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How Perception Affects Tourism In Thailand Tourism Essay

This chapter is aiming to give an overview of related theories and perceptions those affect to tourism industry. The review also includes the concept of beneficial image, the image of Thailand and heritage tourism and also provide concept which previously has been developed by different researchers who undertaking the research study in similar approach.

How Perception Affect Tourism

The term perception of the tourism industry is, generally, can be viewed in two aspects. The first one is the mental image created by marketing and media. Another aspect of image can be developed by the consumers. In general, the destination will market itself as much as possible in order to persuade the traveller to buy a trip there (Tuohino, 2002 cited from Henkel et al, 2006). Travellers go to the destination in order to consume the products, services and experiencing to those offering at the destination. Travellers will form their perceptions related to their expectation which are based on their former experience, friends, the internet, marketing and travel agent information (Kotkew, Bowen & Markens, 2006). Thus, if products or services in particular destination exceed traveller expectation, which means they are satisfied. On the other hand, travellers are dissatisfied when their expectations are not met (Mcdowall, 2010).

According to Crompton (1979), people travel for four different reasons: personal business travel; corporate business travel; visiting relatives and friends; and for pleasure vacation. Therefore, tourists have stereotypical image of different perception and travel locations, so it is important for tourism marketers to promote the destination image to increase the number of tourists (Sirgy & Su, 2000). Moreover, the individual’s cultural belonging and heritage does not only affect the way people experience and interpret the products and services supplied to them, but it also influence their decision making in regard to choices of vacations and destinations. Furthermore, customers have different perception and individual needs, which hold different values to a destination. The collection of customer information is a way to discover the customer needs and their values. Thus, customers benefit the destination in the way of customer’s tastes and preferences which can directly contribute to marketing new product and services in tourism industry (Reportforu, 2010).

Fakeye and Crompton (1991), has outlined the tourist’s image formation process (see Figure 1). It can be explained from this Figure that the consumer’s organic images and the induced image of tourist destination can be obtained from elsewhere, i.e. literature, friends or relatives. These messages play a significant role and influence the evaluation of alternative travel destinations and finally in making a decision about the destination they will visit (cited from Henkel et al, 2006). Hu & Ritchi (1993) stated that the more tourists think that the destination will satisfy their vacation desires, the more likely the visitors will choose the destinations.

Figure 1: Faye and Crompton’s Tourist’s Image Formation Process (Tuohino,2002).

Conceptualisation of beneficial image

It was described by the previous study on destination image that a destination’s image could contribute to the destination-making process. During this process, travelers build a destination image based on the informative and persuasive information such as friends, news and travel agency (Rittichainuwat, 2001). Thus, an effective destination image strategy will be very important in order to make the particular destination differentiation from other countries.

Cromton (1979) states that not all images can be influenced to traveler decision making process. The research examines the relationships between the attribute of a destination and decision-making process of tourists. Therefore, understanding the evaluative of destination characteristic image related to destination choice is needed in tourism marketing. Moreover, Kotler and Barich (1991) states that consumer will form an image based on benefit or value that they expect to get from those products or services. Sheth, Newman, and Gross (1991) suggested that marketing choice behavior is a multidimensional phenomenon involving multiple values: functional, social, emotional, epistemic, and conditional (see Appendix 1). The study also states that these seven important factors are influencing market choice behaviour.

Based on the theory and marketing image concept, the beneficial image model was developed by Tappachai and Waryszak is shown as below.

Figure 2: Beneficial image model (Tapachai & Waryszak, 2000)

Figure 2 shows traveller consumption values which are in the beneficial image model. These five consumption values including functional characteristic of the destinations, Social perception about the destination, emotional of traveller through the destination, epistemic of the destination which traveller can gain new experience from the destination and conditional such as accessibility to other countries that will help visitor to decide about their destinations. (Tapachai & Waryzak, 2000, cited from Henkel et al, 2006). By using Thailand as an example to describe the model above, Thailand’s functional values are fascinating bargain shopping, variety of food and beautiful scenery site. The social consumption will be a destination that suitable for all ages of people. The emotional value is about a place of to relax and calm. An epistemic value is a beautiful culture in Thailand and finally the conditional value is mainly about the location which traveller can easily access to other countries.

