect intention to
recommend.
Among tourists, the affective component exerted a greater influence than the cognitive on
overall image and behavior.
The findings help explain how differences between the respective images of each group arise.

Abstract
Tourism research has yet to confirm whether an integrated destination image model is applicable
in predicting the overall destination image and behavioral intentions of local residents. This
study examines whether the cognitive, affective and overall image - hypothesized to be
predictors of behavioral intentions - are applicable to residents and tourists in the resort city of
Eilat. The proposed model allowed for the distinct effect of each image component on overall
image and behavior to be closely examined. The findings support the applicability of the model
to local residents and also showed that among tourists, the affective component exerted a greater
influence than the cognitive on overall destination image and future behavior. These findings
have theoretical and practical implications for research on destination image.
Study methods
3.1. Study setting
Israel's southernmost city, Eilat (population 47,500), is situated at the northern end of the Red
Sea on the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba. It is a well-known tourism destination in the Red Sea region and
is Israel's most highly developed sea, sun and sand resort. In 2011, international tourists spent
1,084,000 nights and domestic tourists spent 5,671,000 nights in Eilat (50% of all Israeli
domestic tourism nights), making it the most popular domestic tourism destination in Israel.
Currently, the city has 10,956 hotel rooms, almost one-quarter (24.6%) of the total hotel room
supply in Israel (Israel Ministry of Tourism, 2012).

Sampling
Independent samples for each group (tourists and residents) were compiled in this study.
Following Chen, Lin, and Petrick (2013), a questionnaire was personally administered to the
respondents who were approached mainly in selected public areas (i.e., shopping areas and
neighborhoods) using a random day/time/site pattern (Bonn, Joseph, & Dai, 2005). The first
sample consisted of adults (over the age of 18) who are permanent residents of Eilat. Residents
were approached in their neighborhoods or in the center of the city and asked to participate in the
study. Tourists were approached in the main tourist zone along the waterfront, where the vast
majority of Eilat's hotels, shops and restaurants are located. Numerous studies on destination
image have used a similar non-probability method for sampling tourists (e.g., Chen & Tsai,
2007; Stepchenkova & Li, 2013), mainly due to a lack of accurate data regarding the size of the
tourist population and the absence of a sampling frame (Prayag and Ryan,
2012 and Stepchenkova and Li, 2013). While the sampling procedure followed is helpful in
achieving a balanced composition of respondents, it may limit the generalizability of the findings
to other destinations, as is further discussed in the limitations section. The data were collected
between November 2012 and March 2013 using self-administered questionnaires that were
distributed by four trained research assistants. The process was closely supervised and monitored
by one of the authors. Of the 600 stakeholders approached in total, 450 agreed to participate in
the study. After discarding 10 incomplete questionnaires, the final number of usable
questionnaires was 440 (240 tourists and 200 residents of Eilat), resulting in an average response
rate of 73.3%.
3.3. Study instrument
A single questionnaire comprising three sections was developed to investigate the four latent
constructs of the proposed model, namely the cognitive, affective and overall image residents
and tourists have of Eilat as a tourist destination, and their corresponding behavioral intentions.
The first section aimed to measure the cognitive, affective and overall destination image.
Tourists' on-site image was preferred, as a direct experience with a destination results in an
organic or primary image of that destination, and researchers agree that visitors hold more
accurate or realistic images (Chon, 1991, Milman and Pizam, 1995 and Tasci, 2006), and/or
more affective responses in comparison to non-visitors, due to first-hand experience (Baloglu &
McCleary, 1999). In line with previous destination image research, a multi-item measure of the
cognitive and affective image was utilized. The multi-item scale was preferred to a single
measurement, because past research has delineated a number of destination image dimensions
and concluded that image is a complex and multifaceted concept (e.g., Beerli and Martin,
2004, Bonn et al., 2005 and Lin et al., 2007). First, a pool of attributes related to each image
dimension was developed, based on a review of the previously used items in measuring
destination image (Beerli and Martin, 2004, Chen and Tsai, 2007, Chi and Qu, 2008 and Wang
and Hsu, 2010). These items covered place attributes such as scenery, natural attractions, climate,
friendliness of the locals, nightlife, appealing cuisine, shopping and accommodation facilities,
safety and tourist activities. Given the great variety of attributes in the literature, attention was

