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Annals of Tourism Research, Vol. 29, No. 1, pp.

56-78, 2002
 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved
Printed in Great Britain
PII: S0160-7383(01)00031-7

Towards a Conceptual Framework
Martina G. Gallarza
Facultad de Estudios de la Empresa, Spain
Irene Gil Saura
Haydée Calderón Garcı́a
Universitat de Valencia, Spain

Abstract: This paper presents a review and discussion of the concept and measurement
of destination image, within an intradisciplinary marketing perspective. Both theoretical and
methodological aspects of this concept and measurement are treated. Based on the existence
of three dimensions of object, subject and attributes, previous studies are analyzed. A tax-
onomy of the methodological and statistical procedures for measuring the image of the
destinations is also proposed in order to help researchers to capture and measure the image
construct. The paper proposes a conceptual model featuring its complex, multiple, relativis-
tic and dynamic nature as a more comprehensive framework of destination image. Keywords:
destination image, perceptions measurement, statistical research procedures, conceptual
model.  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Résumé: Image de destination: vers un cadre conceptuel. Cet article présente une révision
critique et une discussion du concept et du mesurage de l’image de destination à partir
d’une perspective intradisciplinaire de marketing. On discute des aspects théoriques et
méthodologiques de ce concept et du mesurage. En se basant sur l’existence des trois dimen-
sions de l’objet, du sujet et des attributs, on analyze des études précédentes. On propose
aussi une taxonomie des procédures méthodologiques et statistiques du mesurage de l’image
des destinations pour aider les chercheurs à capter et à mesurer la construction de l’image.
L’article propose un modèle conceptuel qui représente sa nature complexe, multiple, relativ-
iste et dynamique comme un cadre plus compréhensif de l’image de destination. Mots-clés:
image de destination, mesurage des perceptions, procédures de la recherche statistique,
modèle conceptuel.  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

The importance of the tourist destination’s image is universally
acknowledged, since it affects the individual’s subjective perception
and consequent behavior and destination choice (Chon 1990, 1992;
Echtner and Ritchie 1991; Stabler 1988; Telisman-Kosuta 1989). This
importance has led to a growing body of research on the tourism desti-

Martina Gallarza teaches Marketing at Facultad de Estudios de la Empresa (Universidad

Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain. Email <>). Her research inter-
ests are customer satisfaction in services. Irene Gil Saura is Principal Lecturer at the Business
Administration Department at Universidad de Valencia. Her research interests are retailing
and service quality. Haydée Calderón Garcı́a is Principal Lecturer at the Business Adminis-
tration Department at Universidad de Valencia. Her research interests are small business
internationalization and brand management.


nation image (TDI). The essential characteristic of this research line

is its multidisciplinarity (Ahmed 1991, 1996; Bramwell and Rawding
1996; Gartner 1989): there are many possible approaches to studying
destination image, because this formation has many implications for
human behavior, as seen through disciplines such as anthropology
(Selwyn 1996), sociology (Meethan 1996), geography (Gould and
White 1992; Draper and Minca 1997), semiotics (Sternberg 1997) and
marketing (Gunn 1972), with respect to the understanding of tourism
consumer behavior.
In the intradisciplinary study of marketing, TDI has been the subject
of considerable research during the last three decades. Investigation
has been commonly based on either effective destination positioning
(Carmichael 1992; Crompton, Fakeye and Lue 1992; Echtner and Rit-
chie 1991; Eizaguirre and Laka 1996; Reilly 1990) or on the destination
selection process (Goodrich 1978; Gunn 1972; Hunt 1975; Opperm-
ann 1996a).
Despite its relevance for tourism marketing, the research on TDI
faces many difficulties. One is the tourism product’s characteristics
such as its complexity (Smith 1994) and multidimensionality (Gartner
1989). Another is that destination marketing involves the consumer
physically moving to the behavior scenario (Seaton 1994; Sessa 1989).
There is also great subjectivity in providing a tourism service: images
are mixed with impressions about residents, retailers, other tourists,
and/or employees (Calderón, Gil and Gallarza 1998). But most of all,
the intangibility of tourism service hinders image assessment as it
depends on invisible elements of pre-visit selection and a pre-taste of
the destination (Fakeye and Crompton 1991). Consequently, in tour-
ism research, “…images are more important than tangible resources”,
all because “perceptions, rather than reality are what motivate con-
sumers to act or not act” (Guthrie and Gale 1991:555).
In spite of the importance of this research line, several authors
recognize a lack of conceptual framework around destination image.
In the early 90s, one could read “although such studies have become
a staple of the tourism research agenda, invariably they have been
atheoretical and lacking in any conceptual framework” (Fakeye and
Crompton 1991:10) or “researchers have not been successful in com-
pletely conceptualizing and operationalizing destination image”
(Echtner and Ritchie 1991:10). Later on, in 1993, Gartner suggests
that “most tourism image research has been piecemeal without a theor-
etical basis for support” (Gartner 1993:209).
In order to provide a more comprehensive theoretical framework
of TDI, a conceptual model from an intradisciplinary marketing per-
spective was developed based on previous literature. The model is
designed for a better understanding of the strategic importance of des-
tination image. It is based on two sources: a review and discussion of
existing theoretical literature about conceptualizing the TDI, and an
analysis and taxonomy of methodologies employed for its measure-
ment. The purpose of the model is to contribute to a better under-
standing of the image concept when applied to tourist destinations

and to aid selection of the best research methodologies for measuring

the TDI construct.


