Echtner features. The media plays a particularly important role

Echtner & Richie (1991, cited in Lopes, 2011) argue that the historical, socio-economic and political background shape the image of the country in the mind of travellers. A country’s image results from its geography, history, proclamations, art famous citizens and other features. The media plays a particularly important role in shaping people’s perceptions of places, especially those viewed negatively. Consumer products, as well as societal ills have been repeatedly and strongly associated with certain places. Different people and groups are likely to hold different stereotypes of nations since the mental phenomenon is inherently subjective. However, sometimes they are widespread and pervasive across elements of the same group or shared by members of a given society.

Additionally, the country of origin of the person influences the image of destinations (Bonn et al., 2005, cited in Lopes, 2011). Place of origin does not need to be built from scratch, because it already exists in the consumer’s mind, and has a de?nite shape and form. Findings consistently support that consumers pervasively use country-of-origin information as an indicator of quality. The simple manipulation of the country-of-origin or “Made in” label has been observed to in?uence people’s attitudes, even when subjects are given a chance to see, touch, feel or taste the very same physical product.

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Furthermore, the image of a destination is the outcome of different factors such as the recommendations and views of previous visitors, advertising campaigns via various channels (Echtner and Ritchie, 2003, cited in Lopes, 2011). In addition, potential customers have individually formed images about a tourist destination based on their own experiences. This image then will be influenced by the personal value system. This system will eventually influence the image that they develop of a tourist destination, by acting as a selective attention filter (Moutinho, 1987, cited in Lopes, 2011). Nevertheless, this perceived image often does not match the tourist destination’s reality (Andreu et al. 2001). Therefore, destination managers need to have a general understanding of their potential guests and their individual manners (Chen and Gursoy, 2001) since the overall development as well as continuous control of the tourism destination components is the responsibility of the DMO (Howie, 2003, cited in Lopes, 2011).

Changing the world’s perceptions of a place is neither easy nor quick. Its brand image has often evolved over many centuries, shaped by historic events, people, consumer products.  What destination managers can do is identify and isolate the positive existing perceptions of the country and enhance external communications, while downplaying those negative. The logic behind this approach is standard marketing practice: each place is competing for consumer attention alongside a million other in the media. Unless the appearance in the public domain continually and accurately reinforces coherent truths, it is highly unlikely that a homogeneous image will ever form itself in the consumer’s mind.

It is widely agreed that a positive image in the mind of the traveller leads to destination choice, high tourist satisfaction, pleasant on-site experience and customer loyalty (Lee and Lee, 2013, cited in Lopes, 2011). Consequently, understanding and measuring destination image have vital importance in developing effective marketing strategies for tourism destinations (Echtner & Ritchie, 2003, cited in Lopes, 2011).