Introduction and Background of the Study
Quality" as a term and as a practice is both crucial and important for long term success and for survival in tourism industry, and with the passage of time, it has become the decisive competitive instrument in tourism. According to 'Evaluating the Quality Performance of Tourist Destinations and Services' (2003) quality should be treated as a continuous process to ensure the constant improvement in quality of a tourist destination as a whole or of the individual attractions and services within it.
With the help of Quality Management, several efforts are being made to take account of the growing importance of individual aspects of quality. Any tourism destination which maintains and continuously improves high quality supply would easily achieve the leading position as a destination in world tourism. It also helps tourism destinations to meet the challenges from competing destinations and also helps in increasing the market share.
The concept of branding has been used extensively in the context of products and services, however it is a relatively new concept when applied to destination or places (countries, regions, cities, etc.). According to Pike (2004), destinations are places that attract visitors for a temporary stay and range from continents to countries to states and provinces to cities to villages to purpose built resort areas.
Heath (2002) and Ritchie and Crouch (2003) have defined destination brand from a destination management perspective. According to them it can be a name, symbol, logo, word, mark or graphics that both identifies and differentiates the destination. Furthermore, it conveys the promise of a memorable travel experience that is uniquely associated with the destination and it also serves to consolidate and reinforce the recollection of pleasurable memories of the destination experience.
In one of the inter-relationship study on quality management system, Eraqi (2008) suggested that for best practices, the travel and tourism companies need to establish its own quality management system to benchmark it with its competitors and if necessary (in most cases), differentiate it from others. Such a step can help the service providers to differentiate their services and ultimately contribute towards building a unique brand (in terms of destination or its allied services) in tourism industry.
Magas (2003) also focused on quality aspects in a tourism destination. He concluded that these days the guests usually do not differentiate according to various offer carriers but according to offer and ascribe its quality to the destination level. It is precisely for this reason, that carriers of destination tourist products develop process orientations for all the destinations. Moreover, Kumar et al. (2009) reported that Quality Management is a significant determinant of less work defect. Less work defect and shorter work process time may lead organizations to use less resources, which in turn saves on the cost of operations.
The word branding links quality and destination Branding perspectives which is more than just a business buzzword. It is the crux of selling in the new economy. According to Kotler and Armstrong (2006), brand building and management are essential skills in the marketing of any product, service, organization, person, place or cause. A brand is not just the name put an offering; it is the driving force that shapes the marketing mix, and provides a platform for an organization's strategies and tactics.
Based on the above mentioned relationship between quality management perspectives and destination branding constructs, the study on this area needs a special attention. Basically, the journey to excellence in travel and tourism industry is not a quick fix. It is a never-ending climbup the ladder of continual improvement. Key steps along the way need to ensure that tourism organizations across the globe are aware of the excellence framework, built on the good work of tourism organizations done till date and continue to celebrate achievements and increase awareness. …