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    Stepchenkova morrisontm revisitingechtner Stepchenkova morrisontm revisitingechtner Document Transcript

    • ARTICLE IN PRESS Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] www.elsevier.com/locate/tourman Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and Ritchie Svetlana Stepchenkovaa, Alastair M. Morrisonb,Ã a Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, 154 Stone Hall, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA b Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, 111A Stone Hall, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA Received 23 May 2006; received in revised form 8 June 2007; accepted 13 June 2007 Abstract This study measured Russia’s destination image among US pleasure travelers by the means of a Web-based survey. The methodology proposed by Echtner and Ritchie [(1993). The measurement of destination image: An empirical assessment. Journal of Travel Research, 31(Spring), 3–13] was enriched by using a combination of two software programs, CATPAC and WORDER, to analyze responses to open-ended questions about stereotypical holistic, affective, and uniqueness images and facilitate statistical comparisons of images between visitors and non-visitors to Russia. A favorability variable was operationalized on the textual data, and affective images of visitors and non-visitors to Russia were statistically compared. The study found that American travelers’ perceptions of Russia were often negative and there is a lack of awareness about Russia’s destination features. Marketing implications for Russia’s Federal Travel Agency based on the study results are discussed. r 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Keywords: Affective image; CATPAC; Content analysis; Destination image; Russia; Stereotypical holistic image; Uniqueness image; WORDER 1. Introduction areas, complicated visa procedures, rising prices for tour packages, and lack of advertising. To realize its tourism Russia is a vast country with rich tourist resources of all potential, the country needs not only to solve the above- kinds. They include unique natural features, beautiful mentioned problems but also to attractively present itself landscapes, historical and cultural attractions, places of to international travelers. To become a competitive global ethnographic interest, and good recreational opportunities. destination, the Federal Tourism Agency of Russian However, while Russian outbound and internal tourism Federation (FTA) needs to develop Brand Russia which have been growing rapidly, inbound tourism is growing would firmly position the country among the competitive slowly and for the several years has been suffering from destinations of Eastern Europe and Asia. Given the size of political instability associated with terrorist activity in the US tourist market and the fact that US pleasure Russia; therefore, income from international tourism is a travelers are the world’s leading travel spenders (WTO, small share of Russia’s overall economy (Russia’s State 2006a), this segment is very attractive for the Russian Statistics Service (Rosstat), 2006). Since the 1990s, Russia tourism industry from an economic standpoint. has been successfully developing its tourist offer; never- To be successfully promoted in a particular market, ‘‘a theless, some problems still remain. Among the factors that destination must be favorably differentiated from its prevent faster growth of Russia’s inbound tourism are a competition, or positively positioned, in the minds of the lack of infrastructure, especially in the country’s eastern consumers’’ (Echtner & Ritchie, 2003, p. 37). A desirable differentiation and positioning can be achieved by a ÃCorresponding author. Tel.: +1 765 494 7905; fax: +1 765 496 1168. destination’s marketing organization by creating and E-mail addresses: svetlana@purdue.edu (S. Stepchenkova), managing the perceptions, or images, that potential alastair@purdue.edu (A.M. Morrison). travelers hold about the destination. Therefore, the purpose 0261-5177/$ - see front matter r 2007 Published by Elsevier Ltd. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003 Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 2 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] of this study was to examine Russia’s destination image 2004). Strong support for cognitive interpretation of image among US pleasure travelers by investigating the following as a set of relevant attributes is given by Gensch (1978): questions: ‘‘Products seldom are measured or evaluated as single lump sum entities; rather, it is the attributes of the alternatives 1. What stereotypical holistic images do US pleasure that are measured, compared, and form the basis for travelers associate with Russia? choice’’ (cited in Gartner, 1986, p. 636). This view was 2. What affective images does Russia as a travel destina- further supported by Engel, Blackwell, and Miniard (1986), tion evoke? who stated that image is the consumer’s subjective 3. What unique places and features do US pleasure perceptions, which refer to how an alternative performs travelers associate with Russia? on important evaluative criteria. 