The aim of the paper is to develop a conceptual model of the process by means of which the induced tourism image of a destination is created. The model focuses on the role tourism agents' relational networks play in this process and particularly on the effects of the links with external actors – i.e. tour‐operators – on the destination's induced image.
Based on Gartner's definition of image formation agents, it is assumed that there are tourism agents that use the tourism image as a pull factor to influence the buying behaviour of potential visitors. Basically, these agents are: internal actors, located within a particular tourism destination, and external agents – i.e. tour‐operators – which are not normally associated with any particular destination, but have stakes in the travel decision process of potential visitors. In parallel, it is assumed that the tourism destination is a web of relational networks where the agents are connected by means of collaborative links that facilitate the supply of a tourist product or experience to the visitors.
In this paper two potential gaps in the induced tourism destination image formation process are found, and that the position of relevant actors in the network and the structure of the network are two determinant factors of the emergence – or inhibition – of these gaps. It is also suggested that these gaps and the lack of collaborative links among internal and external actors would affect the coherence of the supplied tourist products and the satisfaction with the tourist experience.
The relevance of the paper lies in a new approach to the induced tourism image formation process focusing on the destination's relational network and, in particular, the network of relations with external agents (i.e. tour‐operators).
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited