by Kastenholz, Elisabeth, Ph.D., Universidade de Aveiro (Portugal), 2002, 438 pages; AAT 3074014
The present research work studies the concept, assessment, structure and role of destination image in the context of tourism in rural areas. The perspective is one of marketing, specifically consumer behavior, focusing on tourists' perceptions and evaluations made of the visited rural areas in North Portugal.
A literature review helps understand the particularity of tourism , especially rural tourism , and reflects on the corresponding nature of destination marketing . Also the construct image is discussed. This is based on a literature review of diverse scientific approaches. The discussion of destination image in tourism and leisure research includes definitions, image assessment, image structure and formation, impacts of image on tourist behavior and its role in destination marketing.
Based on this background discussion, a series of hypotheses are advanced. These are tested in the empirical part of the thesis using data obtained from a undertaken in North Portugal. The survey yielded 2280 valid responses, which contained data on socio-demographics, travel behavior, motivations, destination perceptions, evaluations and probable future travel behavior.
In addition to describing the content of destination image, its structure is analyzed, with affective, cognitive, imagery and holistic components considered as image elements. Affective and cognitive components are identified via Principal Components Analysis . Relationships between components are presented in a path-analytical model ranging from cognitive over affective towards holistic destination image. Destination-self-congruity is analyzed as an affective component of destination image as well as the moderating role of psycho-graphic traveler type .
A series of tourist, travel-context and destination-specific variables are further analyzed as eventual (co-)determinants of these destination images. For this purpose, non-parametric tests are undertaken, considering simultaneously first-order interaction. An approximate rank order of importance is established and also single effects of independent variables on particular image dimensions are discussed.
Finally, the relationship between destination image and probable future travel behavior is analyzed and a positive correlation confirmed, particularly in the context of recommendation of the destination.
From these results, which are compared to those obtained in other destination image studies, a series of implications on destination marketing are suggested, as well as recommendations for future destination image research advanced.