Dioko, L.(.A.N. (2016), "Editorial", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 10 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCTHR-11-2015-0137Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Guest editorial From: International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Volume 10, Issue 1
Leonardo (Don) A.N. Dioko
Leonardo (Don) A.N. Dioko is based at the Institute for Tourism Studies, Colina de Mong-ha, Macau.
This special issue on destination branding and marketing comprises several thought-provoking papers that were presented at the fifth meeting of the Destination Branding and Marketing Conference (DBM-V) which took place in Macau in December 2014. Like its precursors, DBM-V brought together a loyal and close-knit group of scholars, students and practitioners whose common research transect the fields of tourism, marketing and place branding. Hosted by the Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau (IFT) and co-organized with the University of South Carolina’s HRSM and the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, DBM-V was a milestone because it commemorated the conference series’ 10th year and reinforced the emergence of this particular field of study into what is now an essential element in the practice of marketing and managing tourist destinations.
The conference theme for DBM-V was “Building Enduring Place Brands” which, like those before it, endeavored to straddle theory development and practice. This theme drew upon the myriad challenges many destinations and communities now face in a moment-obsessed, social media-savvy world and where originality and lasting authenticity of place brands becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. The essential theoretical and practical challenge posed was: How can place brands last longer? What makes place brands enduring? The underlying assumption was that for destinations to overcome the ephemeral nature of tourism marketing and destination branding campaigns, they need to build on place-branding strategies that respect community identity and values but, at the same time, deliver lasting value and considerable impact principally but not only through the immense online media clutter and an instant-messaging culture that now pervade.
As often happens in open journal or conference calls, the submissions received for DBM-V proved to be more diverse and expansive than expected, with some advocating broader or narrower conceptions of enduring place brands or contending what the notion is from what it should be. Also, as often happens, editors get more than what they ask for and endure the unenviable task of having to sift through an eclectic mix of viewpoints, propositions and evidence presented to fit into a finite collection. Because, as earlier pointed out, the field is dynamically evolving, the challenge lies on how one should elect a study as being more relevant than another? Whose position on enduring destination brands should be featured in favor of a contrasting alternative, however marginal?
The papers in this special issue were chosen not only for the nature and quality of their inquiries, but also for their close connection to the meeting’s theme. More crucially, each article in this collection presents a divergent view on destination branding – the factors that nurture its emergence, the process leading to its effectiveness or lack thereof, as well as its effects on visitors, locals and destination actors including stakeholders. As a group, the articles do not purport to be “state-of-the-art” as many special issue editors or conference organizers often tout ad nauseam. Rather, they stimulate congruous or contradictory thoughts and provoke further questions even as they posit arguments or data to substantiate their ideas.
About the special issue
The issue begins with Mikulić, Miličević and Krešić’s (this issue) examination of the relationship between brand strength and tourism intensity across various capital cities in Europe, which they reveal to be strong and positive. Though their study is associative and not conclusive, it provides strong impetus for more rigorous examination of the putative relationship between cities and branding. The study also provides a good empirical starting point for the causes and effects of destination branding, which, the authors argue, is often absent in the destination branding narratives. The following paper, by Källström and Ekelund (this issue), challenges destination marketers and municipalities what concrete value they bring to residents – the primary stakeholders of places. They argue, using a service-based logic, that when destination officials first succeed in creating a good place to live for residents, branding efforts will subsequently succeed in attracting visitors.
The next three articles tackle the subject of destination image, an almost indefinable construct that, as pointed out earlier, has gravitated over time to become more closely intertwined with destination branding. Like two sides of one coin, it is difficult to discuss one without reference to the other. Zins and Lin’s intriguing study (this issue) looked at the differences between intended (planned) and projected (promoted) destination images in a respectable sample of prefectures across China. To accomplish this, they combed through official tourism planning development documents, distilled and compared these with images found in official marketing web sites. Their findings were striking in many ways but essentially showed how much intervening factors – systemic or otherwise – could create divergence between strategic brand planning and the resulting brand image, even under the control and influence of a single, albeit multi-layered, organization.
Zavattaro’s exploration (this issue) of managerial perceptions of place brand associations, elicited from destination management actors in three southern states in the USA, is as instructive as it is frustrating in its attempt to reveal the herculean struggles that DMO managers face in overcoming negative place associations of their states. While the study unveils a variety of other managerial issues that DMO managers confront, it makes an unshakeable lasting impression of the intermediate but pivotal role that DMO managers and actors play in shaping destination marketing and representation, a role affected, in turn, by their own beliefs, accessibility to resource, a sense of control and the effectiveness with which they carry out their task. It is a telling revelation for destination branding practitioners and scholars.
