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Image variations of Turkey by familiarity index: informational and experiential dimensions

Image variations of Turkey by familiarity index: informational and experiential dimensions

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Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133

Image variations of Turkey by familiarity index: informational and experiential dimensions
Seyhmus Baloglu*
University of Nevada Las Vegas, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, Department of Tourism and Convention Administration, 4505 Maryland Parkway Box 456023, Las Vegas, NV 89154-6023, USA Received 6 September 1999; accepted 23 December 1999

Abstract Familiarity in this study is operationalized and measured as a composite of amount of infor
Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133

Image variations of Turkey by familiarity index: informational and experiential dimensions
Seyhmus Baloglu*
University of Nevada Las Vegas, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, Department of Tourism and Convention Administration, 4505 Maryland Parkway Box 456023, Las Vegas, NV 89154-6023, USA Received 6 September 1999; accepted 23 December 1999

Abstract Familiarity in this study is operationalized and measured as a composite of amount of infor

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Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133

Image variations of Turkey by familiarity index: informational and experiential dimensions
Seyhmus Baloglu*
University of Nevada Las Vegas, William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, Department of Tourism and Convention Administration, 4505 Maryland Parkway Box 456023, Las Vegas, NV 89154-6023, USA Received 6 September 1999; accepted 23 December 1999

Abstract Familiarity in this study is operationalized and measured as a composite of amount of information used (informational familiarity) and previous destination experience (experiential familiarity). A familiarity index was developed based on these two dimensions. The perceptual/cognitive, a!ective and overall image of Turkey showed variations due to US travelers' familiarity level with the destination, the higher the familiarity, the more positive the image. The potential advantages and uses of the familiarity index were discussed. The marketing implications to deal with informational and experiential dimensions were presented to increase familiarity and/or improve destination image. The results particularly suggested that Turkey should utilize sales promotion techniques and conduct public relations/publicity activities rather than relying mostly on mass media advertising. 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction Familiarity with a destination is a signi"cant concept for tourist destinations because of its vital role in tourist destination selection process. It represents a key marketing variable in segmenting and targeting certain groups and developing a marketing action plan including product, distribution, pricing, and promotion decisions. Therefore, it is necessary for tourist destinations to use a reliable and valid measure of familiarity with their destinations. Given the importance of the concept, one particular stream of marketing studies in the travel and tourism literature has centered on the relationship between familiarity and destination image. These studies focused on how destination image varies with familiarity as often measured by previous visitation (direct destination experience) (Pearce, 1982; Phelps, 1986; Dann, 1996; Fridgen, 1987; Chon, 1991; Ahmed, 1991; Fakeye & Crompton, 1991; Hu & Ritchie, 1993; Milman & Pizam, 1995). The majority of these studies focused on only previous experience that represents one dimension of familiarity and examined image di!erences between

non-visitors, "rst-time visitors, and/or repeat visitors. Although one major determinant of familiarity with a destination is previous visitation (Hu & Ritchie, 1993), it is not the only determinant of familiarity. The purpose of this paper is to develop a destination familiarity index as a composite of experiential (previous experience) and informational familiarity and to investigate image variations of Turkey by the familiarity index developed. The contribution of this paper lies in the treatment of the familiarity concept as a multi-dimensional construct incorporating not only experiential (previous experience) dimension, but also informational dimension.

2. Literature review The literature review "rst discusses the issues regarding conceptualization and operationalization of familiarity construct. Then, the "ndings of previous studies focusing on the relationship between familiarity and destination images are presented. 2.1. Conceptualization and operationalization of familiarity

* Tel.: 702-895-3720; fax: 702-895-4870. E-mail address: baloglu@ccmail.nevada.edu (S. Baloglu).

