Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Destination Branding through Experience and Authenticity

Academic journal article Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends

Destination Branding through Experience and Authenticity

Article excerpt


Although marketers introduced the concept in the late 1980s, destination branding is a relatively new development. It combines marketing products and services and the commoditization of people's culture and environment. Research regarding destination brand measurement indicates that conceptualizing how tourists evaluate a destination brand appears to be complex (Boo, Busser, & Baloglu, 2009). The complexity of this issue requires a particular focused effort by tourism researchers since it comprehends "a multiplicity of concerns needing a multidisciplinary response" (Gnoth, 1998). Branding a country is not the same thing as promoting tourism. The promotion of tourism occupies more common ground with nation-branding than any other aspect of a country's external affairs, but it is merely a part of the whole (Anholt, 2005, 2009).

Basically, a country brand could be described as the total sum of all perceptions about a country or a nation in the mind of international stakeholders (Fan, 2006). Country branding relates to concepts like place or destination branding and country of origin effect (Kotler et al., 1994), public diplomacy (van Ham, 2001) or national identity (Smith, 1991). Actually, country branding comprises all the above. A country brand may become umbrella brand, ingredient brand or co-brand, intended to endorse certain economic sectors of a country (Dinnie, 2007), including tourism. In a more complex approach, country branding is influenced by the country's image, reputation and positioning--if the case (Gilmore, 2002), country branding being in some cases similar to corporate branding, implying the usage of similar branding techniques.

Destination branding is defined as "selecting a consistent element mix to identify and distinguish [a destination] through positive image-building" (Cai 2002; Govers and Go, 2009) and has been considered synonymous with (re)positioning (Gilmore, 2002), image building (Greenberg, 2008; Lewis-Cameron & Roberts, 2010) and image reconstruction of a destination (Hall & Mitchell, 2002). Ritchie and Ritchie (1998) describe tourism destination brand as an association of name, symbol, logo etc. that both identifies and differentiates the destination; furthermore, it conveys the promise of a memorable travel experience that is uniquely associated with the destination; it also serves to considerate and reinforce the recollection of pleasurable memories of destination experience.

It is important to understand that different places attract different tourists (Kotler & Gertner, 2002). For tourism to be successful, a country must be very specific about what it wants to market and to whom. The tourism market can be segmented by the attractions that tourists seek (such as natural beauty, sun, adventure, gaming, events/sports or culture/history) or by areas, regions or locations, by seasons, by customer's characteristics or by benefits the sources of information and the way that information is distributed contribute to the formation of the image of a certain destination, (historical and cultural attractions, nightlife and entertainment, people's friendliness and their way of life, opportunities for recreation, activities and adventure) (Morgan, Pritchard, Pride,

2007). This information should be included in all the communication strategies and instruments used.

Tourism, in addition to being big business, is a strategy for framing and interpreting cultural difference (Harkin, 1995). The anthropological approach to tourism brings important contributions, especially through a neo-traditional approach that includes the basic ethnography and its national character variant, as well as the acculturation model and the awareness that tourism is an important element in culture exchange. Simultaneously the anthropological study of tourism does provide us with information that can help us become better tourists, and that there is the potential for even greater guidance as the field develops and as we continue to expand upon our interests. …

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