Many authors agree that the TDI research line emerged from Hunt’s
work of 1971 (Driscoll, Lawson and Niven 1994; Echtner and Ritchie
1991; Embacher and Buttle 1989; Fakeye and Crompton 1991; Gartner
and Hunt 1987; Reilly 1990; Sternquist Witter 1985). From this time
onwards, there have been numerous and varied approaches to its study.
Table 1 proposes a regrouping of 65 works, between 1971 and 1999,
which study this subject. The review has considered contributions pub-

Table 1. Literature Review on Tourism Destination Image

Topics Covered Authorsa

a. Conceptualization and dimensions 1,2,4,9,13,15,16,18,19,20,21,22,27,30,31,32,

b. Destination image formation process 1,2,6,9,11,13,16,17,20,22,23,27,31,32,33,34,
(static and dynamic) 46,48,51,63
c. Assessment and measurement of 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9,10,12,13,14,18,19,22,23,34,25,
destination image 26,27,28,33,37,34,40,41,43,47,49,51,54,55,56,
d. Influence of distance on destination 1,4,16,19,23,43,46,56
e. Destination image change over time 6,8,16,19,21,22,23,48,51,53
f. Active and passive role of residents in 5,35,36,39,40,42,45,49,52,57,60,61
image study
g. Destination image management 3,7,9,10,13,14,15,16,19,20,24,25,28,29,30,32,
policies (positioning, promotion, etc.) 33,34,35,36,37,39,40,42,46,47,49,50,51,52,53,

1. Hunt (1971), (1975); 2. Gunn (1972); 3. Goodrich (1978); 4. Crompton (1979); 5.
Sternquist Witter (1985); 6. Gartner (1986); 7. Haahti (1986); 8. Gartner and Hunt (1987);
9. Stabler (1988); 10. Calantone et al (1989); 11. Chon (1989); 12. Embacher and Buttle
(1989); 13. Gartner (1989); 14. Min Han (1989); 15. Telisman-Kosuta (1989); 16. Ashworth
and Voogd (1990); 17. Chon (1990); 18. Reilly (1990); 19. Ahmed (1991); 20. Ashworth
(1991); 21. Chon (1991); 22. Echtner and Ritchie (1991); 23. Fakeye and Crompton (1991);
24. Guthrie and Gale (1991); 25. Williams and Clarke (1991); 26. Carmichael (1992); 27.
Chon (1992); 28. Crompton et al (1992); 29. Heath and Wall (1992); 30. Kotler et al (1994);
31. Valls (1992); 32. Bordás and Rubio (1993); 33. Echtner and Ritchie (1993); 34. Gartner
(1993), (1996); 35. Prentice and Hudson (1993); 36. Ritchie (1993); 37. Amor, Calabuig,
Abellán and Monfort (1994); 38. Driscoll et al (1994); 39. Getz (1994); 40. King (1994); 41.
Mazanec (1994); 42. Ryan and Montgomery (1994); 43. Dadgostar and Isotalo (1995); 44.
Muller (1995); 45. Parenteau (1995); 46. Ahmed (1996); 47. Bramwell and Rawding (1996);
48. Dann (1996); 49. Eizaguirre and Laka (1996); 50. Fesenmaier and MacKay (1996); 51.
Oppermann (1996a), (1996b); 52. Schroeder (1996); 53. Selby and Morgan (1996); 54. Balo-
glu (1997); 55. Baloglu and Brinberg (1997); 56. Borchgrvink and Knutson (1997); 57. Lind-
berg and Johnson (1997); 58. Lumsdon (1997); 59. Alford (1998); 60. Lawson et al (1998);
61. Smith and Krannich (1998); 62. Walmsley and Young (1998); 63. Baloglu and McCleary
(1999); 64. Lohmann and Kaom (1999); 65. Ruiz, Olarte and Iglesias (1999).

lished in main tourism journals, and books which detail a theoretical

approach to the concept of tourism image (Ashworth and Voogd 1990;
Heath and Wall 1992; Kotler, Haider and Rein 1994; Lumsdon 1997;
Parenteau 1995). The organization and topics delimitation are based
on authors’ subjective criteria. The scope of destination image research
is so vast that some related topics (such as destination attractiveness)
were judged to be beyond the scope of this paper, but some relevant
studies on attitude towards destinations are included (Muller 1995;
Ryan and Montgomery 1994; Sternquist Witter 1985). This is because
of the similarity of mathematical procedures used in measuring atti-
tudes and images and because residents’ attitudes towards tourism can
be a significant component of the destination image formation pro-
cess. Table 1 is then a personal overview of the stream of research on
TDI: it can be examined by topics, by authors, or in chronological
order from 1971 to 1999. Each contribution can be considered in more
than one topic. Several comments on each topic are presented as
insights into the purpose of the paper.

Conceptualization and Dimensions. Although it started in the early 70s

(Hunt 1971; Gunn 1972), the conceptual delimitation of destination
image has remained an area of preferred study (Baloglu and McCleary
1999) with important attempts at synthesis during the late 80s
(Telisman-Kosuta 1989). Nevertheless, there are almost as many defi-
nitions of image as scholars devoted to its conceptualization. As in
Echtner and Ritchie’s (1991) previous review on the meaning of desti-
nation image, a selection of TDI definitions is presented to illustrate its
various dimensions (Table 2). Beyond the definitions, there are some
relevant efforts. Gartner (1989) presents a study of great importance
for its conceptual/empirical integration. Echtner and Ritchie (1991,
1993) also contribute greatly to the difficult task of framing TDI, by
acknowledging the existence of three axes that support the image of
any destination: the functional/psychological, the common/
unique, and the holistic/attribute-based axes. However, after almost
three decades of research on its meaning and measure, there is still no
consensus on the process and nature of destination image formation
(Ashworth and Voogd 1990; Baloglu and Brinberg 1997; Echtner and
Ritchie 1991, 1993). Consequently, although this topic has a significant
number of contributions, there is still a need for better understanding
of the concept and dimensions of TDI.