What follows is Kislali, Kavaratzis and Saren’s discussion (this issue) on the need to train our current thinking about destination image formation toward aspects that are often ignored or overlooked. They critique the exclusion of socio-cultural and more holistic perspectives in various destination image formation frameworks and appeal for a novel approach toward re-conceptualizing destination image and methods for researching it.
The last three articles in this special issue relate different sectors that can engender a destination’s brand in various ways. First, Gordin, Trabskaya and Zelenskaya (this issue) delve into the strategic influence of restaurants and the gastronomic sector in place branding. Because they have the potential to reflect local gastronomic tastes to visitors, hotel restaurants, the authors argue, act as important intermediaries in promoting and molding a destination’s overall brand image. They base their conclusion on observations conducted across six European cities. For their part, Sou, Vinnicombe and Leung (this issue) argue how a city’s cultural sector – in particular the performance arts sector – can be a vehicle for a city to change and broaden its destination image or re-brand an existing one. Grounding their discussion in the case of Macao, a city trying to diversify its tourism appeal beyond the long-held narrow and over-association it has with gaming activities, the authors contend that marketing efforts alone will not be sufficient to change entrenched beliefs and images of a place.
Capping this section and the entire special issue is Knott, Fyall and Jones’ in-depth account (this issue) of nation branding opportunities opened up as a result of hosting sport mega-events, such as what transpired in the case of South Africa which hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup, which became the focus of the authors’ systematic observation. Conducting in-depth and semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders and individuals in relevant fields of expertise and positions up to three years after the World Cup hosting, their study provides an extensive post hoc analysis long after the euphoria of hosting has disappeared and a more balanced and rational assessment of benefits as well as costs to South Africa’s nation brand can be drawn.
While each article in this collection can be read independently of the others, readers will be able to draw some common thread or structure apart from the one just outlined. Scholars, for example, might find the studies of Zins and Lin and that of Kislali, Kavaratzis and Saren provocative in questioning the oft-unpredictable outcome of planned destination branding and image efforts and confront the field’s persistent problem of whether a destination brand and image can be managed entirely. Practitioners will appreciate Zavattaro’s exposition of DMO managers’ perceptions and functional struggles as well as Källström and Ekelund’s dialogue with municipal officials in the context of creating value for residents and visitors. Policymakers will find the studies of Gordin, Trabskaya and Zelanskaya (on the role of gastronomic facilities); Sou, Vinnicombe and Leung (on the role of the performing arts); and Knott, Fyall and Jones (on the role of sport events) profitable in their consideration of finding ways to catalyze and stimulate destination the branding process.
It is remarkable that the majority of the studies curated within this collection utilize grounded and qualitative methodologies of inquiry, principally or in conjunction with more structured means. One might also note the predominant exploratory and tentative approach pursued by the studies herein. This is highly telling of the state of this highly absorbing field of study: That no paradigms are yet set in stone, that the field is dynamically evolving, that opportunities for investigation and furthering our knowledge remains open and wide and beckon for more intrepid researchers working collaboratively. It is an exciting time to study destination branding and challenges all who tackle it to persist because no results are preordained.
This special issue on destination branding and marketing would not have materialized without the foresight of Professor Andreas Zins, Chief Editor of this Journal, and his sagacious recognition that it is an appropriate time to take stock of this area of study, with which he has been intimately connected for years.
It goes without saying that without the authors and contributors, as well as the numerous reviewers who provided their time and critical thoughts, this special issue would not have taken the engaging and inviting shape that it finally took. Credit is, therefore, due to Ubaldino Couto, Elizabeth Cheng, Qi Shanshan, Ahmed Fattah, Veronica Lam and KS Chan of IFT Macau; Sunny Lee of the University of South Australia; Robert Li and Rich Harrill of the University of South Carolina; Rosária Pereira of the University of Algarve; Rita Peres of Estoril Higher Institute for Hotel and Tourism Studies; Fred Fang of National Taiwan Normal University; Ajay Aluri of West Virginia University; Björner, Emma of Stockholm University; Frederic Bouchon of Taylor’s University; Andrea Insch of the University of Otago; Amy So of the University of Macau; Robert Govers; and last but not least Felicitas Evangelista of the University of Western Sydney.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank my colleagues at the Institute for Tourism Studies and the IFT Tourism Research Centre (http://itrc.ift.edu.mo). Because of their generous and steadfast support, the DBM Conference series has blossomed over the years and, like the subject of its interest, is itself evolving into something more significant as a part of a larger, more integrated, global movement.
Finally, I thank you, the reader, for your interest in this field. Whatever your background or however circumstances brought you to reading this special issue, you are taking part in an exciting development. I hope you will continue to join us in this journey.