Analysis Of The Dimensions Of The Destination Image Of Bukovina’s Touristic Village

Abstract

This article aims to identify the dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village. In order to achieve this, we established three objectives. First, to identify the cognitive dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village; second, to identify the affective dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village, and third, to identify the conative dimensions of the aforementioned destination. Based on studying the scientific literature in this field, we suggested three main working hypotheses, and three secondary ones. In this article we performed quantitative research, and the used research method was the survey. The selected research instrument was the questionnaire, which was designed for online media via an internet platform. The dimensions of the destination image were measured via twenty three items, and the hypotheses were tested using SPSS. This study is part of a broader exploratory research carried out by the author for doctoral research. The overall goal of the exploratory research was to identify perceptions and expectations of tourists concerning the promotion of the Bukovina tourist village.

Keywords: Cognitive dimensionsconative dimensionsaffective dimensionsdestination image

Introduction

Bukovina is one of the main tourist regions of Romania due to its rich natural and human tourism potential. The "Beech Country" as it is called, Bukovina is an appreciated tourist destination, although not fully capitalized. Bukovina’s “ace up the sleeve” is the rural sector, next to its famous painted monasteries (Juravle, 1980; Juravle, 1982).

A large number of researchers argue that a better management of all the elements forming the phenomenon of tourism is required to ensure its success (Bornhorst, Ritchie, & Sheehan, 2010; Adeyinka-Ojo, Khoo-Lattimore, & Nair, 2014).

One of the elements that influence the course of the tourism phenomenon is the destination image. Previous studies have shown that in the process of choosing a destination for one’s next holiday, one of the factors influencing the decision is the destination image (Gartner, 1994; Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Chi & Qu, 2008; Greaves & Skinner, 2010). If people promoting a destination understand the development process of a destination image, they can create images appealing to the target audience (Gartner, 1994). In the process of destination image composition, there is an interdependence between the tourism promotion and the information sources available (Govers, Go & Kumar, 2007). Chi and Qu (2008) draw the attention of tourist destinations to the importance that must be granted, and the quality of products and services that are made available to tourists, because all these elements affect the satisfaction and the future behaviour intentions.

This article aims to identify the dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village. In order to achieve this, we established three objectives. First, to identify the cognitive dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village; second, to identify the affective dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village, and third, to identify the conative dimensions of the aforementioned destination.

This study is part of a broader exploratory research carried out by the author for doctoral research. The overall goal of the exploratory research was to identify perceptions and expectations of tourists concerning the promotion of the Bukovina tourist village (Juravle, Sasu, & Terec-Vlad, 2016).

Literature review

The image of the tourism destination has begun to be considered since the early 70s (Serna, Gerrikagoitia, & Alzua 2013; Zhou, 2014), and has since been studied extensively. A large number of researchers have studied this concept and multiple definitions have been assigned to the destination image.

Crompton (1979) defines the destination image as “the sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has of a destination”(Crompton, 1979, p.18), Assael (1984) defines it as “The total perception of the destination that is formed by processing information from various sources over time” (Assael, 1984, apud. Chen & Kerstetter, 1999, p.93; Cai, 2002) argues that the image of a destination brand represents “perceptions about the place as reflected by the associations held in tourist memory” (p.723). Tasci, Gartner and Cavusgil (2007) define the destination image as “an interactive system of thoughts, opinions, feelings, visualizations and interactions toward a destination” (p.200).

The destination image has a positive effect on the tourists' satisfaction and the loyalty towards the destination (Chi, & Qu, 2008), but the image of the destination must be true to the real identity of the destination (Govers, Go, & Kumar, 2007). If the „balanced encounter” between the host and the tourist does not take place, the effect will be a negative one, therefore the tourists will alter their perceived image according to the experience, and transmit it further (Govers, & Go, 2004).

