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An authentic, unique and memorable destination image is of crucial importance to be competitive in the long-term. Verena Schwaighofer analyses the currently transferred image of the United Arab Emirates as a tourist destination and to what extent the traditional Arabian culture is integrated into the image strategies of image developers in this country. First of all, a detailed theoretical overview referring to various image types, the current image transfer including critical topics related to the religion of Islam, women’s role in society, behaviour, body language and dress code and the open-mindedness of the United Arab Emirates regarding local traditions related to the religion of Islam, is given. In the empirical part, a mixed method, including a qualitative media analysis (focusing on print and new media of image developers as well as newspaper articles published by journalists in the United Arab Emirates and the surrounding countries) and qualitative expert interviews are selected as appropriate research methodology.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Introduction

Tourists all over the world are confronted with a wide spectrum of travel destinations (Pike 2005, p. 258). Numerous offers are provided to the customer and the choice is dependent on the destination’s value for the individual person (Morgan et al. 2004, p. 48). Therefore, creating unique images of destinations and standing out from competitors has become a difficult task for destinations all over the world (Pike, op. cit.). For example, countries such as Italy, France or America already have strong brand images. People’s ideas and associations concerning these destinations are consistent all over the globe somehow. Take France as an example. What comes to mind when thinking about this country? One often thinks of classy, fashionable or simply the high standard of living in this country. These descriptions are the confirmation of a strong destination brand as well as the creation of an image, setting France apart from its competitors in the market (Morgan et al., op. cit., p. 29). However, creating an attractive tourist destination image (TDI) and developing a brand fully charged with emotion is a complex process. The question for destinations should not be how they can beat their rivals, but rather how they might circumvent their fellow campaigners in order to build up a strong image in the long-term (ibid., p. 13).

Verena Schwaighofer

2. Image and destination brands

Choosing a travel destination in times like these is not simply a choice, it is moreover a statement of lifestyle. What kind of journey is worth investing one’s hard-earned money and relatively little leisure time into? The key to success for tourist destinations is to create a product that attracts potential consumers in an emotional way (Morgan et al. 2004, p. 60f). The tourist destination needs to offer something exceptional, otherwise the potential tourists will not be attracted (Howie 2003, p. 102). Therefore, a positive image development as well as a tourist destination’s branding is inevitable to classify and differentiate one destination from another. As a result, the tourist should be attracted by a motivating communication strategy in order to select a specific tourist destination (D’Hauteserre 2001, p. 300).

Verena Schwaighofer

3. The United Arab Emirates

The following chapter provides a general overview of the economic and political, as well as infrastructural situation of the United Arab Emirates. This chapter is integrated in the proposition building process and the author considers the information described below as some kind of facts, which are generally fixed and not easily changeable in a country, as in the case of this master thesis, the United Arab Emirates. A detailed description of the propositions will be given in subchapter 7.5.

Verena Schwaighofer

4. The image of the United Arab Emirates

Image at the very basis is described as the illustration of a commodity or brand in the minds of the individual customers (Andreu et al. 2001, p. 49). Hunt (1975, p. 1) sees that the success of a tourist destination can be directly linked to the image of the respective country, perceived by individual tourists and potential guests. Every year, tourism providers such as holiday destinations, airlines or vacation spots spend huge amounts of money in order to develop the image of their respective tourism business. Nevertheless, in the same article Hunt writes that images can be influenced by recent events happening in the specific country, natural resources available in the surrounding environment, the climate conditions as well as the local inhabitants, all embodying a particular picture of the country. These factors may affect the image of a destination in a positive or negative way (ibid.). “Destination brands are inextricably linked to the image of the place.” (Hankinson 2004, p. 13).

Verena Schwaighofer

5. A cultural perspective

When developing and measuring the image of a tourist destination, several aspects need to be taken into consideration. This ranges from more functional elements like the landscape, level of prices, climatic conditions, offers of attractions and entertainment facilities, to the more psychological elements, which include the local culture, traditional foods, the overall atmosphere and the level of prominence of the tourist destination (Echtner and Ritchie 2003, p. 45). The cultural aspect plays a major role when developing and designing a product or a service and is therewith omnipresent. Furthermore, the cultural component in advertising campaigns and publicity in general has gained increasing importance since the 1990s (Hofstede G. and Hofstede G. J. 2011, p. 455ff).