Destination Image Formation Process. In this topic two approaches to

the destination image formation process are considered: static and
dynamic (Baloglu and McCleary 1999). The first one is the study of
the relationship between image and tourist behavior such as satisfac-
tion (Chon 1990) and destination choice (Hunt 1975). The second
one is the interest in the structure and formation of TDI itself (Gartner
1996). As noticed by Baloglu and McCleary the second approach has
had less success. Of all the studies reviewed, those carried out by Chon
(1990), (1992) were considered of special interest, due to his emphas-
izing the importance of destination image to tourism as a whole.

Table 2. Selected Definitions of Product, Place and Destination Image

Hunt (1971): Impressions that a person or persons hold about a state in which
they do not reside
Markin (1974): Our own personalized, internalized and conceptualizing
understanding of what we know
Lawson and Bond-Bovy (1977): An expression of knowledge, impressions,
prejudice, imaginations and emotional thoughts an individual has of a specific
object or place
Crompton (1979): An image may be defined as the sum of beliefs, ideas, and
impressions that a person has of a destination
Dichter (1985): The concept of image can be applied to a political candidate, a
product, and a country. It describes not individual traits or qualities but the total
impression and entity makes on the minds of others
Reynolds (1985): An image is the mental construct developed by the consumer
on the basis of a few selected impressions among the flood of total impressions. It
comes into being through a creative process in which selected impressions are
elaborated, embellished and ordered
Embacher and Buttle (1989): Image is comprised of the ideas or conceptions held
individually or collectively of the destination under investigation. Image may
comprise both cognitive and evaluative components
Fakeye and Crompton (1991): Image is the mental construct developed by a
potential tourist on the basis of a few selected impressions among the flood of
total impressions
Kotler et al (1994): The image of a place is the sum of beliefs, ideas, and
impressions that a person holds of it
Gartner (1993), (1996): Destination images are developed by three hierarchically
interrelated components: cognitive, affective, and conative
Santos Arrebola (1994): Image is a mental representation of attributes and
benefits soughts of a product
Parenteau (1995): Is a favorable or unfavorable prejudice that the audience and
distributors have of the product or destination

Gartner presents also useful theoretical insights into the complexity of

image formation. Finally, Baloglu and McCleary’s model is an excellent
overall and comprehensive approach to this topic.

Assessment and Measurement of Destination Image. Within the exten-

sive TDI research line, there are two very different approaches to its
measurement: first, there are empirical studies that, without actually
developing theoretic bodies, apply statistical instruments (Schroeder
1996) and, second, there are empirical studies that, as well as
explaining a methodology, deal with the problems of the measurement
of image (Carmichael 1992; Echtner and Ritchie 1993; Reilly 1990).
Due possibly to the aforementioned difficulties and responsibilities,
studies of the first approach are more common than those of the
second. Attention is drawn to Mazanec’s work (Mazanec 1994), which
is not a TDI study but a research on the image of Australian tour oper-
ators; it has been considered in Table 1 because of the interesting
discussion on multidimensionality of image and the problems related
to its assessment and measurement. Further, Driscoll et al. (1994) pro-

vide a valuable insight into data collection techniques used in the

methodological procedure of measuring perceptions. The present
paper aims to provide a more analytical review of measurement meth-
odologies of studies presented in respect to this topic.
Distance and Destination Image Change Over Time. Few studies have
focused on the distance variable. These essentially concentrate in com-
paring samples of respondents from different origin in an attempt to
assess the relationship between geographical location and image
(Crompton 1979). It is generally assumed that distance has a role in
the image formation process. The influence of time, often investigated
along with the influence of space, can be categorized into three kinds
of studies: first, those which study the influence of length of stay in
the image destination (Fakeye and Crompton 1991); second, works
that repeat, after a period of time, previous studies on the same desti-
nation (Gartner and Hunt 1987); and, third, those investigating the
effect of previous visitation on image formation (Dann 1996). The cor-
rect way of assessing the influence of time on image formation should
be not the comparisons of different samples, but longitudinal sampling
studies, although this kind of research is difficult in tourism.
Active and Passive Role of Residents in Image Study. Topic f in Table
1 includes two streams of research on residents and tourism images.
One, residents of destinations may have images of their own place of
residence that can be investigated in comparison with those of tourists
(Sternquist Witter 1985). This stream has been called ‘residents’ active
role’ in destination image study. Two, the interest in residents’ attitude
towards tourism has brought another body of research (Getz 1994;
Lindberg and Johnson 1997; Ryan and Montgomery 1994; Smith and
Krannich 1998). Residents are often seen as part of the image elements
(Echtner and Ritchie 1991) and their support for the industry may
affect the tourists’ perceptions of the destination. This second line of
research is labelled ‘residents’ passive role in destination image study.’
Both kinds of studies generally present managerial implications, thus
becoming useful guidelines for destination analysis and policies.
Destination Image Management Policies. As a result of the importance
of TDI research, this last topic covers the review of strategic dimensions
of destination image. Some studies are devoted to this construction as
a management tool (Ritchie 1993); some concentrate on the link
between destination image and positioning strategies (Haahti 1986);
and others study advertising and promotion of marketing images for
destinations (Fesenmaier and MacKay 1996). Studies that give substan-
tial managerial implications after TDI empirical studies are also con-
sidered within this topic (Guthrie and Gale 1991). There is still a line
of research on the image of countries as indicators of the ‘halo’ or
‘country of origin’ effect: the nationality of the product conditions its
perception and contributes for its selling (Min Han 1989). Actually,
products and places can arise in consumers’ minds under the umbrella
of a global image based on nationality (Bordás and Rubio 1993; Willi-
ams and Clarke 1991).

