Image Analysis of Bethlehem, Palestine: What can Destination Marketers Learn from their Visitors' Blogs?
Destinations with positive images enjoy distinguished positions in the world tourism market and generate the chance smoothly to shift the destination to more competitive market areas. The positive image of a destination does not attract only higher number of tourists to the place, established through one’s touristic experiences, it can affect tourist’s perceptions towards its residents, culture and heritage. In the early stages of destination evaluation, when the tourist’s involvement with the destination is still low, visuals are vital and need to be considered. Because of the multiple dimensions of destination image and the greater complexity the Internet provided to destination marketing, investigating the destination image on the web is receiving greater attention from researchers as well as from destination marketing practitioners. Yet, despite the recent empirical researches in understanding images of several tourism destinations around the world, there is, however, one intriguing gap in terms of tourism destination images of the areas of conflict. More specifically, there have been no previous studies investigating the online destination image of the areas of conflict. Also there have been no previous studies examining the online tourism image of Bethlehem, Palestine. In this article, we conduct a content analysis on the aggregated data using the software NVivo8 to measure the image of Bethlehem by their visitors. First, we clarify the notion of image measurement and online word-of-mouth and provide a literature review according to the destination branding and online consumer behaviour literature. Second, next to content analysis we use various qualitative analyses to identify Bethlehem image by its visitors analyzing their online publishing on their blogs. On the basis of research findings, we conclude with a discussion of managerial implications and offer a future research agenda.
Keywords: Image Analysis, Online Word-of-Mouth, Blogs, Content Analysis, Bethlehem, Palestine
Dr. Rami Isaac
Researcher at the Centre for Cross-cultural Understanding, Research Centre, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences
Lecturer, International Tourism Management Studies, NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences
Tourism Management Studies and a member of research group Tourism
Destination Management and Marketing at the NHTV Breda University of
Applied Sciences, The Netherlands. Erdinç received a Bsc in Business
Administration in Ankara, Turkey and earned an Mphil degree in Marketing
from Tilburg University, The Netherlands. Erdinç’s work is focused on
understanding the origin of images in tourism destinations. Further his
research examines destination marketing strategies and how they can be
applied in conflict areas.