The destination image can be measured differently, depending on the alternative selected by the author. However, previous studies have shown that in terms of identifying the image destination, there are preferences for the use of structured surveys, approaches based on mixed methods or, more recently, on information from blogs or websites (Serna, Gerrikagoitia, & Alzua, 2013). In their research, Chen and Kerstetter (1999) used 4 dimensions of the image of the destination: “tourism infrastructure”, “atmosphere”, “natural amenity” and “farm life”. Chi and Qu (2008) chose the version of 9 latent dimensions (travel environment, natural attractions, entertainment and events, historic attractions, infrastructure, accessibility, relaxation, outdoor activities, price and value) and each in turn has several attributes. Greaves and Skinner (2010) have identified the image of a touristic rural destination in UK through means of the cognitive and affective dimensions, with the help of functional, psychological and unique attributes. In this research, the respondents were given a series of words and images, and asked to select the ones that best fit the destination. Serna, Gerrikagoitia and Alzua (2013) identified the image of a tourist destination based on the user-generated data in the online environment. For his study, Zhou (2014) has selected the online image of a rural destination, using both the inductive approach and the deductive approach, and analyzing the cognitive and affective components. Chen, Lin, Gao and Kyle (2015) measured the destination image by five constructs: affective, conative, and 3 related to cognition: common image (6 items), the uniqueness of the image (5 items), the image related to the atmosphere (5 items).

Most scientists in the field agree with at least two components of the destination image: the cognitive and affective component (Greaves & Skinner, 2010; Serna, Gerrikagoitia, & Alzua, 2014).

According to Nadeau, Heslop, O'Reilly and Luk (2008) the conceptualization of the destination image is based increasingly upon the attitude theory. The difference between “image” and “attitude” is as follows: ’Images’ as opposed to ’attitudes’ must not contain judgments relating to objective, denotative evaluation criteria. The image construct implies some overriding impression or stereotype (Mazanec, & Schweiger, 1981 apud. Gartner, 1994). Based upon the theory of attitude, the conceptualization of the destination image is done by adding the cognitive, affective and conative image.

The cognitive component of the destination image is “the sum of beliefs and attitudes of an object leading to some internally accepted picture of its attributes” (Gartner, 1994, p.193).

In the design process of the measuring scale of the destination image, it is important to identify the characteristic dimensions of the selected destination (Chen et al., 2015). The uniqueness of the destination image must be perceived as “an important brand association to influence the image of a destination brand” (Qu, Kim, & Im, 2011, p.466).

In the scientific literature, there are a small number of articles focused on the rural destinations images (Zhou, 2014; Juravle, Sasu, & Bubăscu, 2015). As far as Bukovina is concerned, there are a few studies that analyse certain aspects of tourism. Aside from the main objective – identifying motivations for visiting Bukovina, in their research, Chașovschi, Hesselmann, Bordeianu and Buhac (2011) try to estimate the image of Bukovina, proposing six slogans and asking the tourists to rate them. The most appreciated slogans were “Bucovina – Land of Monasteries” (60.5%) and “Bucovina – Spirituality and Culture (36.7%)” (Chașovschi et al., 2011). So far, no studies have been conducted to identify the destination image of the Bukovina Tourist Village.

However, it is important to mention that a positive image and a high level of satisfaction doesn’t guarantee the tourists returning, since they are more and more interested in new experiences, and are looking for new destinations (Greaves & Skinner, 2010), but will recommend the destination to others and will share their experiences in the online environment.

Problem Statement

For this research, we proposed three primary hypotheses, and two secondary ones:

H.1 The cognitive and the affective component influence the conative component;

H.2 There is a correlation between the perception of the attributes of the cognitive dimension and the socio-demographic variables;

H2.1.The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, depending on their marital status;

H2.2 The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, depending on their educational level;

H.3 There is a correlation between the attribute of the cognitive dimension – the ease to reach Bukovina – and the attribute of the conative dimension – a good choice for the next vacation;

Research Questions

Which is the image of Bukovina?

Which is the cognitive image of Bukovina?

Which is the affective image of Bukovina?

Which is the conative image of Bukovina?

Purpose of the Study

This article aims to identify the dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village. In order to achieve this, we established three objectives. First, to identify the cognitive dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village; second, to identify the affective dimensions of the destination image of the Bukovina Touristic Village, and third, to identify the conative dimensions of the aforementioned destination.

Research Methods

In this article we performed quantitative research, and the used research method was the survey. The selected research instrument was the questionnaire, which was designed for online media via an internet platform. The dimensions of the destination image were measured via twenty three items, and the hypotheses were tested using SPSS (Jaba et al., 2009; Jaba, Botezat, & Balan, 2010)

Sample

The data were collected over a period of 17 days. In this research, we will process the data obtained from Romanian citizens, who filled in 50 surveys, of which 37 have been validated.