A Review and Taxonomy of TDI Measurement

The particularities of the TDI construct make any approach to its

measurement, according to Carmichael, a ‘methodological challenge’
(Carmichael 1992:94). However, one universal characteristic of all
image studies makes the task more attractive: their versatility. As shown
by Mazanec 1994, in any image study, relationships between variables
are set out in three dimensions: the subject’s perceptions are measured
(1st dimension) around objects or destinations (2nd dimension) and
with respect to certain attributes or characteristics (3rd dimension).
This tri-dimensionality of image studies gives the researcher some
flexibility when managing the relationship between variables: empirical
studies of image have been developed from a segmentation perspective
(interest due to the ‘subject variable’—Baloglu 1997; Crompton 1979;
Dadgostar and Isotalo 1995; Fakeye and Crompton 1991; Schroeder
1996; Sternquist Witter 1985); from the point of view of competitive
analysis (interest due to ‘object variable’—Calantone, Di Benedetto,
Hakam and Bojanic 1989; Crompton et al 1992; Guthrie and Gale
1991; Oppermann 1996a, 1996b); and from the perspective of the
analysis of the components of this image (interest due to the ‘attribute
variable’—Ahmed 1991; Baloglu and Brinberg 1997; Echtner and Rit-
chie 1991; Embacher and Buttle 1989; Gartner 1989).
Figure 1 and Table 3 provide further insights into Mazanec’s dimen-
sions. They categorize a selection of 25 empirical studies of TDI from
the last two decades based on the three dimensions of attributes
(Figure 1), subjects, and objects (Table 3). The 25 studies were selec-
ted among all empirical TDI research that measure attributed-based
image. Studies employing affective adjective scales instead of attributes
ratings (Baloglu and Brinberg 1997) or evaluative scales (Walmsley and
Young 1998) were consequently not considered. With same purposes,
studies using qualitative techniques, although contemplating attri-
butes, are not considered in Figure 1 and Table 3 due to the difficulty
in homogenizing the attribute names (Dann 1996; Reilly 1990). In Fig-
ure 1, following Echtner and Ritchie’s 1991 procedure of reviewing
attributes used by previous researchers, those were organized into a
functional/psychological axis. In addition to Echtner and Ritchie’s
method, authors’ names are also presented, for a more complete and
chronological overview of the attribute dimension of TDI.
For selecting attributes and considering them in the tables, three
rules were followed. One, in studies using information-reduction
methods, the revised attributes are selected before the statistical pro-
cedure; so there are items but not factors or components. Two, given
the variety of attributes and destination types, only the more universal
attributes have been considered, ignoring those that correspond to the
idiosyncrasies of a particular destination (such as snow quality at ski-
stations). Three, when the study listed various similar attributes (like
fishing, hunting, and rafting), these were regrouped into one category
(sports activities). Therefore, the attributes considered sum up a total
of 20.
In Table 3, ‘object’ variable (destination types) and ‘subject’ types

Figure 1. The Most Common Attributes used in TDI Studies

(respondents) are described and classified. Five types of destinations

were found (cities, countries, states of the United States, ski-stations,
and other zones such as valleys and islands). The categorization of the
subject variable asks for a closer analysis given that the options men-
tioned were very heterogeneous. This is probably due to a greater or
lesser interest on segmentation shown by authors as well as the explicit
influence of variables such as time, place, and previous knowledge of
the area. Furthermore, four generic subject categories were collected:
residents (divided into retailers, ‘near-home’ tourists, and other
residents), tourists (prospective, first time, or repeat), visitors (when
current knowledge of the destination is required), and unspecified,
when the study did not indicate the segmentation of the subject vari-
The results of analyzing Figure 1 and Table 3 provide revealing
insights on previous image research. ‘Residents’ receptiveness’ was the
attribute most mentioned (20 out of 25 studies), followed by ‘land-

Table 3. A Review of Object and Subject Dimension of TDI Studies

Subjectsa Authors Objectsb

D 1. Crompton (1979) II
D 2. Goodrich (1978) I+II
A1+B 3. Sternquist Witter (1985) I
C 4. Haahti (1986) II
D 5. Gartner and Hunt (1987) III
C 6. Calantone et al. (1989) II
D 7. Gartner (1989) III
B 8. Embacher and Buttle (1989) II
C 9. Guthrie and Gale (1991) IV
B1 10. Ahmed (1991) III
B1+B2 11. Chon (1991) II
B1;B2+B3 12. Fakeye and Crompton (1991) V
B1;B2+B3 13. Crompton, Fakeye and Lue (1992) V
D 14. Carmichael (1992) IV
C 15. Chon (1992) I
B1 16. Echtner and Ritchie (1993) II
D 17. Driscoll et al (1994) II
A2 18. Dadgostar and Isotalo (1995) I
C 19. Muller (1995) I
D 20. Eizaguirre and Laka (1996) I
A 21. Schroeder (1996) III
D 22. Ahmed (1996) III
D 23. Oppermann (1996a), (1996b) I
B 24. Baloglu (1997) II+V
B1+B2 25. Baloglu and McCleary (1999) II

