Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Major Sports Events, Destination Image and Intention to Revisit from the Foreign Tourist's Perspective

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Major Sports Events, Destination Image and Intention to Revisit from the Foreign Tourist's Perspective

Article excerpt

Executive summary

Major sporting events are increasingly employed by cities as an imaging tool, as they can draw large audiences from home and abroad and generate world-wide television exposure. Literature shows that empirical studies focus on the image impact of events on a host city, by focusing on potential tourists, spectators or participants. Few have looked at the impact on tourists in general (i.e. non-sports tourists). The image impact on general tourists is an important indicator of a sport event's economic impact, as the purpose of image enhancement through major sporting events is to "build visitation at other times of the year" (Chalip et al, 2003). Accordingly, taking Shanghai as an example and based on a survey study, this research explores the impact of an overall major sports event initiative on a host city's image and on the intention to revisit, from the perspective of general foreign tourists. The study shows that, taken as a whole, Shanghai has been relatively successful in reaching out to tourists by hosting major sporting events. The study confirms that all image factors are predictive of the intention to revisit the destination. However, the results question the use of major sports events as imaging tools in destination marketing to general tourists. The awareness of sports events would negatively influence atmosphere and service image of the destination, as well as the image as overall tourist destination. The results suggest that city marketers should segment sports tourists from general tourists, and employ differentiated marketing strategies.

Introduction

Sports events (especially mega-sporting events) have increasingly been employed by cities as an imaging tool as they can draw large audiences from home and abroad and generate world-wide television exposure (Liu & Gratton, 2010). Smith (2006) observed that the strategic use of events by cities has intensified in recent years. Communities believe that the use of Sports events as marketing tools will contribute to the future success of the destination by creating awareness, enhancing image, and generating future inbound travel (Dimanche et al, 2007).

Scholars have mainly studied the image impact on an event host city by focusing on potential tourists, spectators or participants. Few have looked at the impact on tourists in general (i.e. non-sport tourists). This is somewhat surprising and frustrating given that the purpose of image enhancement through sports events is to 'build visitation at other times of the year' (Chalip et al, 2003). The image impact on general tourists is an important indicator of economic impact of sports events.

Moreover, existing literature focuses on image impact of specific sports events, rather than on the overall sports events initiative of a city; although Smith's research (2005) of three English cities is an exception. The study of image impact of an overall sports events initiative is important because 'a single event--even one with a high profile--has only a passing effect on the destination brand' (Ritchie & Smith, 1991; Chalip & Costa 2005). Accordingly, this research is devoted to exploring the impact of an overall major sports events initiative on the city image, from the perspective of international tourists, of the city of Shanghai.

Literature review

Place marketing has become commonplace throughout Europe, North America and elsewhere (Gibson & Davidson, 2004). Competition between cities to create a positive image to attract important stakeholders, including consumers, investors and tourists, is becoming increasingly intense (Liu & Gratton, 2010). The influence of image on destination choice process has been studied by various authors (Chi & Qu, 2008) and it is widely acknowledged that the image of cities can influence perceptions, choice, behaviour and satisfaction of customers, investors or visitors (e.g. Castro et al, 2007; Jenkins, 1999; Milman & Pizam, 1995; Echtner & Ritchie, 1991). …

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