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Destination image has been explored by studying various aspects of the process of forming a perception about an area and choosing to visit or not. This study uses a variety of theories from previous research which has focused on subsets of factors which influence the overall process to create a model to organize the perception formation and decision making progress into one continuous and interrelated progression. Online questionnaires using Likert scale statements and questions were distributed to participants through Facebook in order to measure and test the model. A total of 266 questionnaires were completed and analyzed using t test, ANOVA, regression, factor analysis, and cluster analysis. The original model from the beginning of the study transformed with the removal of some variables and the alteration of others. The factors that were shown to influence perception of the destination were tourist type and knowledge of the country. Tourists who were more likely to seek new environments and had a higher level of knowledge of the country used in the marketing video had a better perception of the destination before and after the video. Obstacles for deciding to visit the destination were found to be long distances traveling and substitution of alternative destinations. The results show that marketing videos do create a positive change in the perception of the destination, but this alone is not likely enough to influence the decision to visit the destination. Marketing agencies should consider more ways of informing consumers of the destination in addition to commercials so that overall knowledge of the area can be improved. In addition, marketing agencies should target consumers that are interested in visiting new environments by using travel magazine subscriptions, international airline agencies and hotels, and social media groups.





A major barrier for tourism development in emerging countries is the misperception that a destination is unsafe to visit, but other barriers include that an area is unclean, lacks attractions, accommodations are of poor quality or that the local people are not welcoming to tourists. While reeducating people about the reality of a destination can help to create a more accurate picture of the location, it is not an easy task. This is because the public may not have information provided to them for many destinations or it is of a negative event that has captured the interest of a broadcast station. Even conflicts or events of a small scale can have a considerable impact on the image of a destination because of ease of communication and broadcasting. The media has the ability to magnify negative events, and in turn, give them their own meaning and interpretation (Hall, 2002). There are many variables that may be skewed in the eyes of the tourists and therefore it is difficult to determine which factors are the most distorted. Developing countries in general are seen to have commonly accepted risks, such as being poor, insecure, and underdeveloped, which creates a negative image of them (Martinez & Alvarez, 2010). In addition, when there is animosity towards a country from a previous event, the destination image is formed through affective components, not cognitive (Alvarez & Campo, 2014). This means that perceptions are formed based on emotions or feelings associated with the destination,instead of tangible or physicalcharacteristics.

Tourism has shown to be an effective tool to help developing countries diversify their income and generate extra revenue (Ashley, Goodwin, & Boyd, 2000; Babalola&Ajekigbe, 2007; Mitchell &Faal, 2007; Okumus, Okumus, &McKercher 2007; Rogerson, 2006; Spencely


& Goodwin, 2007; Stoddart&Rogerson, 2006). Many developing countries are in the process of growing their tourism industry, but one of its main challenges is attracting visitors. Many people tend to have a negative perception of developing countries, especially their safety, and therefore do not have any desire to visit. Failure of a tourism destination can be caused by negative misperceptions if they are not corrected. It is important for developing countries to discover how they are being viewed by foreigners, so that it can modify their image, which can subsequently attract more tourists in order to increase its revenue and improve upon its development.

Determining which factors are most commonly misperceived is imperative to correcting this situation. This study can help advance theoretical implications for the formation of perceptions toward tourism destinations and have a better understanding of the decision making process. Practical implications of this study include assisting researchers in finding effective ways to improve marketing campaigns to attract a larger amount of visitors to developing countries, which have more difficulties attracting tourists since they tend to be associated with more negative images compared to developed countries. Successful marketing agencies in the US spent $1.9-$13 million on advertising in 2013, but developing countries may not have access to this amount of money so it is important that promotions are created in a way to effectively bring in tourists to the country (Hennessey, 2014). With the large amount of money that is being spent on marketing it is important to evaluate whether this is changing their perception of the destination and truly influencing them to visit.