4. What are US pleasure travelers’ perceptions of Russia’s Social and environmental psychological tradition re- destination attributes? gards cognition and affect as interrelated elements, where 5. Does the degree of familiarity with Russia (visitors/ affect is largely dependent on cognition (references to this non-visitors) affect the destination image of Russia? view can be found in Baloglu & McCleary, 1999). However, Russell and Snodgrass (1987, p. 246) argued The lack of information is evident: a destination image that ‘‘behavior may be influenced by the (estimated, literature review conducted by Pike (2002) for the period of perceived, or remembered) affective quality of an environ- 1973–2000 found that only one out of 142 articles had dealt ment rather than by its objective properties directly’’. The with Russia’s image, and this study by Pizam, Jafari, and affective component of destination image expresses feelings Milman (1991) reflected the old, ‘‘Soviet’’ image of the toward a destination, which can be favorable, unfavorable, country. The analysis of Russia’s destination image as held or neutral. Gartner (1993) suggested that the affective by US pleasure travelers should be useful to both the FTA component comes into play at the stage when different and Russian travel providers, to see how Russia is travel alternatives are evaluated. Furthermore, there are perceived by one of the largest tourist markets in the recent indications that emotions might be better predictors world, and to counter negative or inaccurate perceptions of of behavior than perceptual evaluations (Yu & Dean, potential visitors. 2001). Despite its obvious importance, affect has generally been overlooked by destination image researchers: only six 2. Study background out of 142 studies surveyed by Pike (2002) studied affective images. 2.1. Destination image construct Gartner (1993), Pike and Ryan (2004), and White (2004) among other scholars, also recognized a third—conative or The concept of ‘‘image’’ that has been studied for several behavioral—element in the destination image construct, decades in such disciplines as social and environmental which is related to how travelers act toward a destination psychology, marketing, and consumer behavior, was on the basis of the cognition and affect they have about it. introduced into tourism studies in the early 1970s by Hunt Conation reflects a likelihood of destination selection, or (1971), Mayo (1973), and Gunn (1972) and has since brand purchase, and can be interpreted as a propensity to become one of the most researched topics in the field. visit a destination within a certain time frame (Pike & However, as meta-analyses of destination image studies Ryan, 2004). The conative element of destination image is indicated (Chon, 1990; Gallarza, Saura, & Garcia, 2002; influenced by both the cognitive and affective components. White, 2004), due to its complexity, subjectivity, and Familiarity plays an important role in destination image elusive nature, the concept of destination image has been formation. It influences destination perceptions and interpreted differently by various researchers. The view on attractiveness and represents a key marketing variable in destination image as an overall impression is rooted in segmenting and targeting potential visitors (Baloglu, 2001). psychological tradition and consumer behavior theory Familiarity can be understood as previous experience with (Assael, 1984; Herzog, 1963) and was supported by Hunt a destination (experience dimension) and knowledge about (1971) and Reilly (1990). However, operationalization of it (informational dimension). One stream of research on the destination image construct without breaking it into familiarity and destination image compares pre- and post- separate, more evaluative elements is problematic. Tourism visitation destination images. Phelps (1986) recognized scholars generally agree that destination image holds at secondary destination images, as formed by travelers’ least two distinctive components—cognitive and affective exposure to different information sources, and primary (Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997; Baloglu & McCleary, 1999). images, which are created after actual visitation. Her The cognitive, or perceptual, element refers to knowledge research, as well as the studies done by Pearce (1982), Chon and beliefs about a destination, while the affective element (1991), and Dann (1996), suggested that visitation affects refers to feelings about a destination. images and changes some of the perceptions about a Despite the composite nature of the destination image destination. Post-visitor perceptions were found to be more construct, in most destination image studies researchers positive than those of pre-visitors. However, there are have emphasized the cognitive dimension (Pike & Ryan, indications that a relationship between visitation and Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 3 destination images is more complicated. Pizam et al. (1991) Altogether, the holistic component is positioned as a studied pre- and post-images of a group of US students who mental picture, or overall representation, of the destina- visited the Soviet Union, and found that, basically, the tion, and, as such, resembles the overall component of the images stayed the same. The other stream of research destination image. The holistic component is important for determined how destination images differed between visitors understanding how a particular destination is categorized and non-visitors (Ahmed, 1991; Chon, 1991; Milman & in the minds of consumers, and what prevailing images and Pizam, 1995) or non-visitors, first-timers and repeat visitors stereotypes are associated with a given destination. In the (Fakeye & Crompton, 1991). Images of visitors tend to be following sections of this article, images derived from the more favorable; however, no significant differences were answers to these two questions are referred to as found between perceptions of first-time and repeat visitors. ‘‘stereotypical’’ and ‘‘affective’’, respectively. The unique- This suggested that most changes in destination image occur ness dimension is assessed by the item: during the first visitation. Therefore Hypothesis 1 was formulated to answer research question 5:  ‘‘Please list any distinctive or unique tourist attractions Hypothesis 1. ‘‘US residents who have visited Russia have that you can think of in _______’’. more favorable images of the destination than those who have not’’. This component is very important for differentiating a destination from a competitive set of destinations, and will 2.2. Conceptualization by Echtner and Ritchie (1991) be further referred to as the ‘‘uniqueness image’’. Thus, Echtner’s and Ritchie’s approach lies within the In the whole body of destination image studies, Echtner cognitive-affective-overall image tradition and is consistent and Ritchie (1991, p. 11) proposed a somewhat unique with MacKay’s and Fesenmaier’s (1997, p. 538) view that conceptualization of the destination image construct based ‘‘a destination image is a composite of various products on an extensive review of the literature on destination (attractions) and attributes woven into a total impression’’. image research for the period of 1975–1990: Echtner and Ritchie (1993) suggested a conceptual frame- work for operationalization of all specified components of  ‘‘Destination image should be envisioned as consisting destination image, as well as proposed a convenient of two main components; those that are attribute-based format for visual representation of image components. In and those that are holistic. designing the scale for measuring the attribute-based  Each of these components of destination image contains items, Echtner and Ritchie followed the framework functional, or more tangible, and psychological, or more proposed by Churchill (1979) for marketing studies. Steps abstract, characteristics. such as specifying the domain of the image construct,  Images of destinations can also range from those based generating a sample of items, purifying the measures using on ‘‘common’’ functional and psychological traits to Cronbach’s alpha as an indicator, and iterative factor those based on more distinctive or even unique features, analysis were conducted. Thus, the issues of content events, feelings or auras’’. validity, dimensionality, and internal consistency reliability (Peter, 1979) of the proposed scale were addressed by the The attribute-based component is captured by a series of researchers. scale items that range from tangible, or functional (beaches, shops, sports facilities, etc.), to more intangible, 3. Methodology or psychological (receptiveness of local people, quality of service, etc.). These attributes also represent a common 3.1. Destination image measurement dimension of a destination, since every destination can be evaluated on the basis of these general criteria. The holistic The composite nature of the destination image construct component is captured by two open-ended items (Echtner presents great challenges for its measurement. Strong & Ritchie, 1991, p. 11): preference has been given to structured methods when data were obtained as answers to close-ended survey  ‘‘What images or characteristics come to mind when you questions (Pike, 2002). While structured methodologies think of _______ as a travel destination? have a number of advantages over qualitative methods,  How would you describe the atmosphere or mood that they focus on particular destination attributes and gen- you would expect to experience while visiting _______?’’ erally neglect the holistic aspect of destination image. Qualitative studies, on the contrary, are helpful in The first question is functional, while the second one is measuring the holistic aspect, but do not facilitate more psychologically oriented. Responses to the second statistical and comparative analyses of destination images item include affective evaluations, such as exciting, (Jenkins, 1999). Echtner and Ritchie’s (1993) methodology relaxing, boring, etc., and, therefore, resemble the Baloglu framework provided a much needed balance between and Brinberg (1997) affective component (White, 2004). quantitative and qualitative aspects of image measurement. Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 4 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] This research closely followed the methodology suggested misspellings, synonyms, and multi-word concepts have to by Echtner and Ritchie (1993) with regard to the be taken into account (Woelfel, 1998); however, the necessary quantitative analysis of the destination image, and took changes should concern only the meaningful words, or image their approach a step further with respect to the qualitative variables in our case. WORDER has a built-in function that image assessment. It is not the purpose of this study to allows making changes in the data by means of the input provide an extended literature review of the qualitative table, simultaneously with the counting process. The details methods that have been employed in the analysis of of the CATPAC-WORDER approach can be found in destination images—an extensive overview can be found Stepchenkova, Kirilenko, and Morrison (2006). in Ryan and Cave (2005). However, it should be noted that The computer-assisted approach employed in this study content analysis of textual and/or pictorial materials by for content analysis of textual responses to three image Reilly (1990), Echtner and Ritchie (1993), Dann (1996), questions (stereotypical, affective, and uniqueness) provides MacKay and Fesenmaier (1997), Andsager and Drzewiecka a more detailed assessment of destination image and (2002), Echtner (2002), and Ryan and Cave (2005), among facilitates statistical comparisons of images among different others, employed sorting and categorization techniques to groups of respondents, thus enriching the destination image identify the frequencies of certain words, concepts, objects, measurement methodology proposed by Echtner and or people, and treated the most frequent ones as image Ritchie (1993). The application of CATPAC-WORDER variables. The final set of image variables can contain software combination discussed above and a way to nouns, verbs, and descriptors (i.e., adjectives and adverbs), compare favorability of affective images in order to test since nouns are used to focus attention on attractions (e.g., Hypothesis 1 discussed in Section 4.2 is considered a museums, Lake Baikal), verbs describe actions or tourism contribution of this study from the methodology standpoint. types (e.g., rafting, sightseeing), and descriptors (e.g., ancient, exciting) create atmosphere (Echtner, 2002). The 3.2. Research instrument analysis can be computer-assisted (e.g., Ryan & Cave, 2005) The original questionnaire (Echtner, 1991), with two items or done by hand, and identified image variables are then for each of 35 attributes, was obtained. It was decided to use often placed on a plane or a line along specified dimensions only one item per attribute for this study. Two attributes, to provide image visualization (Echtner & Ritchie, 1993). namely, degree of urbanization and extent of commercializa- The large volume of textual data in qualitative studies tion were thought to be better applicable to small destinations and the repetitiveness of the task made the computer a and were excluded. An accommodation/restaurants attribute natural and powerful choice for content analysis despite was split into two separate items, since accommodation the fact that not all nuances of the language can be shortage is a known problem for the Russian tourist sector, recognized by any given software program (Alexa & Zuell, but the situation is much better with restaurants. 2000). For content analysis of open-ended questions, this Prior to this research, the authors conducted two study used a combination of two software programs, exploratory studies to gain insights into induced and CATPAC (Woelfel, 1998) and WORDER (Kirilenko, organic aspects of Russia’s destination image (Stepchen- 2004) in order to answer research questions 1, 2, 3 and 5 kova, Chen, & Morrison, 2007; Stepchenkova & Morrison, and test Hypothesis 1 not only on attribute-based items but 2006). In addition, five travel professionals and seven on textual responses as well. CATPAC has been employed ‘ordinary’ people were asked to provide answers to the for more than a decade in content analysis of political three Echtner’s and Ritchie’s open-ended questions on speeches, focus group interviews, marketing studies, and Russia’s image. As a result of these prior efforts, seven destination images to ‘‘identify the most important words Russia-specific attributes (cruises, combined trips, non- in a text and determine patterns of similarity based on the capital Russia, fishing and hunting, unique natural way they are used in text’’ (Woelfel, 1998, p. 11) and also resources, Trans-Siberian railroad, and arts) were added because of its strong visualization capabilities. However, to the questionnaire. Three general attributes—namely, CATPAC analyzes only one textual file at a time. good quality food, chance to see how people really live, and WORDER software was developed to process in one run knowing something of a country’s history—were also up to 1000 files of similar type (e.g., survey responses, included in the survey with the phrasing taking from newspaper articles, etc.) and count the number of specified Crompton (1977) for a research purpose which is not key words/image variables in every one of them. Ultimately, explained in this article due to a space constraint. To the approach used in this study allows: (1) identification ensure clarity of the survey instrument, the phrasing of of destination image variables in digital textual data using attribute items was borrowed, when possible, from Echtner CATPAC, and (2) counting the occurrences of these (1991) and tested in July 2005 by a group of graduate variables in every textual survey response with WORDER. students from a large Midwestern university. The result is a two-dimensional data matrix, which can be easily transferred into any statistical package for further 3.3. Population and data collection statistical analysis and clustering purposes. Normally, a laborious ‘‘smoothing out’’ procedure The survey population came from one of the America’s should be performed on the textual data prior to analysis: oldest and largest private travel clubs (further referenced as Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 5 ATC), serving tens of thousands of families in many states Overall, the open-ended questions produced fewer ($75 000 members, 30 000 households, predominantly in responses than the attribute statements: question Q1 about the Midwest) at the time when the study was conducted. stereotypical image (What images or characteristics come ATC members with Internet access (about 20 000) were the to mind when you think of Russia as a travel destina- sample frame for this research, and a random sample of tion?)—316; question Q2 about affective image (How 5000 e-mail addresses was selected from the ATC database. would you describe the atmosphere or mood that you These people were sent an e-mail from the ATC manage- would expect to experience while visiting Russia?)—313; ment team with the request to take part in the study. and question Q3 about uniqueness image (Please list The data were collected during three weeks in July–August any distinctive or unique tourist attractions that you 2005. One hundred and eighty-nine responses were can think of in Russia.)—273. Eleven respondents obtained in the first round. A follow-up letter was sent chose to give the same answers to questions Q1 and Q2 a week later, and 148 responses were collected in the or Q1 and Q3, putting in the answer field ‘‘See above’’, second round. There were no differences between the 1st ‘‘Same as #1’’, or ‘‘See #1’’, and substitutions were made as and 2nd round respondents for all the demographic indicated. A certain percentage of respondents chose not to variables, except income. The aggregated profile of the submit some of the demographic data; predictably, the respondents is given in Table 1. The total number of highest number of refusals was for the income question Russia’s Destination Image Survey Website hits was (14.6%). There were a number of responses that contained 503, the total number of submitted responses was 341, missing values for one or a few attributes; however, the the number of usable responses was 337. These IP number of missing entries was small relative to the addresses were checked to ensure that there were no sample size, and the responses with missing entries were double entries. kept in the data. Table 1 Respondents’ profile Variable Levels Whole sample Variable Levels Whole sample Frequency % Frequency % Visitation Visitors 54 16.0 Age 18–24 1 0.3 Non-visitors 283 84.0 25–34 8 2.4 Total 337 100.0 35–44 29 8.6 Friends and/ Yes 31 9.2 45–54 74 22.0 or relatives No 306 90.8 55–64 130 38.6 in Russia Total 337 100.0 65 and older 86 25.5 Gender Male 147 44.0 PNTA 9 2.6 Female 187 56.0 Total 334 100.0 Total 336 99.7 Education High school 19 5.6 Marital Single 47 13.9 Some college 53 15.7 status Married 252 74.8 Associate 24 7.1 With a partner 4 1.2 Bachelor 105 31.2 Widowed 27 8.0 Master 93 27.6 PNTA 7 2.1 Ph.D. 40 11.9 PNTAa 3 0.9 Total 337 100.0 Total 337 100.0 Job Administrative 20 5.9 Income Less than $30 000 6 1.8 Educator 21 6.2 $30 000–$49 999 24 7.1 Executive 21 6.2 $50 000–$74 999 48 14.2 Managerial 20 5.9 $75 000–$99 999 58 17.2 Professional 87 25.8 $100 000–$149 999 81 24.0 Sales/marketing 14 4.2 $150 000–$199 999 31 9.2 Self-employed 24 7.1 $200 000 and above 41 12.2 Student 1 0.3 PNTA 48 14.2 Retired 111 32.9 Other 15 4.5 PNTA 3 0.9 Total 337 100.0 Total 337 100.0 a PNTA—prefer not to answer. Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 6 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 4. Results factors. The factor ‘‘great food’’ was eliminated as the result of this check and due to a low reliability alpha. 