Familiarity is a broad concept and can be de"ned in many ways (Spotts & Stynes, 1985). In the marketing

0261-5177/00/$ - see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S 0 2 6 1 - 5 1 7 7 ( 0 0 ) 0 0 0 4 9 - 2


S. Baloglu / Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133

literature, familiarity has been regarded as one component of consumer knowledge construct (Cordell, 1997; Park, Mothersbaugh & Feick, 1994) and goes beyond `direct experiencea operationalization only. The familiarity with a product has often been de"ned as the number of product-related experiences (advertising exposures, information search, and product experience) accumulated by the consumer (Alba & Hutchinson, 1987). Several other researchers also argued that amount of information should be included in the operational de"nition of the familiarity concept (Rao & Sieben, 1992). However, familiarity with a destination has been treated as a unidimensional construct including previous destination experience in the travel and tourism literature. In this study, familiarity is operationalized as a combination of amount of information and previous experience, including multiple visits. Another common measure of familiarity has been selfrating scale. Self-reported familiarity often includes a scale ranging from `not at all unfamiliara to `extremely familiara or some other versions of anchor labels. Several authors used self-reported familiarity measure in travel and tourism (Fridgen, 1987; MacKay & Fesenmaier, 1997). However, this self-assessed or reported type of measurement has been criticized by several scholars in the sense that it may not re#ect `objectivea knowledge or familiarity (Park et al., 1994; Spotts & Stynes, 1985). Park et al. (1994) argued that self-reported measure is a `subjectivea measure of familiarity and based on what the consumers think they know, which may vary from individual to individual. Likewise, Spotts and Stynes (1985) indicated that although the self-rating technique is relatively easy to use in a survey because it is a single item measure, it measures people's `perceptiona of their familiarity rather than familiarity. Therefore, when it is used to estimate actual familiarity, the results are di$cult to compare across subjects since two individuals with the same knowledge level may rate themselves di!erently on a self-rating scale. Their empirical results indicated that self-ratings are not reliable and valid measures because certain groups underestimate or overestimate their familiarity. In that respect, the number or amount of information sources used would resolve that problem, as it has often been cited as a major component of the familiarity concept. Also, it represents an indirect way of measuring people's familiarity with a destination. 2.2. Familiarity and destination image Familiarity with a destination has appeared to be a signi"cant determinant of destination image. Hu and Ritchie (1993) noted that familiarity with a destination, being a major in#uence on destination perceptions and attractiveness, would incorporate geographic distance, level of knowledge, and previous visitation. Several studies examining the impact of geographical residence on

image have noted that the di!erences in images due to geographical residence or distance might be attributable to familiarity (past experience) with the destination (Crompton, 1979; Ahmed, 1991; Fakeye & Crompton, 1991). The results of above-mentioned studies suggest that the impact of geographical location (distance) of perceiver on destination image is not conclusive. As suggested by the researchers, either individuals' previous visitation or their level of knowledge due to various information sources would be the actual cause of image variations. As Crompton (1979) and Ahmed (1991) noted, regional image di!erences might be due to varying degrees of induced image which is the level of knowledge of respondents about destination due to the promotional strategy of the destination. Previous visitation or direct experience with a destination is likely to alter and modify the image of the destination. Numerous studies investigated image modi"cations due to actual destination experience (overt-behavior). Some of these studies utilized a longitudinal approach by which the modi"cations between travelers' pre- and post-trips destination images were compared (Pearce, 1982; Phelps, 1986; Dann, 1996). Other studies examined the image di!erences between travelers who visited the destination (visitors) and those who did not (nonvisitors) (Fridgen, 1987; Chon, 1991; Ahmed, 1991; Fakeye & Crompton, 1991; Hu & Ritchie, 1993; Milman & Pizam, 1995). Pearce (1982) compared tourists' pre- and post-travel images of two Mediterranean countries, and found that travelers to both countries changed some of their perceptions after visiting them. Phelps (1986) examined pre- and post-trips images of travelers and also showed that a perceptual change took place after direct observation of destinations. Using a qualitative approach, Dann (1996) compared pre-trip and on-trip cognitive, a!ective, and conative images of Barbados. Open-ended responses with and without pictorial stimuli were sought from travelers to reveal qualitative meaning of key words in respondents' descriptions. The qualitative pattern of responses with or without pictorial stimuli for three image components showed variations between pre-trip and on-trip. Fridgen (1987), in a cognitive mapping task, surveyed travelers about which parts of Michigan they perceived to be recreation and tourism regions. The maps of respondents who were familiar and unfamiliar with the state were compared. The author developed a familiarity index comprising both knowledge level and previous visitation. The author concluded that familiarity (level of knowledge and actual visitation) with a destination has a positive e!ect on travelers' images. However, the author has used `subjectivea (self-rated) measure of familiarity as one component of the level of knowledge. Chon (1991) compared the image of Korea held between those traveling to Korea (pre-travel) and those returning from Korea (post-travel). The analysis

