Open Access Article

Title: Do visitors gaze and reproduce what destination managers wish to commercialise? Perceived and projected image in the UNESCO World Heritage area 'West Norwegian Fjords'

Authors: Iratxe Landa Mata; Knut Fossgard; Jan Vidar Haukeland

Addresses: Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo, Norway ' University of Life Sciences in Norway, Universitetstunet 3, 1430 Ås, Norway ' Institute of Transport Economics, Oslo, Norway

Abstract: Destination image plays a key role in helping people decide where to travel and affects satisfaction, likelihood of return visits and word of mouth. While photography is not the only way of projecting and perceiving an image, 'a picture paints a thousand words'. The rise of social media and user-generated content has made the image formation process more complex, and has reduced the extent of control that tourism suppliers can exert on the image they wish to project. It is thus necessary to further investigate whether tourists reproduce the commercialised image in what the literature calls the 'hermeneutic circle of representation' or capture and share their own impressions. This study constructs a categorisation scheme for conducting photography-based image analysis to compare images of two Norwegian destinations as projected by destination management organisations with those shared by Instagram users (perceived image). Results indicate that this circle of representation is not hermeneutic.

Keywords: destination image; perceived-image; projected-image; circle of representation; user-generated-content; UGC; social media; Instagram; Nærøyfjord; Geirangerfjord.

DOI: 10.1504/IJDCET.2018.092205

International Journal of Digital Culture and Electronic Tourism, 2018 Vol.2 No.4, pp.294 - 321

Received: 30 Apr 2017
Accepted: 03 Nov 2017

Published online: 01 Jun 2018 *