4.1. Research question 1: stereotypical holistic images Another concern was that the stable word combinations produced by factor analysis did not account for large By following the CATPAC-WORDER procedure de- differences in frequencies between words combined in some scribed in the previous section, a list of 72 most frequent of the image factors, e.g., in Factor 9, the word ‘‘old’’ had a meaningful words was obtained using CATPAC. Some frequency of 25, while the ‘‘buildings’’ word’s frequency words, e.g., ‘‘history’’, ‘‘historic’’, ‘‘historical’’ or ‘‘large’’, was 39. It meant that at least 14 occurrences of the word ‘‘big’’, were grouped together under the most frequent ‘‘buildings’’ were used in other word combinations. name, in this case ‘‘history’’ and ‘‘large’’, to reinforce Therefore, factors, which contained words with large concepts, and substitutions in the data were made by differences in frequencies, were checked against the original WORDER. Second, the frequencies of every specified data as well. As a result, some high frequency words, e.g., stereotypical image variable were counted in every response ‘‘poor’’, were associated with such words as ‘‘lodgings/ using WORDER. Table 2 contains overall frequencies of accommodations’’, which were not originally included into Russia’s stereotypical image variables. the stereotypical image variables set. Finally, some image The next step was to reduce the number of stereotypical factors were combined together, since they belonged to the image variables to a smaller number of image concepts by same image concepts, e.g., Factors 4 and 8 made one means of factor analysis. The dataset, which was obtained holistic image of ‘‘orthodox churches with onion-shaped by WORDER, had 45 variables and 317 cases, which gave domes’’, which was used in many responses. The final a solid case to variable ratio of 7.04 (Kline, 1994). Principal results of Russia’s stereotypical holistic images are given in Components Analysis with Varimax rotation was used. Table 3. Since textual responses were generally very short, e.g., ‘‘Cold. Beautiful churches’’, it was decided to look for stable word combinations, which might include as few as Table 3 two words, rather than for full 3–5 word factors. There- Stereotypical holistic images fore, the number of factors was not specified and the # Stereotypical holistic images option ‘‘Eigenvalues larger than 1’’ was chosen. Weak items (‘‘dark’’, ‘‘interesting’’, and ‘‘exotic’’) with low 1 Cold weather, snow 2 Beautiful architecture and old buildings coefficients in the diagonal of the anti-image matrix 3 Poor people, country, lodgings, and food choices (o0.40), low communalities (o0.50) and those that did 4 Historic sites and places not load higher than 0.35 on any factor were eliminated 5 Moscow, Red Square, and Kremlin (Kline, 1994). The remaining variables produced 17 factors 6 St. Petersburg, Hermitage, palaces, and museums that explained 67% of the total variance. 7 Vast country with lots of open spaces 8 Beautiful countryside The factor solution produced was an intermediate step to 9 Orthodox churches with onion-shaped domes identify the final stereotypical holistic images. Guided by 10 Big cities, interesting old cities this solution, the factors were checked against the original 11 Great culture, different culture data in order to ensure that word combinations containing 12 Beautiful music, ballet, art descriptive items such as cold, beautiful, poor, old, large, 13 Friendly/unfriendly people 14 Volga River great, vast, friendly, different, were not used in a negative 15 Vodka context, which would entirely change interpretability of the Table 2 Stereotypical image variables Variable Frequency Variable Frequency Variable Frequency Variable Frequency Cold 69 Kremlin 24 Food 12 Orthodox 7 Beautiful 55 Palaces 23 Culture 12 Open 7 People 54 Weather 19 Friendly 12 Vodka 6 History 45 Museums 19 Domes 10 Exotic 6 Buildings 39 Churches 19 Countryside 10 Sites 6 Poor 38 Cities 18 Snow 9 Volga 5 Architecture 37 Large 15 Hermitage 9 River 5 Red Square 36 Interesting 13 Music 9 Spaces 5 St. Petersburg 34 Onion 13 Winter 9 Ballet 5 Moscow 30 Art 13 Dark 8 Country 28 Great 12 Different 8 Old 25 Vast 12 Places 7 Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 7 4.2. Research questions 2 and 5: affective images and averaged across the 36 remaining responses (Cronbach’s favorability analysis alpha 0.786). The frequencies of each image variable were counted by WORDER in every one of 337 textual files, and To get insights into Russia’ affective images, the 337 the ‘‘favorability’’ values were computed for every response textual responses to question Q2 were evaluated for by simply adding together all occurrences of positive and favorability in order to test Hypothesis 1 not only for negative image variables multiplied by their score. The attribute-based items but on the textual responses as frequencies of all affective image variables along with their well. Using