given to universal attributes (i.e., scenery, weather, accommodation), excluding attributes that
did not fit to the context of Eilat (i.e., ski facilities). Second, the items were further revised based
on a number of discussions with residents and tourists to ensure their relevance to the locality
(Poudel, Nyaupane, & Budruk, 2016). Finally, a pilot study was conducted using a sample of
residents and tourists (see below). Overall, the list of attributes was developed with the
assumption that they best represented the core image of Eilat (see Prayag & Ryan, 2012).
Cognitive image, in particular, was measured using a multi-dimensional scale that covered 17
items measuring five dimensions of image, namely natural environment, amenities, attractions,
accessibility and social environment. Each of the five dimensions was captured using three to
four items (see Table 1). In line with past research on destination image, a 7-point Likert-type
scale was used, with responses ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree)
(e.g., Chi and Qu, 2008 and Lee, 2009). An inspection of cognitive image factor reliability
(see Table 3) revealed that in all but one case (natural environment, in the tourists' sample)
values of the Cronbach alpha exceeded the recommended benchmark of 0.6 (Peterson, 1994).
The lower reliability observed in the natural environment factor is close to the cut off of 0.50
suggested by Pedhazur and Schmelkin (1991) for factors with only a few items.

Destination image and its effects on marketing and branding a tourist destination Katharina
Sonnleitner 10 1
BACKGROUND
1.1 Problem statement
As tourism services are intangible, images become more important than reality (Govers & Go,
2007). This quote perhaps constitutes the most predicative statement building the
underlying problem of this thesis. It describes todays situation in the tourism industry
to the point, where events and trends are becoming ever more complex and fast-paced.
As tourism destination products and services cannot be tested prior to the purchase,
consumers have to build images of them and make their purchase decision based on
these images. Whether the image is an accurate portrayal of what the respective
destination is really like is thereby not so important, what really matters is the mere
existence of the image in the minds of potential consumers (Mayo, 1975, p. 15).
Images play an essential role in destination choice matters, and the ultimate goal of any
destination is to influence possible tourists travel-related decision making and choice through
marketing activities. Although not all elements contributing to the development of an image can
be controlled, tourism marketers want to strategically establish, reinforce and, if necessary,
change the image of their destination (Chi & Qu, 2008, p. 634).
Through advertising, image can become an artificially created differentiation, because it strongly
influences and forms beliefs about the offered tourism products (MacKay & Fesenmaier, 1997, p.
540). Moreover, destination image contributes to forming a destination brand and also to its
success. The starting point for developing and keeping a strong brand image is the fundamental
understanding of the tourists images of the destination and image studies are a prerequisite to an
overall successful marketing strategy. Hence, it is clear that image is strongly related to tourism
marketing issues and plays an incredibly important role for the touristic success of a destination
(Tasci and Gartner, 2007, p. 413).
Even though there is consensus about the fact that constant destination image monitoring is
crucial for a successful market positioning, some destination management and marketing offices
(DMOs) are not yet fully aware of the importance images play for them. They have to become
aware of the high significance of strategic image management, which can among others be
achieved through tactical branding activities.

Research method
In order to obtain viable results and provide new valuable information to the academic sphere
concerning the interrelationships between destination image theory and destination