An improvement to the marketing techniques can be done by identifying which factors of the location tourists perceive as being negative and which characteristics are the strongest factors in changing the perception of a potential visitor. This would give tourism the opportunity togrow in developing countries, allowing for more jobs to become available and the economyto


improve. Perceptions of tourism destinations has been researched for many years to help destination managers improve their image in order to attract more tourists (Baloglu&McCleary, 1999; Beerli& Martin, 2004; del Bosque & Martin, 2008; Maser &Weiermair, 1998; Myers &Moncrief, 1978; Reisinger&Mavondo, 2005; Sonmez&Sirakaya, 2002; Um & Crompton, 1990; Van Raaij&Francken, 1984). However, these studies have a very narrow geographic focus, moved past destination image to destination choice, or combined tourist typology with destination image.

Previous studies on the perception of tourist destinations have found multiple outcomes related to this research. The threat to safety is a strong deterrent to taking a vacation, but this can change from one geographical region to another (Jonas, Manseld, Paz, &Potsman, 2011; Kozak, Crotts, & Law 2007; Lepp& Gibson, 2008). While the perception of risk is of high importance in the choice process, previous travel experience also has a strong influence on choosing a vacation destination (Sonmez&Graefe, 1998). These factors are important to build upon in continuing research and this study will combine multiple ideas that have been separately testedin pastresearch.

The purpose of this pre-experimental survey study is to test the theory of decision making and tourist typology to analyze the perception of a country and its impact to influence international tourists’ destination choice. The independent variable, which is the image of the countries, will be defined as the sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has, whether it is real or perception (Crompton, 1979). The specific independent variables of perception will include safety, attractions, infrastructure, levels of congestion, climate, affordability, hospitality, cultural difference, and geographic beauty. The dependent variable, destination choice, will be defined as an ultimate decision made among alternative vacation locations. Research will be


conducted by surveying American residents to examine the relationship between perceptions of three countries in three different continents, Nicaragua in South American, Malaysia in Asia, and Botswana in Africa, and how this influences the desire to travel to these destinations. This study will examine how a marketing video can change a consumer’s perception of a destination and determine the most influential factors that cause a positive perception of these three countries.

This will be done by having a participant fill out a questionnaire regarding their perception of the three countries. Then a short marketing video of the three destinations will be shown. The participant will then take another questionnaire about the perception of the countries after the video. This study will be examining two main research questions.

Research Questions and Hypotheses


Research question 1.What effect does the advertising intervention have on perception?


Hypothesis 1.The advertising intervention creates a positive change in perception towards a destination.

Hypothesis 2.Tourists that are considered “non-typical” will have a more positive change than “typical” tourists. “Typical” tourists are considered organized or individual mass tourists, while “non-typical” tourists are explorers or drifters. These terms are explained further in the literature review where the variables are described.

Hypothesis 3.The factors “safety” and “attractions” will have a more positive perception after the marketing intervention, compared tobefore.

Hypothesis 4.The factor “cultural difference” will have a more negative perception before the marketing intervention, compared toafter.

Hypothesis 5.Destinations which are farther away geographically and socio-culturally will have a greater positive change. This means that Malaysia and Botswana will have a greater


positive change in perception compared to Nicaragua.


Hypothesis 6.The perception of the destination before watching the marketing video is related to how knowledgeable or familiar the participant is with thecountry.

Hypothesis 7.The perception of the destination after watching the marketing video is related to how knowledgeable or familiar the participant is with thecountry.

Hypothesis 8.Demographic variables, such as age, gender, education level, and income level, will impact the perception about the destination before and after the video.

Research question 2.What effects destination choice?


Hypothesis 1.A positive perception after watching the marketing video will mean that the consumer will likely choose to visit the destination for the marketing video they watched.

Hypothesis 2.Personal constraints will have a significant impact on preventing a person to visit a destination.

Hypothesis 3.The desire to visit an alternative destination because of previous experiences there, instead of the one being marketed, will have a significant impact on participants choosing not to go to the marketed destination.

Hypothesis 4.The desire to visit an alternative destination because of the participant already having an idea of a destination that they want to go to, instead of the one being marketed, will have a significant impact on participants choosing not to go to the marketed destination.

Hypothesis 5.Hesitation because of lack of knowledge or not trusting information obtained will have a significant impact for the participant to not choose to visit the destination that was marketed.

Hypothesis 6.Tourist type will have a significant impact on destination choice. Tourists that are characterized as seeking new environments will be more likely to choose to visit the


destination that was marketed than those that seek a familiar environment.



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