According to Echtner & Ritchie (1993), the destination image refers to attributes base or holistic (imagery), with each component containing functional (tangible) or psychological (intangible or abstract) characteristic ( Echtner & Ritchie, 1993). The attributes perspectives are including tourists’ perceptions through the characteristics of the vacation destination such as beautiful architecture and buildings, numerous cultural, historical attractions and psychological characteristic like safe place to visit and also friendly people. Moreover, the holistic perspective of the destination relates to destination image in terms of physical characteristic such as beaches, mountain, likewise the psychological are the destination’s atmosphere or mood (Echtner& Ritchie, 1993 cited from Henkel et al).

Rod Davies (2003) explained that every destination have its own brand image. Also, the factors like cost and convenience play an important role in decision-making of the destination. However, the strongest influence and motivator is the image of the tourism destination (Davies, 2003). Therefore, images are the brand identity which tourist can be perceived. In addition, images can be both increase and decrease the selection of the destination by traveller (Henkel et al). However, Bigne et al. (2001) argued that image is not only influences the destination choice, but also has an influence on the evaluation of the destination after the vacation. It can be explained that whether or not traveller will return to the destination (Bigne et al, 2001 cited from Henkel et al). Moreover, a high positive image of particular destination is more likely to be chosen by tourist in the process of decision-making (Echtner & Ritchie, 1993). In conclusion, image play an important role for tourist satisfaction and the preconceive image of destination will influence tourist decision on their vacation destination.

The image of Thailand

Destination image can be both positive and negative image, if two destinations have almost offering the same characteristics for traveller perception. Therefore, the more positive image of a destination place, the more likely that traveler will go there (Rittichainuwat, 2001).

Thailand is not only positioning as a “land of smile” as a result of friendly people and a safe place destination, but also considerable as cultural, natural and historical attractions. Due to the study of Yau and Chan on the image of Southeast Asian, Thailand has been perceived as a reasonable price, beautiful beaches and various attractions (Rittichainuwat, 2001). In addition, Tapachai & Waryszak conduct a study about benefit image characteristic of Thailand and grouped the results of research showed that the functional attributes of cheap shopping, variety of food, friendly people and historical sites as well as the epistemic attribute of experiencing rich culture in Thailand (Henkel et al, 2006). Furthermore, the research between Tourism Authority in Thailand (TAT) and Siam University showed the result that there was a positive image as a natural and historical travel destination (Henkel et al., 2006). This positive image can be reflected by the award winning destination from different countries, for example, International Tourisms Bourse Berlin (ITB), awarded the four go Asia Awards honouring best service provides for travel to Asia in 2010, the Swedish grand travel award has ranked Thailand as the “World Best Tourist Country”

However, Thailand has also suffered from a negative image because of prostitution, pollution which led to the decline of tourist attractions (Rittichainuwat et al., 2001). Prideaux et al. (2004) has also stated that the image of Thailand is an erotic destination. In addition, the image of Thailand also related to international news coverage by saying that Thailand is a place of prostitution. These negative images can, obviously, affect visitors and might make them do not want to visit Thailand. This also leads to the cause of some health and moral issues in Thailand (Henkel et al., 2001). However, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) never promotes Thailand as a sex tourism destination (Prideaux et al., 2004). Suwanmoli’s study about international media coverage of prostitution in Thailand, the result found that foreign reporters usually report the negative side such AIDS and prostitution because this kind of news very easily get attention from publics. Moreover, Suwanmoli explained that there are a high number of as many as 2.8 million prostitutes working in Thailand (Rittichainuwat, 2001). Therefore, the government should be concerned of this issue in order to minimize the pandemic deceases and prostitution. Alternatively, Thai government must actively seek to reduce the images of negative such as sex tourism through positive image marketing of other tourism products and trying to decrease the illegal activities such as prostitution within the country (Henkel et al, 2006).

Finally, Thailand’s image has suffered from a declination of tourist attractions, pollution, traffic jam, lack of new tourist attractions and the image of sex tourism. Additionally, Ahmed states that “once a negative image is established in the minds of potential travelers, even a full range of marketing activities cannot entirely reverse it”. Thus, Marketers only able to do little to eliminate the negative image. In contrast, marketer can offset the negative perception by creating positive images through promotional strategies, including advertising, arranging the events, and hosting international conventions and exhibitions (Rittichainuwat, 2001).

