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The connection between image, symbolism, tourist expectations and satisfaction

Al-Khayat, Anaam


Anaam Al-Khayat


Tourism makes a major contribution to most economies particularly developing economies. In developing countries, tourism is important as a means of earning hard currencies and creating employment. Therefore the means of stimulating tourism and promoting potential destinations is worthy of investigation. In this thesis the focus is on investigating the use of images of nations' culture and heritage to promote those destinations in the developing world to affluent western tourists.
An extensive literature review is undertaken in the thesis to demonstrate and understand the relationship between place and its portrayal to give expectations in the minds of tourists. There are many means of portraying the images, notably television, the Internet and paper based brochures which are the subject of this thesis. This review led to the construction of the hypothesis that if images are realistic depictions of place then expectations will be closer to experience. If this gap is small then it is further hypothesised that satisfaction will result. To explore and test this hypothesis a positivist research approach is pursued. The research method used is principally that of case studies in which three countries (Egypt, India and Turkey) are taken as representative of developing/emerging nations. First, the use of images to promote travel to these countries is tested by conducting a content analysis of "quality broadsheet" newspapers. Then a questionnaire based survey is undertaken to understand how people from affluent backgrounds perceive samples of images emphasising culture and heritage and how they identify the images with place. Next, samples of first time tourists to Egypt, India and Turkey are surveyed before experiencing the destination and again after visiting the destination. Then to add depth, samples of the tourists surveyed were interviewed and invited to discuss their experiences.
The findings of the content analysis resulted in evidence to support the premise that images of culture and heritage are used to promote destinations to affluent potential tourists. From the first survey, results showed that on the whole potential tourists correctly associated images with the destination. Further, it was found that images judged to be realistic, raised expectations in the minds of potential tourists. Then from the pre and post visit survey, factor analysis was used to create measures of expectations of place and measures of experience of place. The gap between the measures of experience and expectation was then computed and found to be negatively correlated with satisfaction. The in depth interviews gave similar findings to the quantitative analysis and by triangulation helped to validate the research.
Thus the hypothesis that accurate representation of place based on culture and heritage imagery leads to expectations which are close to experience is accepted. Further, it was found that if the expectation/experience gap is small then satisfaction is likely to result. These findings give valuable tools, whether company based or in national development agencies, to ensure that the accuracy of portrayal of cultural images to promote destinations to affluent consumers and thus ensuring satisfaction is more likely, which in turn results in an increase in the potential for return visits.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 14, 2013
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Tourism; developing countries; images; tourist expectations; place;
Public URL
Contract Date Nov 14, 2013
Award Date 2009-04


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