S. Baloglu / Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133


indicated that signi"cant di!erences exist in the perceptions of Korea between those who actually experienced the destination and those who did not. Post-visitors' perceptions were found more positive than pre-visitors' perceptions. Ahmed (1991) found di!erences in individual image groupings and overall image between visitors and non-visitors to Utah. The study revealed signi"cant di!erences between visitors and non-visitors in both image dimensions and overall image. The images were generally more favorable for visitors than for nonvisitors. Fakeye and Crompton (1991) recognized the in#uence of multiple visits to a destination on perceptions, and analyzed the images of prospective (nonvisitors), "rst-time, and repeat visitors to the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The results showed that images of non-visitors were signi"cantly di!erent from "rst-time and repeat visitors. The fact that the authors also could not "nd much change between "rst-timers and repeat visitors has led them to conclude that many of the perceptual changes occur during "rst direct experience rather than multiple experiences or visits. Hu and Ritchie (1993) investigated the e!ects of familiarity (previous visitation) on the perceived attractiveness of Hawaii, Australia, Greece, France, and China and reported signi"cant di!erences between the images of non-visitors and visitors to some of these destinations. The authors pointed out that familiarity (i.e previous visitation) has an in#uence, not necessarily in a positive direction, on perceptions of destinations. On the other hand, Milman and Pizam (1995), operationalizing and measuring familiarity as previous experience, found signi"cant di!erences between those who visited the state (visitors) and those who were aware of it (nonvisitors), and that respondents who were familiar with (previously visited) Central Florida had a more positive image of the destination than those who were aware of it. The literature review reveals that the majority of the studies revolving around familiarity (direct destination experience) found a positive relationship between the familiarity and destination image.

3. Method This paper uses the data collected for a major study to examine images of four Mediterranean destinations. The study only focuses on Turkey because of the sampling method used. The sample population for this study was chosen from a list maintained by the Turkish National Tourism O$ce (NTO) of people who requested information about Turkey. A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 1530 individuals from that list in spring 1996. A total of 484 (31.6 per cent) questionnaires were returned. Of those returned, 36 questionnaires were eliminated: twenty-one questionnaires were returned uncompleted or had excessive missing data

and 15 were undeliverable due to address change. After elimination, 448 questionnaires (a usable response rate of 29.6 per cent) were coded for data analysis. Non-response analysis was checked via a telephone interview and no bias was detected with respect to demographics, previous experience, and selected image items. Fourteen perceptual/cognitive evaluation items generated from the literature review and content analysis of Turkey's guidebooks and brochures were included in the questionnaire. They were measured on a 5-point scale where 1"o!ers very little, 2"o!ers somewhat little, 3"neither little nor much, 4"o!ers somewhat much, and 5"o!ers very much. A!ective evaluations of destinations were measured on a 7-point scale by four bipolar scales: Arousing}Sleepy, Pleasant}Unpleasant, Exciting}Gloomy and Relaxing}Distressing (Ward & Russel, 1981; Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997; Walmsley & Young, 1998). Following Stern and Krakover (1993), the amount of information used was measured by a variable indicating the number of institutions, services, and materials through which the respondents have seen or heard about a destination. Nine di!erent information sources were compiled from the literature: Travel Agents, Brochures/Travel Guides, Friends/Family Members, Airlines, Tour Operator/Company, Advertisements, Books/Movies, Articles/News, and Direct Mail from Destination. Out of this list, the amount of information score was calculated as the sum of the number of information sources used. Although the theoretical minimum and maximum familiarity scores could be 0 and 9, the actual scores ranged from 1 to 9 with a median score of 4 and a mean score of 4.33 for Turkey. Using the median as the dividing point, respondents were divided into low familiarity group (below or equal to 4) which were given a score of 1 and high familiarity (above 4) with a score of 2. For the experiential dimension, respondents were classi"ed into three categories based on their past experience and number of visits. Non-visitors were given a score of 0; "rst-time visitors received a score of 1; and repeat visitors (2 or more visits) were given a score of 2. By cross-tabulating two-levels of informational familiarity and three levels of experiential familiarity, a 2;3 factorial table was produced, where respondents belong to one of the six cells (Table 1). The informational and experiential dimension scores were summed for each individual, which resulted in a familiarity index ranging from 1 to 4. The respondents with score of 1 were classi"ed in low familiarity group, those with 2 or 3 were placed in medium familiarity group, and those with a score of 4 were classi"ed in high familiarity group. Multivariate Analysis of Variance was used to assess familiarity group di!erences across Turkey's perceptions on multiple items. This `overalla test examines all dependent variables simultaneously to determine if the mean


