• Jacob R. Larsen
4. term, Tourism, Master (Master Programme)
Within tourism, destination image has been an ongoing discussion for decades because of its importance for the tourist’s choice of holiday destination. Furthermore, previous studies have treated image mainly as the purpose for a successful market communication. This Master’s thesis therefore seeks to add a new perspective, as it explores how destination image could be used as a point of departure for the development of tourist experiences in the national destination. The destination image held by a specific target group is suggested as an advantageous way to understand the specific needs and expectations in relation to a given destination and thereby offering the possibility to facilitate the occurrence of the extraordinary experience. An overall framework is suggested to illustrate the conceptual relationship between destination image and the tourist experience. A literature study reveals that a destination image constitutes a complex structure composed of culturally founded as well as more individually based images. An inherent part of the image contains the expectations for the actual experience on a potential destination and is, among other things, affected by personal travel motivations. The destination image, in other words, accounts for whether or not the tourist possesses an “inner readiness” for certain experiences represented by a concrete destination. However, the experience only occurs when a favorable congruence exists in the meeting between the individual’s subjective experience capabilities and an “outer experience frame” set up by the destination. A holistic view on the development of experiences is consequently suggested to require both demand and supply side. The extraordinary holiday experience demands that the actual activity differs from the daily routine and, even more importantly, that it surpasses the preceding expectations. An element of surprise therefore has to be incorporated in the experience frame, and the tourist has to be challenged on his or her own skills and preferences for experiences, to be extraordinarily affected. Unknown destination characteristics and negative components revealed through an image analysis are suggested as important parts for constituting a surprising and interesting experience frame. However, well known destination attributes still have to be maintained and could equally be refreshed through new experience as-pects. The developed conceptual framework is empirically tested through quantitative and qualitative methods and advances an analysis of a selected target group’s, Spanish exchange students at Danish Universities, image of Denmark as a holiday destination. The analysis constitutes the foundation for a discussion of the possibilities for the Danish destination to develop favorable experience frames to increase the opportunities for an extraordinary experience among the selected target group where several possibilities for the usage of the existing image are revealed. Evidently, the empirical foundation is sub-jugated to certain lacks. The present results, thus, are purely explorative and further research would be required for the suggested framework to obtain a normative status. Nonetheless, this Master’s thesis represents a new perspective on the comprehensive stu-dies of destination image within a tourism context and will hopefully contribute to a greater understanding of a successful development of tourist experiences.
Publication date2009
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 16466540