CATPAC, the study identified all evaluative favorability scores are given in Table 4. descriptors (around 240) in the textual data provided To calculate the favorability value for the response: by respondents, and combined them into 42 groups by ‘‘Fascinating country. Overall, people are friendly but synonymous meanings, as suggested by thesauri, context, reserved. Boring nightlife, dull food, though’’, the follow- and expert opinions. One word for each group, usually the ing procedure was implemented. The averaged favorability most frequent one, was selected as an affective image scores for all affective image variables in the response (1.97 variable. The final set of image variables contained mostly for ‘‘fascinating’’, 1.92 for ‘‘friendly’’, 0.08 for ‘‘reserved’’, descriptive words (e.g., ‘‘fascinating’’, ‘‘cautious’’); how- and À1.19 for ‘‘boring’’ and ‘‘dull’’, since they are ever, two nouns, ‘‘contrasts’’ and ‘‘alcoholism’’, were also synonyms) were multiplied by the number of their included. occurrences and summed up. Response overall favorability In the textual data, words belonging to the same value ¼ 1:97 þ 1:92 þ 0:08 þ ðÀ1:19Þ Ã 2 ¼ 1:59, i.e., favor- synonymic group were replaced by the representative able. Responses that did not provide an answer to the image variable using WORDER. All negative concepts question received a ‘‘zero’’ favorability value. The oper- expressed in a multi-word format, such as ‘‘I would not feel ationalized ‘‘favorability’’ variable was of continuous data safe’’ or ‘‘Russia is not well developed’’, were changed into type, its descriptive statistics are given in Table 5. one-word format, that of ‘‘unsafe’’ and ‘‘undeveloped’’. Since the sample sizes to test the Hypothesis 1 were so The evaluative descriptors obtained in the first part of the different (54 versus 283), the normality assumption for the study were assessed on a ‘‘minus 2 to plus 2’’ positive– ‘‘favorability’’ variable was checked on the smaller sample, negative scale by a group of US-born native English and the distribution was found to be normal (Kolmogor- speakers, age 30 and above, not associated with the ov–Smirnov p ¼ 0.200, Shapiro–Wilk p ¼ 0.467). Test respondents to Russia’s Destination Image online survey. results for the Hypothesis 1 are given in Table 6 and they Forty-three evaluations were received. An a priori screen- were significant at the 0.1 level. ing criterion for valid responses was ‘‘there should be no positive response on the first ‘alcoholism’ variable’’; since a positive response would indicate that a subject did not Table 5 understand the task. Three responses were eliminated on Favorability variable: descriptive statistics this criterion. Two more were excluded because of four or more missing entries, which might indicate a careless Variable N Minimum Maximum Mean SD attitude to the evaluation process. Scores were examined Favorability 337 À6.0832 8.7222 0.3267 2.2402 for internal consistency, and two outlier results were taken Valid N (listwise) 337 out. The values of every affective image variable were Table 4 Affective image variables: frequencies and favorability scores Variable Frequency Score Variable Frequency Score Variable Frequency Score Friendly 85 1.92 Free 11 1.36 Alcoholism 6 À1.75 Somber 47 À0.39 Open 11 1.36 Hardworking 6 1.69 Depressing 45 À1.67 Interesting 11 1.61 Festive 5 1.78 Unfriendly 28 À1.64 Austere 11 À0.41 Contrasts 5 1.06 Cold 18 À0.31 Hostility 10 À1.44 Happy 5 1.83 Poor 18 À1.00 Unhappy 10 À1.56 Uncomfortable 5 À1.36 Reserved 17 0.08 Pleasant 10 1.58 Serene 4 1.53 Exciting 15 1.81 Difficult 9 À1.19 Safe 4 1.64 Tense 15 À1.11 Sad 8 À1.42 Hopeful 4 1.53 Unsafe 15 À1.78 Cosmopolitan 8 1.44 Ruthless 4 À1.53 Good 15 1.72 Cordial 8 1.56 Seedy 4 À1.28 Upbeat 14 1.43 Cautious 7 À0.33 Historical 4 1.67 Awesome 14 1.72 Boring 7 À1.19 Unpleasant 3 À1.68 Undeveloped 13 À0.58 Fascinating 7 1.97 Relaxing 2 1.47 Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 8 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 4.3. Research question 3: uniqueness images 4.4. Research questions 4 and 5: common destination attributes To find what unique places and features US pleasure travelers associated with Russia, responses to question Q3 With respect to attribute-based items, this study were analyzed. The CATPAC procedure on the pooled closely followed Echtner and Ritchie’s (1993) framework. data was run, and 40 most frequent words indicating the Prior to analyzing the attribute-based items, eight nega- unique Russian features were identified. Some words were tively formulated statements were re-coded in positive for grouped together (e.g., ‘‘architecture’’ and ‘‘buildings’’) to the consistency of measurement and ease of results reinforce concepts. As a result of the grouping process, the interpretation. In Table 8 the attributes are arranged from final set of Russia’s uniqueness variables was produced. A most to least favorably assessed, based on the whole sample table of synonyms was constructed and used as input for of responses. Attributes are considered positively