S. Baloglu / Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133 Table 2 Demographic pro"le of respondents (N"448) Number Per cent

Table 1 Informational and experiential dimensions of destination familiarity index Experiential Informational Low (1) Non-visitors (0) First-time visitors (1) Repeat visitors (2) 77 (0#1"1) 133 (1#1"2) 29 (2#1"3) High (2) 63 (0#2"2) 105 (1#2"3) 41 (2#2"4)

Age 18}34 years 35}49 years 50}64 years 65 years or older Total Gender Male Female Total Marital status Single Married Divorced/widowed/separated Total Education High school or less College Graduate school Total Household income Under $25,000 $25,000}$34,999 $35,000}$49,999 $50,000}$74,999 $75,000}$99,999 $100,000 or more Total

45 89 152 153 439 212 233 445 86 265 91 442 25 158 169 352 25 39 43 83 58 106 354

10.3 20.3 34.6 34.9 100.0 47.6 52.4 100.0 19.5 60.0 20.6 100.0 6.2 44.4 49.4 100.0 7.3 11.0 12.1 23.4 16.3 29.9 100.0

The number of respondents assigned to each cell. The sum of experiential and informational scores for each cell. For example, for non-visitors and low informational categories, the familiarity index is equal to 1 (0#1).

vectors of all dependent variables are di!erent for familiarity groups. A post-hoc Sche!e test was conducted on univariate statistics (ANOVAs). The Sche!e test was chosen because it is generally regarded as the most conservative procedure for controlling family-wise error rate at 0.05 level (Howell, 1992).

4. Results and discussion The demographic pro"le of respondents is provided in Table 2. The pro"le seems to be homogeneous as the majority of respondents were married, highly educated, and belonging to older age and higher income brackets. Gender of the respondents was almost evenly distributed with 47.5 per cent male and 52.5 per cent female. Almost 70 per cent of the respondents were within 50 or older age brackets. Only 10.3 per cent belonged to the 18}34 age group. Most of the respondents were married (62.7 per cent) and were highly educated, 44.4 per cent attended college and 49.4 per cent attended graduate school. The majority of the respondents reported a yearly household income of $50,000 or more. Almost 30 per cent reported an income of $100,000 or more which was followed by another 16.3 per cent who earned between $75,000 and $99,999. Only 8.2 per cent reported a yearly income under $25,000. For data reduction purpose, principal component analysis with varimax rotation was conducted on 14 perceptual/cognitive items to identify dimensions. The latent root criterion of 1.0 was utilized for factor extraction, and factor loadings of 0.40 were utilized for item inclusion (Hair, Anderson, Tatham & Black, 1992). This analysis produced three component dimensions and explained 59.0 per cent of the variance (Table 3). The dimensions were labeled as `Quality of Experiencea, `Attractionsa, and `Value/Environment.a The multivariate signi"cance tests (Pillais, Hotellings and Wilks) produced by MANOVA were all signi"cant