Object variable: I, cities; II, countries; III, USA states; IV, ski resorts; V, other zones.
Subject variable: A, residents; A1, retailers; A2, ‘near home’ tourists; B, tourists; B1,
prospective; B2, first time; B3, repeater; C, tourists; D, not determined.

scape and/or surroundings’ (19 out of 25 studies). The same attributes

were previously found in Echtner and Ritchie’s 1991 review, but in
inverse order. The point is made on the importance of tourists’ percep-
tion of residents, as stated in literature review (topic f in Table 1). In
a diacronic analysis, the balance between functional and psychological
attributes seem not to change over 20 years, although studies since
1990 seem to contemplate more attributes. With respect to the number
of destinations studied, there is indeed a great variety, depending
essentially on the aim of the study and the methodology employed.
Embacher and Buttle (1989) suggest a limited number of destinations
when the purpose is to relate image to the choice process. For different
purposes, their number can be larger (such as 30 in Oppermann
1996a, 1996b). Regarding destination types, it can be observed that
the most common is countries (10 out of 25 studies), followed by cities
(seven times), and US states (five times). As Oppermann (1996a) sug-
gested, there might be a possible line of research on cities’ image,
within the current stream of research on urban tourism. Very few stud-

ies compare two different types of destination (Baloglu 1997; Good-

rich 1978).
The categorization of destinations is normally set by the researcher,
and consumers’ perceptions might not be so clear. In fact, in their
mental choices, tourists evaluate a set of different categories of desti-
nations: a city, an island, and a small country, for instance. As stated
by Haahti (1986):18 “the consumer compares perceptions of various
objects, on occasions with different levels of abstraction” (a country
and a geographical zone, for instance). Further research on the desti-
nation as a product in the consumer’s mind could provide useful
guidelines on the consideration of one or another type of object vari-
able in TDI studies. Opposite to object variable, comparisons among
different types of respondents are most common. Most of them are
looking for purposes that determine the effect on image formation of
demographic, geographic, and other differences among tourists.
Faced with the possibility of choosing among subjects, objects and
attributes, the researcher’s responsibility when measuring images is
considerable. There is a relation between the measurement system and
the ease of capturing the many components of a TDI, for different
respondents and different scenarios. There is a need of choosing stat-
istical instruments adaptable to the complex nature of image that allow
its measurements as accurately as possible. This task should be
designed by the researcher according to the aim of the study (interest
in the subject, object or attribute variable).

Review and Analysis of Measurement Methodologies

Within topic c from Table 1, the methodologies of empirical image
studies have been reviewed. This review has produced Figures 2 and
3, with a classification of all the empirical studies of TDI measurement.
Figure 2 presents a review and taxonomy of nonquantitative methods,

Figure 2. A Taxonomy Review of Non-quantitative Methods for Measuring TDI


Figure 3. A Taxonomy Review of Procedures for Measuring TDI

divided into two blocks: qualitative techniques and other techniques.

The first block encompasses techniques such as free elicitation and
open-ended questions, focus groups, and indepth interviews and
experts discussions. The second group covers essentially content analy-
sis. Figure 3 provides the same kind of taxonomy and review for quanti-
tative methods distinguishing multivariate and bivariate methods. The
first group is divided into three kinds of statistical procedures: infor-
mation reduction techniques, grouping techniques, and dependence
analysis. The second group, bivariate methods, includes correlation
analysis and t-tests.
In Figure 2, two columns are considered: methodological procedure
(with the aforementioned sections) and authors. Each author can be
located in one or more than one section, depending on the number
of qualitative techniques employed in his/her study. In Figure 3, the
same presentation is proposed, with an additional column: the data
collection technique used in questionnaires. The legend provides

guidelines for reading the abbreviations. The number beside the data
collection techniques indicates the size of the response format. When
the study developed successive algorithms of the transformed data, the
name of the author appears repeated in two or more sections (for
example, Ahmed 1991 uses Principal Component Analysis, ANOVA,
and t-test). In these cases, the data collection method is cited with the
first technique and the words ‘2nd technique’ appear in data collection
column, in the second citation. Authors that use identical methodology
(both the statistical procedure and the data collection technique)
appear in the same row.
The result of the taxonomy undertaken shows that the method-
ologies used are in general quite complicated. For the most part, there
is a combination of multivariate and bivariate techniques, with a
greater or lesser presence of qualitative techniques in the preliminary
steps (such as Guthrie and Gale 1991 using focus group to generate
items, then Factor Analysis and Multidimensional Scaling). Very few
studies use qualitative methods as the main technique (Dann 1996;
Reilly 1990), although some use a good combination of both qualitat-
ive and quantitative methods (Echtner and Ritchie 1993). Some studies
use solely qualitative methods because they analyze marketing place
promotion images with a strategic purpose (Ashworth 1991; Bramwell
and Rawding 1996; Selby and Morgan 1996): these studies are not con-
sumer research based. Regarding data collection format, only two stud-
ies have been found that use the Kelly Grid, either exclusively
(Embacher and Buttle 1989) or compared with the ‘scaled question-
naire’ (Driscoll et al. 1994). Among all collection procedures, the
seven-point Likert Scale is the most commonly used.
In general, multivariate techniques predominate because they allow
for determination of the latent multidimensional structure of the TDI,
as well as average scoring as a numeric instrumentalization of image.
This property allows for the capture of various image components, for
various publics, and various destinations (Calantone et al. 1989). Infor-
mation is gathered on the three dimensions of image analysis detailed
by Mazanec 1994. From all the multivariate methods, the most com-
monly employed for measuring destination image are information
reduction techniques: Multidimensional Scaling, and Factor Analysis
Methods (Correspondences Analysis, Principal Component Analysis
and Factor Analysis). It is important to point out that Factor Analysis
collects a diversity of regrouped techniques under this common name
due to the similar mathematical treatment of the information. How-
ever, the Principal Component Analysis is not a Factor Analysis as such,
essentially because of the treatment given to the variance (Nunnally
1978). Yet due to similarities in mathematical instrumentalization,
many authors consider their studies together with Correspondences
Analysis and Principal Components Analysis (Aaker and Day 1989).
Taking into account the acknowledgment of theoretical complexity
and limitations to conceptualizing TDI (Ashworth and Voogd 1990;
Echtner and Ritchie 1991; Fakeye and Crompton 1991; Gartner 1996),
further analysis on marketing-based destination image conceptualiz-
ation was conducted. Based upon the revision and organization of pre-