Heritage Tourism

The vast majority of literature on heritage, apart from the philosophical and intellectual, has concerned itself with heritage tourism, a sector that has grown globally and also created the revenue and employment for “undeveloped countries” (Misiura, 2006). According to The World Tourism Organisation (1992) defines heritage tourism as “an immersion in the natural history, human heritage, arts, philosophy and intuitions of another region or country” (Laws & Pan, 2004). Moreover, Rowan and Baram (2004) describe heritage tourism as a consumerist phenomenon and hence marketing of this phenomenon is bound to be driven by capitalist tendencies. (cited from Chabra, 2009). Thus, the core of heritage marketing is to find out what the customer want and deliver it. Particularly, in relation to built environment, i.e., the marketing activity should be design to stimulate demand and satisfy the customer but not to the detriment of that which needs to preserves for future generation (Misiura, 2006, p.2).

Yale (1991), explains that the heritage tourism is a centred on what we inherited from “historic buildings, to art works, to beautiful scenery”. Ashworth’s (2000) defined the “comodification” and the “past” in heritage tourism which is based on the commoditized, building, memories and experiences of the past (cited from Grace Yan et al). From the demand aspect, the heritage tourism is about finding something which is linking between the present and the past and traveller emotional experiences (Richards 1997 and Prentice 1993). However, Poria et al. (2001) argued that the relationship of heritage tourism should be based on the individual and the heritage presented rather than on specific site attributes. In addition, they described heritage tourism as “a subgroup of tourism, in which the main motivation for visiting a site is based on the place’s heritage characteristics according to tourists’ perception of their own heritage” (Poria et al., 2001, p. 1048). Also, in order to combined both supply and demand by explaining that “heritage tourism relies on the strength of both the push and pull factors of the resources located in area in order to appeal to the potential tourists” (Apostolakis (2003, p. 800) Cited from Grace Yan et al).

Heritage visitor, try to find the different benefits from trips.. Poria et al. (2004) pointed out that the reasons for visiting heritage sites for travellers can be grouped places in to three categories which are under the headings of “heritage experience”, “learning”. These explain that there are people with a strong interest in “emotionally involved” with a “sense of belonging to the site”. In contrast, for some tourists, heritage tourism is more than an educational or recreational experience. This further suggested by Martin et al. (2004, p.131), “determining the potential of heritage tourism and the possible impact and the marketing direction needed to attract these visitors will be less speculative if the nature of the tourist is better understood”

World Heritage is the programme administered by the UNESCO, the programme aims to catalogue, name, and conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity and to raise awareness of how to maintain the sites to last for future generations of humanity (Thaiwh, 2010). In Thailand, there are World Heritage sites of Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Kamphaengphet provinces. There are rich heritage and magnificent architecture that make them as The World Heritage sites which are listed in 1991 by UNESCO (UNESCO, 1992).

Therefore, the marketing of heritage, especially heritage tourism will contribute the benefit in order to serve the products and services to customers relate to those World heritage sites in Thailand. It can be seen that strategic planning has been used within many organizations. The successful travel and tourism must not only understand who the customers are but also know how to market them in order to satisfy the needs of their customers. In addition, tourism organisations should identify group of customers with homogeneous characteristics and behaviors and try to adapt their offer to the unique needs and desires of the segment members. Heritage marketing, therefore, is both management philosophy and as set of business techniques. It is very important to recognise that the management of tourism will be ineffective without an understanding of the way tourists consumers make decisions and act in relation to the consumption of tourism products. This research not only provides an opportunity for people to fulfill their individual needs, but exceeding their expectations and ensuring that it benefits greatly toward the World Heritage sites in Thailand (Reportforu, 2010).

Conclusion

The literature reviewed has provided general information about the perception of the tourists through the image of Thailand and Thailand’s image dimensions. However, the review has also identified both positive and negative image which affected to tourists’ destination choice. It is worth noting that the concepts described in previous articles, journals and text book, are pertaining and believed to have a direct effect on to the research model which is proposed in the current investigation. Therefore, the proposed research model and hypotheses formulation will be discussed in following chapter.


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