at 0.001 level. These overall tests suggested that four familiarity groups were di!erent across image variables (perceptual/cognitive, a!ective, and overall). To examine which image items di!erentiate the four familiarity groups, one-way ANOVAs (univariate statistics), using a post hoc Sche!e contrast method, were examined (Table 4). Table shows mean scores of image items for each familiarity group and group di!erences on each image item at 0.05 signi"cance level. The signi"cant differences were found for all image variables except for the arousing-sleepy item. Perception of the quality of experience was found to di!erentiate all three familiarity groups; the higher the familiarity, the more positive was the image of Turkey on this dimension. Both high and medium familiarity groups perceived Turkey more positively in terms of o!ering attractions, value/environment and pleasant and exciting destination than low familiarity group. The high familiarity group perceived Turkey as a more relaxing destination than medium and low familiarity groups. On the other hand, medium and high familiarity groups evaluated Turkey as more exciting than the low familiarity group. Turkey's overall image perceived by high familiarity group was more positive than that of low familiarity group.

S. Baloglu / Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133 Table 3 Principal component analysis of perceptual/cognitive items (N"448) Loading Eigenvalue Variance explained (%) Factor I: Quality of Experience Standard hygiene and cleanliness Quality of infrastructure Personal safety Good nightlife and entertainment Appealing local food (Cuisine) Suitable accommodations Great beaches/water sports Interesting and friendly people Factor II: Attractions Interesting cultural attractions Interesting historical attractions Beautiful scenery/natural attractions 5.02 0.81 0.78 0.71 0.67 0.67 0.64 0.56 0.52 Travel agents Brochures/travel guides Friends/family members Airlines Tour operator Advertisements Books/movies Articles/news Direct mail 38.7


Table 5 Multiple response analysis of information sources used by familiarity groups Information sources used Familiarity index Low Medium (n"77) (%) (n"330) (%) 32.8 83.6 31.1 3.3 37.7 42.6 23.0 32.8 18.0 48.2 88.4 43.9 16.8 47.9 55.8 48.2 62.0 32.3 High (n"41) (%) 47.2 94.4 50.0 25.0 61.1 77.8 72.2 83.3 47.2

1.52 0.85 0.84 0.55


Note: Percentages indicate `Yesa responses for each information source used.

Factor III: Value/Environment Good value for money 0.83 Unpolluted/unspoiled 0.62 environment Good climate 0.48 Total variance explained: 59.0%.



Table 4 The results of univariate analysis of variance with post-hoc Sche!e test Familiarity index Low Medium High (n"77) (n"330) (n"41) Quality of experience Attractions Value/environment Pleasant Arousing Relaxing Exciting Overall image 3.4a 4.5a 3.9a 5.4a 5.6 4.9a 5.6a 5.4a 3.8b 4.8b 4.1b 5.9b 5.8 5.3a 6.1b 5.9 4.1c 4.8b 4.2b 6.2b 6.2 5.9b 6.5b 6.3b 14.9 7.2 4.3 4.4 2.6 6.3 7.0 4.7 0.000 0.000 0.014 0.012 0.078 0.002 0.001 0.009 F-value Signi"cance

Note: Mean scores with di!erent letters are signi"cantly di!erent at 0.05 or better probability level. Perceptual/cognitive images (quality of experience, attractions, and value/environment) were measured on 5point scale whereas a!ective images (pleasant, arousing, relaxing, and exciting) and overall image were measured on a 7-point scale (the higher the score, the more positive the image). Signi"cant at 0.01 level. Signi"cant at 0.05 level.

These results have practical implications for Turkish tourism bodies and agencies. The results suggest that to improve the image of Turkey, necessary marketing