vious approaches made by the authors of this article, a theoretical

model is proposed as a description of the image concept. It summarizes
the large number of preceding studies and can help future research
by providing a more comprehensive framework. In the model, the con-
ceptual nature of TDI underlines its importance as a valuable variable
for destination management.

A Theoretical Model
The proposed model (Figure 4) is based on four features. A feature
means a defining element of a construct, which, without being a defi-
nition, allows for its systematic identification and permits its descrip-
tion by particularizing its nature as opposed to other mental constructs.
Features are semantically explained in the model by adjectives. They
are drawn from two sources: the literature review and the analysis of
the taxonomies undertaken by authors of the present work. On the
left side of the figure, previous TDI research is listed according to
statements: each feature relies directly (thick arrow) or indirectly (thin
arrow) on one or several statements. On the right side of the figure,
content analysis on the taxonomies brings up comments that contrib-
ute to each of the features (shown in the figure with thick or thin
arrows). Every feature found underlines a useful dimension of the con-
cept of image for strategic management of destinations: ‘complexity’
underlines an analytical dimension, ‘multiplicity’ provides an action
dimension, ‘relativistic’ character translates TDI as a strategic tool, and
‘dynamic’ character allows for tactical decisions based on TDI.

The Complex Nature of the Destination Image. A ‘complex’ concept is

one which allows for more than one interpretation or whose compre-
hension lacks a unique meaning. The conceptual delimitation of desti-
nation’s image is not unequivocal. Definitions are as many as the
authors interested in conceptualizing it (Table 2). For some authors,
image is a concept that can be applied to multiple objects, among
them an area or a country (Markin 1974; Reynolds 1985). Generally,
all authors agree that the concept usually corresponds to a global
impression (Crompton 1979; Dichter 1985; Kotler et al. 1994;
Lumsdon 1997; Parenteau 1995). However, when determining the
components that make up this global impression, some differences
appear: for Crompton (1979) TDI possesses cognitive components, for
Embacher and Buttle (1989) and Baloglu and McCleary (1999) image
comprises both cognitive and evaluative components, and for Gartner
(1996) and Dann (1996) destination images are formed by three inter-
related components: cognitive, evaluative, and conative.
In addition to differences in components, the way those components
interact is also variable. Some conceptualizations of image have a selec-
tive character (Fakeye and Crompton 1991; Reynolds 1985) while
others are additives (Crompton 1979; Kotler et al. 1994). There is
neither a consensus as to whether or not TDI can be conceived as a
collective impression, meaning by various subjects at the same time
(Embacher and Buttle 1989; Hunt 1975; Lawson and Bond-Bovy 1977)

Figure 4. A Conceptual Model of TDI

or whether it should be understood more as a uni-personal impression

(Crompton 1979; Hunt 1971; Markin 1974). The first focus would gen-
erally differentiate image as opposed to the stereotype, this being
understood as a collective image.
Thus, there is a possible debate around the TDI construct both in
its nature (collective or uni-personal) and in its content (type of
components and way of interaction). These dyslexias in conceptualiz-
ing TDI underline a first feature: its complexity. This is reinforced by
the result of the analysis undertaken with Table 3 and Figures 1–3. As

Mazanec 1994 suggests, there is a need of considering three different

variables in all image studies, which is an added methodological com-
plexity. Statistical procedures that have been listed are also quite com-
plex and researchers usually employ more than one. Consequently,
both theoretically and methodologically speaking, there is a need to
consider an analytical dimension of TDI to discover an accurate under-
standing of the construct.