marketing, the author selected literature review and in-depth expert interviews as
research methods for the compilation of this paper. Both these approaches belong to the
discipline of qualitative research methods, which stands in contrast to quantitative
techniques. In qualitative research, the collected information is not based on numbers
and consequential statistical analysis and conclusions, as it is the case with quantitative
methods (Veal, 2006, pp. 98-98).
1.3.1 Literature review
For this thesis primary as well as secondary data and material are used. First, a review of
appropriate literature provides insight into the respective research fields, which should
serve as a basis for theoretic knowledge about the papers topic. By reviewing and
critically analysing secondary literature, the researchers overall understanding of the
topic was deepened. Reading diverse articles, books and studies provided information
on the current state of knowledge in the respective domains and the whole context,
including theoretical concepts, main concerns and ideas, but also gaps in knowledge
became apparent. The gained knowledge was, if suitable, integrated into the thesis and
contributed considerably to the formulation of effective, precise and manageable
research questions (Finn, Elliott-White & Walton, 2000, pp. 234-235). The literature
provides perceptions on the potential challenges of the thesis issue, which can be used
for drawing comparisons to the practical qualitatively approached example of the tourist
destination Austria. Thus, an interplay between theoretical considerations and practical
investigations is created.Destination image and its effects on marketing and branding a
tourist destination Katharina Sonnleitner 12

1.3.2 Case study


Secondly, in order to best contribute to the body of human knowledge, a case study
wasconducted by collecting primary data. Case studies are a very suitable research
method offering comprehensiveness and profundity for understanding a particular
phenomenon. Through the examination of a specific instance, a general problem can
thereby become illuminated (Budeanu, 2007, p. 50 cited following Beeton, 2005,
n.p.a.). Additionally, case studies demonstrate a high degree of flexibility and are used
extensively in tourism research (Hudson and Ritchie, 2009, p. 222). In order to gain
insight into a DMOs practical approaches to marketing and branding in conjunction
with imagery studies, the case of the Austrian National Tourist Office was chosen to be
analysed.
To obtain the appropriate information, the conduction of expert interviews was identified as a
crucial element of the research process. The aim behind the authors decision to conduct expert
interviews was to gain primary data, to fill the gap in knowledge and to better comprehend a
DMOs practical approach in handling marketing issues. So, in addition to conducting a thorough
review of the relevant literature, the author also conducted a series of face-to-face interviews
with appropriate stakeholders, based on the beforehand gathered theoretic information. In that
way, the author wanted to identify and explore the issues and strategic challenges facing those
who market destinations in the future generally, and specifically Austria. According to Dunn
(2005, p. 80), interviews are an excellent method of gaining access to information and collecting
a diversity of opinions and experiences. The following suggestions and recommendations
outlined by Dunn (2005, pp. 79-105) were taken into consideration and provided a valuable basis
for the conduction of the interviews:
1. Select participants:
In total, four informants, who were chosen purposefully on the basis of their considerable
knowledge about destination marketing, participated as experts in this study. In detail, Ms. Teresa
Lastuvka, Ms. Marion Michenthaler, Mr. Michael Scheuch and Mr. Michael Tauschmann, who
all work for different departments of the ANTO in Vienna and Stockholm, were approached. One
person provided useful material about several relevant ANTO market research findings, the other
three agreed to give an appointment for a face-to-face interview, or to answer the questionnaire
by e-mail, respectively. The researcher had the possibility to gain an insight into the topic of
destination branding by sending questions to Mr. Michael Scheuch, who is employed as division
manager for brand management in the ANTO in Vienna. Furthermore, Ms. Marion Michenthaler,
ANTO responsible for market studies, could also be gained as interview partner for this Master
thesis. Finally, a personal meeting with Mr. Michael Tauschmann, the manager for the Swedish
market, working in the ANTO office situated in Stockholm, could be arranged and allowed for
deeper insights into the marketing activities in the Swedish market. All three interviews were
conducted in the authors and respondents mother tongue German for reasons of better fluency.
Transcriptions of the original German versions of the interviews, as well as translated English
versions can be found in the attached appendix of this paper.
DESTINATION MARKETING

Throughout the literature review in preparation for this thesis, the notion that destination image
and destination marketing stand in a close interrelationship to each other has appeared in nearly
all articles and works studied. Only during the last three decades the marketing of places has
received increased interest and the field has accordingly become more sophisticated. This
development is to some extent due to globalisation and the ever increasing number of
international transactions, which obviously have an impact on the competitiveness of places
(Baker and Cameron, 2007, p. 79). After the previous chapter on destination image, the purpose
of this section is to give an insight into the field of destination marketing, including a focus on
branding.