actions should be taken to increase the familiarity of US travelers with the destination. However, this strategy should take both informational and experiential familiarity into consideration. It should be noted that the low familiarity group included only those that have low levels of informational and experiential familiarity while the high familiarity group had high levels of both. Across the image variables and dimensions, the low familiarity group consistently gave Turkey the lowest scores. The travelers should de"nitely be encouraged for "rst-time trial as the medium familiarity group tended to evaluate Turkey more positively than the low familiarity group on most of the destination attributes. This can be achieved by emphasizing sales promotion techniques rather than mostly focusing on advertising in print or broadcast media. As far as the informational familiarity is concerned, it was found useful to examine the type of information sources the familiarity groups used. The multiple response analysis indicated that the low familiarity group mostly used commercial information sources such as brochures/travel guides, advertisements, tour operators, and travel agents (Table 5). On the other hand, high and medium familiarity groups were exposed to Turkey not only through commercial sources, but also through noncommercial sources such as articles/news, books/movies and word-of-mouth. The magnitude (or rank order) of the frequency of information sources in each familiarity group clearly illustrates the importance of non-commercial or autonomous information sources in image development e!orts. Turkey should de"nitely focus its e!orts on public relations and publicity activities to increase the informational familiarity of travelers with the destination. The "ndings have several conceptual implications as well. The results indicated a strong positive relationship


S. Baloglu / Tourism Management 22 (2001) 127}133

between the level of familiarity and perceptions of destinations, supporting the "ndings of previous similar studies. The familiarity index developed on informational and experiential dimensions is a more valid measure than using either dimension alone. The index can be used as an dependent or independent variable to examine the correlates with destination familiarity. The familiarity index could alternatively be labeled and used as 1 being `not familiara, 2 being `familiara, 3 being `very familiara, and 4 being `extremely familiara, without collapsing 2 and 3 into medium familiarity group. This would introduce more variation to the index (scale) if it was going to be used as a continuous variable in a future research. Or the index can be utilized as a categorical variable, as in this study, to examine di!erences in the variables of interest. One might expect that demographics would in#uence travelers' familiarity and images of destinations. For example, age and education would positively correlate with familiarity or they would interact with familiarity in in#uencing destination images. To analyze these possible e!ects, a two-way analysis of variance was used to examine not only the main e!ects of demographics on images, but also the interactions between demographics and familiarity in in#uencing perceptual/cognitive, a!ective, and overall images. The only signi"cant "nding at 0.05 probability level was the main e!ect of age on perceptions of attractions, and no signi"cant interaction e!ect was found between demographics and familiarity. In other words, the analysis could not provide a strong evidence for the in#uence of demographics on images as well as the interaction between demographics and familiarity in in#uencing destination images. However, further research should further investigate this issue because, as mentioned before, the demographic pro"le of travelers in this study was rather homogeneous.

tourist destinations. The marketing e!orts to increase familiarity and/or improve destination image should deal with both informational and experiential familiarity. Promotion budgets can more e!ectively be spent by giving the same priority to sales promotion techniques and public relations/publicity activities as mass advertising. It is worthwhile to mention some limitations of this study and future research issues. The future research can integrate information non-users or those who are not aware of the destination(s) into the familiarity index. This is one limitation of the study because of the sampling method used. Also, depending on the distribution of experiential familiarity, repeat visitors (those who had visited a destination more than once) can be expanded into di!erent multiple visitor groups such as 3, 4, 5 times and so on for domestic destinations. Another limitation not only for this study, but also for the majority of previous studies on familiarity is due to the fact that the images were measured ex post facto. Therefore, the question of whether experiential familiarity leads to positive perception or positive perception leads to experiential familiarity (one or multiple visits) still remains a gray area in travel and tourism literature. Future research would use longitudinal studies or experimental designs to delineate the direction of relationship between the destination image and familiarity. Finally, the information sources included in this study would not cover all information sources used by the travelers; therefore, future studies can also utilize more variety of information sources to further validate the informational familiarity.

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5. Conclusion To only use previous experience to de"ne and measure familiarity is far from capturing the familiarity level of travelers about a particular tourist destination. A traveler's image after experiencing a tourist destination will be dependent upon a blend of knowledge level before visitation and direct experience. Particularly, for largescale environments such as tourist destination countries, the destination cannot be wholly experienced at "rst or couple of visits. Therefore, the traveler would still have informational image of destination o!erings not experienced at earlier visit(s). From conceptual and practical standpoints, there seems to be grounds for using multidimensional rather than unidimensional concept to measure familiarity with tourist destinations. The "ndings indicated that the higher the familiarity, the more positive was the image of Turkey. The practical implications discussed should be of interest to Turkey and other

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