The Multiple Nature of the Image. The existence of a multiplicity of

factors or variables that make up the identity of a destination’s image
has been an area of substantial investigation. First of all, as in most
tourism related constructs, there is a need for multidisciplinary focus
on TDI (Baloglu 1997; Bramwell and Rawding 1996). When consider-
ing this construct, the justification of its multiple nature lies in two
factors. The first corresponds to its nature (attribute-based or holistic)
and the second to its formation process (both static and dynamic
A first factor of multiplicity is that any product or service image can
be understood as a multi-item construct (Reynolds and Guttman
1984). When the product is a destination, the multiple attributes are
the elements of the final composite image (Ahmed 1991, 1996). Conse-
quently, a major focus concentrates on the assessment of multiattribute
based images (Baloglu 1997; Carmichael 1992; Schroeder 1996). How-
ever, in spite of the almost universal acknowledgement of the multidi-
mensionality of the TDI, some studies consider global scores of the
image. These scores are a pondered sum of the perceptions of the
components (Ahmed 1991, 1996; Dadgostar and Isotalo 1995) or a
direct observation introduced in the questionnaires (Schroeder 1996).
The real point is then whether a destination image is an output in
itself or needs to be attribute based. Some authors claim the need of
considering both views (Echtner and Ritchie 1993) and some others
measure holistic images via qualitative techniques (Reilly 1990). When
considering image as a global and holistic perception of all the compo-
nents of the destination, TDI is then assumed to be like a gestalt.
Internal perceptions constitute an assessment that the consumer
makes, sometimes unconsciously, that is not exclusively based on physi-
cal or functional attributes of the destination, but more on holistic
attributes (Echtner and Ritchie 1991, 1993). This dyslexia in the
approach to the multidimensionality of TDI constructs supports the
multiple feature (thick arrow), but also reinforces the first feature:
complexity (a thin arrow).
The second factor that conditions the multiple nature of the desti-
nation’s image comes from the formation process. The image, as an
overall output, comes from a sequence of stages where several elements
and factors influence and interrelate. The TDI formation process pro-
duces two areas of research interest: destination choice and tourist sat-
isfaction. The image formation process can be related to destination
selection intention (Goodrich 1978; Hunt 1975) and to tourist satisfac-
tion when actual visitation takes place (Chon 1990). In both cases,

the TDI formation process has multiple components interrelated in a

number of stages.
Generally, any doctrine, using Gunn’s (Gunn 1972) initial
nomenclature, recognizes organic components (family tradition, tea-
chers, mass media, books, etc.) and induced components (those that
come from the promotional efforts made by the industry to attract
consumers). The relationship between these components has been
examined by Gartner (1996) who suggests that images are formed
throughout a continuum of eight stages that proceed from induced to
organic agents. Nevertheless, although the TDI formation process has
led to a substantial body of literature, “most studies have largely
focused on its static structure, …but not in its dynamic nature”
(Baloglu and McCleary 1999:869). Similarly, the TDI formation pro-
cess has been mostly studied to explain tourist behavioural constructs,
often neglecting, the need to understand the complex image forma-
tion process itself. In any of both approaches, static and dynamic, the
multiplicity of stages and components in the formation of the TDI
reinforces its multiple nature. Concerning the second source of the
model, taxonomies, the multiplicity of TDI is visible in the methodol-
ogical choice for measurement: considering multiple attributes
(organized into organic/induced or functional/psychological axes, for
instance) and the consequent use of multidimensional techniques.

The Relativistic Nature of the Concept. A concept is relativistic when

it is simultaneously subjective (changes from person to person) and
comparative (involves perceptions among various objects). The subjec-
tive character of image is universally acknowledged. Image always cor-
responds to an interiorization of some perceptions, and not everyone
has the same perceptions. Therefore, image is always subjective. As
such, TDI refers to perceptions of tourists in a destination and these
correspond to the perceived contribution of the different tourism ser-
vices to be found there: accommodation, food, transport, and more.
Additionally, some authors recognize a greater subjectivity in the tour-
ism encounter as opposed to other services (Calderón et al. 1998; Hol-
loway and Robinson 1995). All this means that some elements are
notably subjective, such as the residents’ attitude or the perceived
accessibility to the destination. Thus, the subjectivity of the TDI is struc-
tural in character (like every image), which is stressed due to greater
subjectivity of the tourism service encounter. Methodologically speak-
ing, the subjectivity of TDI has led to a substantial body of literature
around image and segmentation of the tourism market (Ahmed 1996;
Baloglu 1997; Crompton 1979; Dadgostar and Isotalo 1995; Fakeye and
Crompton 1991; Schroeder 1996; Sternquist Witter 1985).
The second idea that supports that TDI concept is relativistic is the
fact that image is a perception that normally refers to one particular
object as opposed to other objects. This relativism has invited a line
of research on positioning, this being the competitive and strategic
image (Ahmed 1991, 1996; Alford 1998; Calantone et al. 1989;
Crompton et al. 1992; Guthrie and Gale 1991; Haahti 1986). Taxo-
nomies undertaken also show the relativism feature: Table 3 contains

several studies that compare different subsamples and/or destinations,

and Figures 2 and 3 can facilitate a statistical procedure choice accord-
ing to a strategic purpose (MDS for positioning studies, t-tests to illus-
trate differences between samples, AF to reveal latent structures of
image, etc.).

The Dynamic Nature of the Concept. The idea of this last feature is
that image is not static but changes, depending essentially on two vari-
ables: time and space. This dynamic nature is greatly useful for market-
ing destinations in that each image is a manageable instrument. The
influence of time on image is relatively logical as its formation is a
process (Gunn 1972). There are works that have studied (Fesenmaier
and MacKay 1996; Selby and Morgan 1996) or empirically demon-
strated the influence of time on image (Chon 1991; Gartner 1986;
Gartner and Hunt 1987).
The influence of the space variable on image formation involves its
subjective character (affects where respondents are) and the circum-
stantiality of the image formation process, which means that no image
can be studied without a reference to the space variable. Crompton
(1979) studies the influence of the geographical location of subjects
with respect to the destination studied. Telisman-Kosuta (1989) affirms
the positive correlation between the consumer’s physical distance from
the destination and his/her level of perception of it. The greater the
distance, the greater the distortion of reality, and the shorter the dis-
tance, the greater the meaning of the details.
This statement is of great relevance to research into the attractive-
ness of a region or a destination for a non-distant public (Dadgostar
and Isotalo 1995). The circumstantiality with respect to space, together
with the subjective nature of the TDI concept, has favored a growing
body of research on the residents’ destination image (King 1994;
Schroeder 1996; Sternquist Witter 1985) as well as on their attitude
towards the industry in their region or country and their support of
the tourism activity (Getz 1994; Lawson, Williams, Young and Cossens
1998). These studies are tangentially useful for conceptualizing TDI,
given that the residents’ receptiveness is the most mentioned attribute
in the current review (Figure 1). Methodologically, the dynamic
character of TDI is shown by the use of comparisons tests to reveal
temporal or spatial influence on image formation.

