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Article Published In Vol.4 (Sept-Oct-2016)

A Perspective of the Image in Destination Tourism Regions: An Exploratory Approach in Arouca

Author : Sara Vasconcelos and Bruno Sousa

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The process of globalization and increasing competitiveness in domestic and international markets has put pressure, and continues to do it, on tourist destinations, leading them to adopt territorial marketing practices. From the point of view of strategic management, the establishment of place brands emerges as a powerful tool, since it gives the destination an identity and, especially, an image, differentiating it from its competitors and making it appealing, which will attract visitors. Place branding precisely seeks to develop strategies involving the diffusion and consequent perception of a strong and positive image of the destination. Arouca is a rural region that still possesses many areas in depression, but has grown considerably in the tourism sector. In the last years the county was able to revive the economy by increasing the number of tourists, a result of its natural resources and efforts on the part of public authorities, which allowed the development of Nature Tourism in the region. Through the selected methodology, we will examine Arouca’s image as perceived by the tourists, and by trying to study the focus of the investigation, it can be created a guide for practical applications in the strategic management of the municipality. The primary objective of this study is to understand the influence that the image exert in each of the phases of the tourist buying behavior. Hence, we studied the relationship between the image and purchase intentions in both the destination of choice phase and the post-purchase behavior, and between image and evaluative perceptions, the result of the experience in the destination. The results of the empirical analysis show that a place’s image is an antecedent of purchase, perceived quality, satisfaction and intent to return and recommend, demonstrating that this is a crucial factor in the management of place marketing.

Keywords: Territorial marketing, territorial brand, destination image, tourist buying behavior, Arouca

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