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The Impact Of Country Attributes On Country Images

6814 words - 28 pages

THE IMPACT OF COUNTRY ATTRIBUTES ON STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM AND TOURISM DESTINATION PURCHASING DECISIONS

ABSTRACT Place branding has become a very competitive arena. Despite the interest of researchers and practitioners, the segment of study abroad programs has received limited attention in the literature review. According to the 2008 Global Directions in Language Travel report, in 2008, in the language studies abroad travel market, more than 1.3 million students studied languages abroad. This limited attention is surprising, given that more and more students are studying abroad. Thus, the objective of this study is to investigate which country attributes are considered relevant when ...view middle of the document...

It is therefore very important that country brand managers know which attributes are important to consumers in order to compete successfully in the market. While the notion of country image has been largely studied in the context of the tourism industry, few studies have discussed its impact in the growing and increasingly competitive market of study abroad programs. Thus, the present study aims to contribute to the understanding of the country attributes that influence the decision concerning where to study abroad. In addition, it investigates how these attributes differ from the factors that drive where a consumer chooses to travel for tourism. 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 Destination Images Since the initial studies regarding destination image, a literature review shows that country image plays a major part in the decision-making process regarding tourism destinations (Mayo, 1973; Hunt, 1975). A favorable destination image has been shown to correlate positively with the place a tourist chooses to visit (Kotler & Gertner, 2002; Gertner & Kotler, 2004; Nebenzahl & Jaffe, 1993; Lebedenko, 2004; Rainisto & Wastberg, 2006; Ham, 2002; Morgan, Pritchard, & Pride, 2002; Papadopoulos, 2004; Supphellen & Grønhaug, 2003). Kotler and Gertner (2002) made the crucial point that destination images are not constructed in a vacuum. While country brand managers would like to exercise total control over their brands, the reality is that consumers very often have their own preconceptions regarding countries. The geography, history, culture, famous citizens, and publicity of a particular country all contribute to these preconceptions. Papadopoulos (2004) acknowledges that this is the case, but feels it is all the more reason that countries should cultivate the images they wish to project to consumers. Furthermore, other

countries are not sitting back, as there has been a “rush to the systematic place marketing as a sine qua non to a nation’s global competitiveness” (p. 47). The challenge is so great and the stakes so high that governments need to work in concern with business interests and academic researchers to maximize the chances for success. Gertner and Kotler (2004) investigated how notions about a place are formed in the consumer’s mind. The authors affirm: “Country images, or knowledge structures related to places, or place schemata, are commonly used as short-cuts for information processing and consumer decision heuristics” (Kotler & Gertner, 2002, p. 251). Govers and Go (2003) argue that the image of a tourist destination is composed of distinct attributes; it is these that tourists consider while evaluating a destination. More than 80% of the destination image studies conducted from 1973 to 2000 used lists of attributes, in structured questionnaires, to operationalize destination image (Pike, 2003). In general, scholars believe that people’s image toward a destination is the result of a combination of particular beliefs or attributes. Thus, scholars...

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