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Residents as destination advocates: the role of attraction familiarity on destination image

Muhammet Kesgin (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA)
Rajendran S. Murthy (Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA)
Linden W. Pohland (Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA)

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights

ISSN: 2514-9792

Article publication date: 12 March 2019

Issue publication date: 16 April 2019

1158

Abstract

Purpose

Emphasizing the role of residents as destination advocates, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the influence of residents’ familiarity with, and, favorability of attractions on destination image.

Design/methodology/approach

A mixed methods research strategy was employed using 15 individual in-depth interviews and a survey questionnaire with a sample of n=364. The study utilizes an attraction familiarity index to classify respondents into four groups based on high, average, and low familiarity and examines the characteristics of each in the relationship between informational familiarity, experiential familiarity, and favorability and destination image.

Findings

The study reveals resident perceptions of attractions within the tourism product assembly framework and illustrates the positive relationship between the residents’ level of familiarity with, and favorability of visitor attractions and destination image. Further, the findings also demonstrate the significant role of demographic characteristics such as gender and length of residency in the area. The study findings suggest that temporary residents can function as destination advocates.

Research limitations/implications

Employees and students from a prominent northeastern university were sampled, representing local residents and temporary residents respectively. While appropriate and fairly representative of the target market for the research questions in this investigation, more work is required to replicate this study utilizing representative samples across different locations.

Practical implications

Evidence from the study indicates the importance of marketing to residents as they serve as destination advocates. In particular, the residents’ familiarity with and favorability of attractions is critical to positive destination image. The research offers insights into the identification of potential segments of residents that require special attention.

Originality/value

Limited existing research investigates the role of residents as destination advocates, especially in the context of destinations that lack a primary tourism attraction but have a well-balanced mix of attractions.

Keywords

Citation

Kesgin, M., Murthy, R.S. and Pohland, L.W. (2019), "Residents as destination advocates: the role of attraction familiarity on destination image", Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Insights, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 55-74. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHTI-06-2018-0034

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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