Verena Schwaighofer

6. Theoretical orientation

Although researchers in the area of tourism are using the expression ‘destination image’, a detailed explanation and definition of this phrase is not given (Echtner and Ritchie 2003, p. 41). Nevertheless, this term was often defined as “The perceptions held by potential visitors about an area…” (Hunt 1975, p. 1). Hunt was one of the initial scientists to discuss the significance of exploring the image of a destination (Agapito et al. 2010, p. 91). This chapter provides an overview of the theoretical approaches that are selected for the area of research in this master thesis. These models have been chosen, as they seem to be the most appropriate theoretical frameworks for the content of this thesis. In combination, the theoretical models provide, on the one hand, a basic foundation for an understanding of the development of the image of a tourist destination brand and on the other hand, they cover the most appropriate theoretical models in a cultural aspect.

Verena Schwaighofer

7. The empirical research methodology

Within the following chapter, the author provides an insight into the planned research methodology in an empirical aspect. In the first and theoretical part of this master thesis the author has set up the overall research question:

“To what extent are the strategies of image developers in the United Arab Emirates interrelated with the traditional cultural background of the Arabian culture when developing the image as a tourist destination brand?”

. Additionally, a detailed theoretical foundation is built, including information about developing the image of a tourist destination brand focusing on the United Arab Emirates, basic facts about the United Arab Emirates in general, cultural background information about the Arabian culture and corresponding theoretical models in both aspects, as well as about media and communication. Afterwards, the second and empirical part of the master thesis can be initiated and the explorative propositions can be built as listed in subchapter 7.5. Propositions are required to generate characteristic research categories and the respective interview guidelines and to provide milestones in answering the overall research question.

Verena Schwaighofer

8. The qualitative media analysis

In the following chapter, the author provides a description of the first part of the empirical research process, the qualitative media analysis. This type of analysis will be accompanied by a discourse analysis. A discourse can be defined as the regulated manners of speaking and consists of objective elements such as social topics, statements and terms as well as subjective elements including physical habits and speaker roles such as gender roles (Link 2006, p. 410). The term discourse can be also defined as a process of discussion, focussing on specific topics that are of interest for the society (Keller et al. 2006, p. 7) as in the case of this master thesis, the image of the United Arab Emirates as a tourist destination brand with strong focus on the cultural aspect. Altheide (2000, p. 292) stated that “Words are powerful when they become symbolic frames that direct discursive practices.” A discourse can be traced by analysing certain content, topics or words over a fixed phase and within various types of media (ibid).

Verena Schwaighofer

9. The qualitative interviews

As previously indicated, the author will also conduct qualitative expert interviews in the empirical research process of this master thesis. The interviews will be carried out in a second step, after the qualitative media analysis has been carried out. In addition to that, the interviews give the author the possibility to confront experts with the results of the qualitative media analysis and gain background information referring to the strategies of image developers in the United Arab Emirates in a cultural perspective.

Verena Schwaighofer

10. Data analysis and research findings

In the following chapter, the analysed data will be examined, research findings will be reviewed and finally, the propositions of subchapter 7.5 will be tested. Every main- and sub-proposition will be listed and answered based on the research results of the qualitative media analysis as well as qualitative expert interviews. Consequently, the individual main- and sub-propositions hold or need to be adjusted. Finally, the outcome will be interpreted and the most relevant results will be summarized.

Verena Schwaighofer

11. Discussion and Conclusion

In the final chapter of this master thesis, the author will critically reflect the empirical research process. The closing results as well as future prospect conclude this master thesis. As essential information in order to answer the overall research question could be found, the empirical research can be assessed as positive. In total, the author found evidence that two main-propositions hold and one needs to be adjusted. In addition to that, three sub-propositions hold and six need to be adjusted.

Verena Schwaighofer

Backmatter

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