Of the 37 respondents, 75.7% were female (28) and 24.3 were male (9).

In terms of the home county, 8 respondents came from Cluj county, 4 came from Bucharest, 4 came from Iaşi and 4 from Sibiu, 3 came from Neamţ, 2 from Suceava and one from each of the counties: Arad, Bacău, Botoşani, Covasna, Dâmboviţa, Maramureş, Mureş, Prahova, Satu Mare, Sălaj and Vaslui. One respondent did not fill in the field assigned to the county.

43.2% of the respondents are post-graduates, 40.2% have a university degree, 8.1% have a PhD diploma and 8.1% are high school graduates.

Most of the respondents (19 people) were aged 26-30 years, followed by 31-40 years age segment (11 people). 4 respondents were aged 40 and 3 respondents were under 20 years old.

The marital status of the respondents was as follows: 62.2% of the respondents were married, 29.7% were unmarried and 8.1% are cohabiting.

The profile of respondents is important, because it influences the purchase behaviour, the perceptions, needs and expectations. (Chen & Kerstetter, 1999; Bick& Chiper, 2007; Apostu, 2012; Terec-Vlad, & Terec-Vlad, 2013; Apostu, 2013; Sasu & Sasu, 2015; Terec-Vlad, Trifu, & Terec-Vlad, 2015).

Tools

The questionnaire was designed for the online environment, using the platform provided by the website survegizmo.com.

The link to the questionnaire was sent via social network messaging to 40 people, and was linked to 2 groups, randomly selected from its database.

The data used in the present study correspond to Part III of the questionnaire, used for the exploratory research. There were used attributes taken and adapted by the research conducted by Chen and Kerstetter (1999), and after the study conducted by Peña, Jamilena and Molina (2012a; 2012b).

The cognitive, affective and conative dimensions the Bukovina tourist destination are measured through 23-items. Chen and Kerstetter (1999) used four types of cognitive dimension of the image, but for the present research, we used 3 of them (tourism infrastructure, atmosphere and natural amenity).

Findings

H 1. The cognitive and affective component influences the conative component (the recommendation and visit intention)

To measure the influence of the cognitive and the emotional component over the conative component. we independently estimated five simple linear regression models.

The measurement scale for the items defining the components are measured on a scale from 1 – Totally Agree to 5 – Songly disagree.

The results of the regression model that estimates the effect of the emotional component (model 1) indicates a low explanatory power of this component over the conative one. The determination report equals 5.7%, a value which indicates the proportion of variation of the dependent variable, explained by the independent variable.

Table 1 -
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The ANOVA results show a significance level of the Fisher test, higher than the assumed risk of 5%, leading to the rejection of the validity of the model 1. Given the individual testing of the significance of the regression model coefficients, we can state that there is no statistically significant influence of the emotional component over the conative component.

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The results of the regression model that estimates the effect of the overall cognitive component (model 2), suggests a significant effect of this component over the conative one. The independent variable explains 16.8% of the variation in the dependent variable.

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Table 5 -
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One can notice that a variation by one unit of the cognitive component leads to an increase by 0.568 of the conative component. The influence of the cognitive component is statistically significant (the Sig. value of the Student test is equal to 0.038 and the lower the risk taken by 5%).

Table 6 -
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We estimated one regression model to measure the effect of each dimension of the cognitive component (infrastructure. facilities. and atmosphere) over the conative component.

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Of the three regression models, one can notice that the dimension of the cognitive component which refers to the atmosphere, has a significant impact over the conative component (in Table 16 the Sig. value equals 0.023 and is lower the risk taken by 5%).

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One can notice that a variance by one unit of the cognitive component - Atmosphere leads to an increase of 0.677 of the conative component. The effect of the cognitive component – Atmosphere over the conative component is positive and statistically significant.

H2.1 The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, depending on the marital status thereof

To test the influence of the marital status over the cognitive perceptions, we applied the ANOVA procedure, at first on the totality of items that define the cognitive component, and subsequently on every dimension of the cognitive component.

Table 16 -
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The cognitive perceptions (overall and by dimensions) are more favourable in the case of married and cohabiting couples, compared to the unmarried people. There are significant differences of perception depending on the marital status, concerning the cognitive dimension which defines the infrastructure (Table 18 ). The Fisher test level of significance (Sig. = 0.047) is lower than the risk of 5%. The cognitive perceptions in the case of unmarried people are significantly poorer than those of the cohabiting people.

