The purpose of this study is to compare and contrast the organic destination image of Kavos, as portrayed through irresponsible tourism-related behaviours on “reality” TV programmes, with its complex image according to members of the local community.
A thematic analysis was undertaken of four reality television programmes. This was compared with the qualitative data gathered from depth interviews.
The portrayal of tourism in Kavos focuses on only one narrow segment of young British high-season tourists. Thus, the destination image is unbalanced, neglects changing patterns of tourism throughout the year and neglects various other stakeholders in the destination’s image formation process.
A limitation of this study is that it explored reality television programmes that focused on Kavos and featured a younger demographic. Further studies could look to include a range of reality programmes from different geographic locations and, include other demographics.
A more holistic image, created and communicated by those responsible for managing the destination, could go some way to ameliorating the disparities between what is portrayed on reality television and what really happens in the resort.
Most media portrayal about Kavos focuses only on irresponsible tourist behaviours. This paper explores the physical and social aspects of place-making, an approach that thus becomes more inclusive of considering a place from the perspective of both its permanent and transient inhabitants.
By including in the authors’ data sources the under-researched phenomenon of reality television programmes, along with insights gained from members of the local community, this study makes a number of contributions to: the way destinations are theorised and conceptualised; and to the way tourism destinations with negative images may be approached both theoretically and in practice.
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