Town centre management: How web interactivity influences the image of a tourist destination

Author(s): 
Carmen Hidalgo Alcázar, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Universidad Católica del Norte (Chile), and María Sicilia, Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Murcia (Spain)


Abstract
The importance of the internet in the image formation process has been widely recognised by both academics and practitioners. Previous research has shown that it influences the cognitive and the affective dimensions of image, although most previous research has focused only on the cognitive part. Research on the influence that this medium has on image, especially through its most expressive and relevant vehicle, the website, still lacks empirical support. This lack of research is especially noticeable in the tourism sector, where the industry has witnessed fundamental changes in recent years. Destination sites have emerged for many cities and regions. The intention to travel to each particular destination may be then determined by the destination site characteristics suchas ease of navigation, text and visual contents and accessibility (downloading time). Some website features may also influence the perceptions of website usefulness in planning the trip. This research focuses on a basic aspect of destination websites: interactivity. From the receiver perspective, the paper analyses how perceived interactivity affects the cognitive and affective dimensions of destination image. The relationships between the overall perceived image and tourist intentions to visit and recommend the destination are also evaluated. The results of this study extend previous research on the offline context by demonstrating how websites affect the image of a tourist destination.

Keywords: interactivity, internet, destination image, tourist destination

 

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