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Table 18 -
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Figure 1: Graphical representation of average scores for the cognitive perceptions based on the marital status
Graphical representation of average scores for the cognitive perceptions based on the marital status
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H2.2. The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, based on their educational level

The level of education has no significant influence over the cognitive perceptions, both overall and in the three dimensions, and the Fisher test significance level is higher than the threshold of 5%.

Table 19 -
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Table 20 -
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Figure 2: Graphical representation of average scores for the cognitive perceptions based upon the level of education
Graphical representation of average scores for the cognitive perceptions based upon the level of education
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H2. There is a correlation between the perception of the cognitive dimension attributes and the socio-demographic variables.

By applying the analysis of correlation, one can notice the lack of correlation between age and the average score that defines the overall cognitive component and the cognitive component by dimensions.

Table 21 -
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By applying the Student test for independent samples, one can notice that there are no significant differences between the perceptions of female tourists, and those of male tourists. Both for the cognitive component and the three dimensions, the average score of cognitive perception is higher for the female tourists, but this gender difference is not statistically significant.

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Table 23 -
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H3. There is a correlation between the cognitive dimension attribute (ease of getting to Bukovina), and the conative dimension attributes (appropriate choice for the next vacation).

To study the correlation between the ease of getting to Bukovina (the independent variable – X) and choice for the next vacation (the dependent variable – Y), we have estimated a simple linear regression model between the two variables.

The explanatory power of the model is very low, and the value of the determination ratio is also (0.4%).

Table 24 -
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Table 25 -
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The results from the ANOVA table (Table 26 ) and the estimated coefficients table (Table 27) indicate a weak and insignificant link between the two variables. We can state that the ease of getting to Bukovina has no significant influence over the choice destination for the next vacation.

Table 26 -
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Conclusion

The purpose of this research was to identify the image of the Bukovina Tourist Village as a destination. In order to achieve this, we aimed to achieve three objectives: identifying the cognitive, the affective and the conative images of the touristic Village.

The research method we used was the inquiry, and the instrument used was the survey. By using 23 items, we identified the cognitive, affective and conative images of the Bukovina tourist village. The 3 main hypotheses, and the two secondary ones were tested using SPSS.

On the validation of the research hypotheses, we can summarize the following results.

H 1. The cognitive and affective component influences the conative component

The hypothesis is partially validated because the statistical results show that there is a statistically significant influence on the emotional component over the conative component.

The influence of the cognitive component is statistically significant (Sig value. for the Student test is equal to 0.038 and is lower than the risk taken by 5%).

The dimension of the cognitive component, which refers to the atmosphere, has a significant impact over the conative component.

H2. There is a correlation between the perception over the cognitive dimension attributes and the socio-demographic variables.

H2.1 The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, based on their marital status;

H2.2 The cognitive perceptions differ among tourists, based on their educational level;

This hypothesis is partially validated because there are significant differences of perception depending on the marital status, concerning the cognitive dimension that defines the infrastructure. The cognitive perceptions in the case of unmarried people are significantly poorer than those of the people cohabitating.

The level of education has no significant influence upon the cognitive perceptions, overall and on the three dimensions.

The lack of correlation between the age and the average score that defines the cognitive component, overall and on the three dimensions, was noticed.

There are no significant differences between the female tourists’ perceptions and the perceptions of the male tourists. Both for the cognitive component and the three dimensions, the average score of cognitive perception is higher for the female tourists, but this gender difference is not statistically significant.

H3. There is a correlation between the cognitive dimension attribute – the ease to reach Bukovina, and attribute of the conative dimension - good choice for one’s next vacation.

The hypothesis is not validated, because the ease of reaching Bukovina has no significant influence on the choice destination for one’s next holiday.

Further studies should mainly focus on the rural regions of Bukovina, targeting all the dimensions of the touristic destination image, and the researches should be conducted on a considerably larger number of respondents.

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Juravle (Gavra)*, A. (2019). Analysis Of The Dimensions Of The Destination Image Of Bukovina’s Touristic Village. In A. Sandu, T. Ciulei, & A. Frunza (Eds.), Multidimensional Education and Professional Development: Ethical Values, vol 27. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 297-313). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2017.07.03.38