Tourism destination image has been a worthy area of researchers’
investigation for nearly 30 years. Yet despite their importance and
interest, destination image studies have been criticized as atheoretical
and lacking a conceptual framework (Echtner and Ritchie 1993; Fak-
eye and Crompton 1991; Gartner 1996), even though significant recent
contributions such as Baloglu and McCleary (1999) are more compre-
hensive and valuable for theoretical understanding of TDI.
The very large number of previous studies on TDI, both theoretical
and empirical, gives the researcher interested in the topic what could

be called a ‘kaleidoscopic view’ of the construct, or a continuously

reduced and changing vision. Amid the multidimensionality of all tour-
ism studies, these visions of TDI are never general enough to offer a
global perspective; as with the image of tourism, generally it is difficult
to assume universal truths.
To rationalize this ‘kaleidoscopic view’, this review, critique, and cat-
egorization of previous studies was undertaken to orient the stream of
TDI research in a conceptual model. Several steps were followed. First,
from an intradisciplinary orientation of marketing, this paper offers a
review of topics from the extensive research line of destination images
and shows the importance of the conceptualization and measurement
of TDI. Second, following Mazanec’s structuring of image studies’ for-
mat around three dimensions (objects, subjects, and attributes), pre-
vious empirical measurements of TDI are organized in two figures.
Figure 1 lists attributes employed, in 25 image studies, to measure des-
tination image (compare with very similar findings in Echtner and Rit-
chie’s 1993 review): residents’ receptiveness and landscape and sur-
roundings are the attributes most studied. There is no significant
predominance of either functional or psychological attributes during
the period covered by the review (1979–99). Table 3 provides a tax-
onomy of the same 25 image studies, according to object (destination
types); and subject (respondents interviewed) variables. It has been
shown that the image of countries is investigated more often than any
other sort of destination. Also a substantial line of research into ima-
gery of cities is part of the growing interest in urban tourism
(Oppermann 1996a). In addition, the types of respondents in TDI
studies (subject variable), prove to be quite heterogeneous.
As to the measurement of the TDI, the review of empirical studies
presented in Figures 2 and 3 reveals the great diversity of statistical
methodologies. These are mostly combinations of multivariate and
bivariate techniques. High levels of mathematical complexity can
include a greater or lesser presence of qualitative techniques, generally
in the preliminary steps of the process. In fact, in spite of its usefulness,
there is a great complexity in measuring perceptions around a desti-
nation (Guthrie and Gale 1991; Hunt 1971), and the comparisons are
not always accurate (Driscoll et al. 1994).
The description of the nature of TDI based on previous literature
and on taxonomies undertaken by the authors is summed up in the
conceptual model presented in Figure 4. The construction of the
model demonstrates that four features identify and describe the image
construct: this nature is complex (it is not unequivocal), multiple (in
elements and processes), relativistic (subjective and generally
comparative), and dynamic (varying with the dimensions of time and
space). The importance of this construct for strategic destination man-
agement is shown: TDI is simultaneously a variable of analysis, action,
strategy, and tactics.
The utility and strength of this work derives essentially from the
review and discussion structuralizing the methodologies of previous
empirical destination image research. The taxonomies usefully
organize the thick stream of investigation and can help researchers

discover improved understanding of both the concept and the

measurement of TDI. Both areas of study (conceptualization and
measurement) should be more united: more theoretical analysis and
knowledge can help in accurately measuring TDI because what has
been scientifically perceived (that is, what has been measured) is bet-
ter known.
As limitations to the study, the lack of empirical evidence should be
mentioned. Further contributions could test hypotheses on TDI struc-
ture and on the relationship among features. Methodological pro-
cedure of reviewing could also be refined by identifying the role of
every tourism journal in understanding TDI: academic vs. practical
viewpoints, multidisciplinary vs intradisciplinary approaches, focus on
theoretical or empirical contributions, and more. For the density and
diversity of journals reviewed, many have concealed some relevant con-
tributions. Nevertheless, the proposed model is a valuable guideline
for both public and private tourism organizations: the four features
provide a managerial framework for analyzing and controlling the valu-
able tool of destination image. Focusing on one or other feature will
provide marketers with a more efficient management of tourism desti-
Acknowledgements—The authors would like to thank Prof. Eduardo Fayos-Sola for his
accurate commentary on the initial work.

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1991 Country Image: As Others see Us. In Seminar on Travel and Tourism:
Research Challenge, pp. 159–173. Dublin: ESOMAR.

Submitted 1 November 1999. Resubmitted 14 April 2000. Accepted 14 September 2000.

Final version 30 September 2000. Refereed anonymously. Coordinating Editor: William
C. Gartner