An evaluation of tourism destination website quality and image projection effectiveness

Efthymiou, K 2012, An evaluation of tourism destination website quality and image projection effectiveness , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

The Internet has changed the way the tourism industry operates. It has provided potential tourists with an efficient way to gather information about destinations, to plan trips to the last detail and to make reservations from the comfort of their homes. It has also provided Destination Management Organisations (DMOs) with an effective communications medium and a new distribution channel. Tourism website quality is therefore a key issue. Whilst there is an increasing body of literature concerned with measuring website quality from a consumer perspective, the analysis of tourism website performance, particularly comparative analyses of competing tourism destination websites, has been neglected. Moreover, even though the importance of destination image in influencing tourist behaviour has received wide acknowledgement in the tourism literature, little research has been conducted on destination image projection via the Internet. This study addresses this gap in the literature by focussing on tourism website quality and destination image projection. It specifically deals with the measurement of tourism website quality from a user perspective and is concerned with the role of the website in tourism decisions regarding destination choice. The research examines the relationship between the quality of the tourism website experience, user satisfaction and future behavioural intention in relation to both tourism websites and their respective destinations. It does this through a comparative analysis of three European countries' official tourism websites, France, Spain and Croatia. The study assesses user perceptions of website attribute importance and performance. It also compares the websites in terms of the effectiveness of their destination image projection with respect to user word-of-mouth promotion and future visitation to both the site and the destination. As such, the study makes a contribution to tourism theory and destination marketing practice. A number of gaps were identified in the literature and these underpinned the Hypotheses. Hypothesis 1 states that consumer perceptions of the website will be significantly influenced by a) previous visits to the website, b) to the destination and c) consumer demographics. Hypothesis 2 states that competitor websites will significantly influence the consumer perceptions of the website. Hypothesis 3 states that the "performance - only" model of website quality will explain significantly more of the variance in perceived quality than the "importance - performance" model. Hypothesis 4 follows the established model of previous empirical research and proposes that perceived website quality will influence visitor satisfaction with the website. Hypothesis 5, in turn, proposes that perceived website quality will significantly influence consumer intention to a) recommend and b) visit or re/visit the website. Hypothesis 6 states that the perceived quality of the website will change consumer attitudes towards the destination in a positive way. Finally, Hypothesis 7 argues that the images of a destination found on the website will motivate consumers to visit or re/visit the destination. All hypotheses were supported. The findings confirmed that the Internet is the most popular way of findings tourism information, followed by word - of - mouth. The findings also demonstrated that the respondents showed a reluctance to visit the official tourism destination websites, preferring instead more objective websites. The respondents also showed a reluctance to book their holidays through the official tourism destination websites.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Schofield, P (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2021 11:16
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 21:56
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61367

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