Tourist destinations are currently pursuing more distinction in an increasingly competitive market, within which image is a decisive element in tourists’ destination selection. This research studies the impact of media channels, such as television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and magazines on the destination image and how it is delivered differently from one media platform to another.
The rapid growth and versatility of the tourism industry during the last five decades, but also its fragility, has spawned a number of obstacles and opportunities in tourism marketing for tourist destinations and venues. (Echtner & Ritchie, 2003; Khodadadi, M.2013).
It is not a simple fact to overlook that the recent spur in tourism can be related to the media. Information and data are accessed using it and an education regarding the plethora of interesting attractions found around the globe. ( UKEssays, 2018)
According to the United Nations Tourism Organization (UNTO), the media plays an immensely significant role in putting tourist destinations on the rise in Eastern Europe and Central Asia onto the global tourist itinerary, thus helping to develop local economies. (UNNews, 2007).
Mass media plays a significant role in “shaping the individual and collective consciousness by organizing and circulating the knowledge which people have of their own every-day life and of the more remote contexts of their lives”(Adoni & Mane, 1984, p. 325). The media, particularly the news, and due to their high reliability and market penetration, may be the only image-formation representative capable of radically changing an area’s image in a short period of time (Gartner, 1994). “It is well recognized that people receive information about tourist destinations through a huge variety of media, gain knowledge about these areas and construct their images, which then form the basis of their destination choices (Mercille, 2005)”. (Khodadadi, M.2013).
Tasci and Gartner (2007) suggest that the media tends to be more instrumental to image formation since, as aforementioned, their credibility and reliability are relatively higher when reaching mass audiences, in comparison to the destination-originated information. News channels have the capability to create general knowledge about a destination, and are out of a destination’s immediate control. The authors also argue that, “organic information sources and especially news media tend to have an even greater impact when they portray a dramatic event occurring at a destination, including human caused disasters such as political upheaval, riots, terrorism, insurgency, crime, war, and natural disasters” (Tasci & Gartner, 2007). However, even though the significance of media in the creation and development of destination images, this perception has not been thoroughly examined in the field of tourism research. . (Khodadadi. M. 2013).
Image, as a factor in the traveling decision process, has been broadly examined. People hold differing perceptions of different places, which, once evaluated, become a main piece contributing to site selection. “Several studies have demonstrated that destination images have considerable influence on tourist choice and behavior” (Chon, 1991; Chen & Tsai, 2007; Pearce, 1982). According to Jenkins (1999) and Fakeye & Crompton (1991), defining the term “tourist destination image” while aiming for accuracy may pose as a challenging affair. Jenkins (1999) proposes that the most commonplace definition is the one proposed Crompton (1979, p. 18), “The sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has of a destination”. . (Khodadadi. M. 2013).
Taking this definition into account within the tourism industry, there are different factors that affect the potential tourist to make his or her decision to travel. In order for the tourist to reach such a verdict, a basic need must be present; a need to travel. As soon as the decision is made to fulfill that need, there will be a need for information on different destinations. Then, the decision maker would look at the different options that he or she has, compare and contrast those options, before they actually decide where they want to go. “In this process, people make use of different information systems that influence their final decision”. (Kotzé, F.C. 2005)
According to Ahmed (1991), destination marketers spend great efforts to institute positive images for their locations. This is because of the high level of competition among destinations, especially with the development of media channels nowadays. A destination’s image is extremely important because it majorly influences a tourist’s decision-making process. This process is typically influenced by the tourist’s needs and wants, previous holidays, recommendations, available funds, among others (Lamb et al., 2002). “What a tourist thinks about a destination’s image is strategically more important than what a marketer knows about the destination. The key to creating a successful image is convincing tourists to view a destination in the manner intended by the destination’s marketers” (Ahmed, 1991; Kotzé, F.C. 2005)
The authors (Gartner et al., 1992) examined that media has a positive influence on destination image formation when the stories presented by the channels introduce or describe a particular place. They stated that the media’s influence would be enhanced when a receiver of the media message had uncertain or insufficient knowledge and information about the destination in question. Earlier studies also found the negative outcome of bad publicity on the destination images, as well as tourist visits to the destinations previously communicated via the media. (Park, J. 2015).
Baloglu and McCleary (1999) described that the relatively negative image that Egypt holds among Americans had formed because of the news coverage about terrorism in the country. Similarly, Peel and Steen (2007) discovered the negative impact on specific destinations. For example, the effect of news coverage about national crime rates on Australia’s image.
Furthermore, the authors found the sharp impacts of media coverage for crisis and natural disaster situations such as the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia (Henderson, 2007) or terrorist attacks in Bali (Hitchcock & Putra, 2005; Park, J. 2015).
These studies explicitly indicated the significant role of media in the formation of tourism destination image, and suggested that media relations in the tourism industry should be well-applied to avoid potential negative or undesirable images. (Park, J. 2015).
The sources of information relative to tourist activities have changed significantly over the past fifteen years. This is primarily due to the impact of contemporary technology. Second, it is due to the change in tourist consumer behavior, and thirdly due to the rise in the number of tourist destinations. Lastly, this change is due to the growing level of competition between different destinations globally. (Molina, A. Gómez, M. & Consuegra, D. 2010).
“The image a tourist may have of a destination can be quite personal, as it depends on each tourist’s individual perceptions of the place” (Bigné et al., 2001; Gallarza, Saura, & Garcı́a, 2002; San Martín & Del Bosque, 2008). The opinions of tourists worldwide are highly personal and subjective in nature, that is because they can base their views of the same destination on varying experiences, which in turn depend on their personal thoughts and emotions. This has caused many researchers to investigate the mechanisms of a tourism destination image, generally elaborating on the cognitive and affective components. In the minds of tourists, whilst the cognitive image represents the tourists’ knowledge and beliefs of a particular destination, the affective image signifies their emotional responses towards it (Gartner, 1993; Beerli & Martín, 2004; Pike & Ryan, 2004; Royo-Vela, 2009; San Martín & Del Bosque, 2008, San Martín Gutiérrez, & Rodríguez del Bosque, 2011; Smith, Li, Pan, Witte, & Doherty, 2015).
When the cognitive and affective images are combined, the overall destination image is created (Baloglu & McCleary, 1999), which is comprised of personal characteristics of the destination, and integrates both tangible and intangible elements. (Alcocer, N. & Luiz, V. 2019)