Influence of nationality on the interpretation of Ireland's tourism destination imagery
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This thesis investigates the influence of nationality on the interpretations of the tourism destination imagery of Ireland, drawing in particular on the views of tourists travelling from Britain. It involved an assessment of the influence (if any) of the nationality of the tourist and the nationality of the place on pre- and post-visit interpretations of Ireland's perceived and projected images, as well as an evaluation of the implications of such influences on Ireland's image as a tourist destination. By means of empirical research applied to the same sample of tourists travelling from Britain to Ireland via Shannon airport, the factors that contribute to the formation of respondents' perceived destination images were analysed, and the degree of image modification was assessed using pre- and postvisitation questionnaires. Meanwhile, the intended projected image of Ireland was determined by means of a semi-structured interview with a representative of Tourism Ireland, and a semiotic and content analysis of brochure material was undertaken to assess the projected and actual image projected. The results of the pre- and post-visit questionnaires demonstrated the need to use nationality and national identity together as both constructs have limitations when applied separately. It was also revealed that images measured over two points in time can vary through the influence of such factors as actual travel experiences with a destination, the nature and extent of information or promotional efforts that the respondents are exposed to, and changes in the economic and social environment. In addition, other factors were also found to mediate the perceived image of a destination and included the perceived national identity held by visitors, the nationality of passport held, levels of destination familiarity, the purpose of trip and travel intensity. Also, the results of the analysis of the intended image indicated that the intended image portrayed of Ireland was one of a natural environment populated with friendly people in an idealised landscape out of time. Collectively, the study identified a number of image gaps between the projected and perceived destination image and highlighted the need for an overall image modification strategy based on a combination of national identity and nationality as an important discriminating variable.
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