or nega- the WORDER program. Occurrences of every uniqueness tively assessed if their mean is below or above the neutral variable were counted and entered into the SPSS database. ‘‘3.00’’ value, respectively. Hypothesis 1 test results are given Responses like ‘‘do not know’’ were included into the in the last column of Table 8. As can be seen from the table, frequency analyses as having ‘‘0’’ frequencies. As can be the past visitor group gave a more favorable assessment of seen from Table 7, the list of unique Russian features is Russia’s destinath Varimax rotation was employed to reduce nearly exhaustive. The group of past visitors displayed a the 44 destination attributes into nine factors. Ten attributes better knowledge of unique Russian features. (nature preserves; nightlife/entertainment; costs/price levels; Table 6 Favorability variable: visitors vs. non-visitors Visitation N Mean Levene’s test for equality of variances t-Test for equality of means F Significant t df p-Value Visitors 54 0.808 3.572 0.060 1.726 335 0.085 Non-visitors 283 0.235 Table 7 Uniqueness images # Unique features All respondents 336 Visitors n1 ¼ 54 Non-visitors n2 ¼ 283 Frequency Mean Frequency Mean Frequency Mean 1 St. Petersburg 113 0.34 25 0.46 88 0.31 2 Red Square 92 0.27 19 0.35 73 0.26 3 Kremlin 75 0.22 11 0.20 64 0.23 4 Moscow 73 0.22 23 0.43 50 0.18 5 Hermitage/winter palace 44 0.13 19 0.35 25 0.09 6 Churches/cathedrals 38 0.11 10 0.19 28 0.10 7 Museums 37 0.11 11 0.20 26 0.09 8 Art 35 0.10 11 0.20 24 0.08 9 Architecture 26 0.08 4 0.07 22 0.08 10 Czars (imperial Russia) 25 0.07 8 0.15 17 0.06 11 Palaces 22 0.07 9 0.17 13 0.05 12 Cruises 15 0.04 8 0.15 7 0.02 13 Summer palace 12 0.04 10 0.19 2 0.01 14 Siberia 11 0.03 3 0.06 8 0.03 15 Small towns 9 0.03 7 0.13 2 0.01 16 St. Basil’s cathedral 8 0.02 4 0.07 4 0.01 17 Lenin’s tomb 8 0.02 3 0.06 5 0.02 18 Onion-shaped domes 8 0.02 1 0.02 7 0.02 19 Black Sea 8 0.02 1 0.02 7 0.02 20 Trans-Sib 8 0.02 1 0.02 7 0.02 21 Volga River 8 0.02 1 0.02 7 0.02 22 Leningrad 4 0.01 1 0.02 3 0.01 23 Chernobyl 3 0.01 0 0.00 3 0.01 24 Baikal 3 0.01 1 0.02 2 0.01 Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 9 Table 8 Common destination attributes Destination attributes N ¼ 336 Visitors n1 ¼ 54 Non-visitors n2 ¼ 283 t-Test Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD p-Value Sites/museums 1.64 0.76 1.20 0.49 1.72 0.78 0.000** Architecture 1.65 0.71 1.43 0.79 1.70 0.69 0.010* Customs/culture 1.77 0.63 1.67 0.67 1.79 0.62 Opportunity to learn 1.87 0.72 1.58 0.60 1.92 0.73 0.002** Arts 1.87 0.71 1.48 0.64 1.95 0.70 0.000** Scenery 2.01 0.83 1.83 0.84 2.05 0.82 Family or adult oriented 2.17 0.65 2.19 0.74 2.16 0.63 Non-capital Russia 2.18 0.76 1.91 0.73 2.23 0.75 0.004** Cities 2.22 0.89 2.00 0.97 2.27 0.86 0.042* Tourist attractions 2.28 0.94 1.69 0.77 2.40 0.93 0.000** Cruises 2.32 0.75 1.98 0.76 2.38 0.73 0.000** Combined trips 2.33 0.79 2.06 0.86 2.38 0.77 0.006** Unique natural resources 2.33 0.82 2.31 0.95 2.33 0.80 Trans-Sib 2.38 0.68 2.41 0.71 2.37 0.68 Different cuisine 2.43 0.89 2.54 1.18 2.41 0.82 Hospitality/friendliness 2.45 0.85 2.06 0.92 2.52 0.81 0.000** Nightlife 2.47 0.79 2.26 0.83 2.52 0.78 0.028* Atmosphere 2.52 0.77 2.30 0.94 2.56 0.72 Tours/excursions 2.57 0.84 2.15 0.81 2.65 0.82 0.000** Fairs/festivals 2.61 0.92 2.56 0.98 2.63 0.91 Knowledge of Russian History 2.64 0.97 2.09 0.52 2.75 1.00 Costs/price levels 2.65 0.81 2.19 0.93 2.74 0.76 0.000ÃÃ Fishing/hunting 2.66 0.73 2.76 0.78 2.65 0.72 Life of people 2.69 0.79 2.76 0.93 2.68 0.76 Nature preserves 2.77 0.86 2.57 0.87 2.81 0.86 Fame/reputation 2.90 1.02 2.28 0.91 3.02 1.00 0.000ÃÃ Quality food 2.93 0.85 2.70 1.11 2.98 0.78 Safety 2.98 0.87 2.78 0.86 3.02 0.87 Ease of communication 3.04 0.84 2.93 1.04 3.06 0.80 Quality of service 3.05 0.68 3.11 0.84 3.04 0.64 Opportunity for adventure 3.05 0.79 3.13 0.70 3.04 0.80 Sports activities 3.06 0.68 2.98 0.76 3.08 0.67 Restaurants 3.09 0.72 3.00 0.89 3.10 0.69 Rest and relaxation 3.15 0.73 3.09 0.93 3.16 0.69 Climate 3.20 0.89 2.69 0.82 3.30 0.88 0.000ÃÃ Transportation 3.21 0.73 3.02 0.92 3.25 0.69 0.034Ã Beaches 3.22 0.86 3.15 0.86 3.24 0.85 Accomodations 3.23 0.82 3.17 0.84 3.25 0.81 Cleanness 3.27 0.74 3.41 0.90 3.24 0.70 Shopping facilities 3.27 0.76 3.00 0.97 3.32 0.70 0.023Ã Accessibility 3.35 0.78 3.28 1.15 3.36 0.69 Political stability 3.44 0.89 3.21 0.93 3.48 0.88 0.041Ã Crowdedness 3.60 0.70 3.83 0.75 3.55 0.68 0.007ÃÃ Economic development 3.84 0.71 3.87 0.73 3.83 0.71 Ã Significant at 0.05 level. ÃÃSignificant at 0.01 level. accessibility; climate; crowdedness; rest/relaxation; chance (Factor 3); Safety (Factor 4); History (Factor 5); Food to see how people really live; atmosphere; and arts) had & Culture (Factor 6); Service (Factor 7); Adventure either low communalities or factor loadings and were taken (Factor 8), and Family/adult (Factor 9). Factor 9 consisted out to improve the characteristics of the solution. The final of a single attribute; however, taking it out reduced the KMO measure of sampling adequacy was 0.902; com- characteristics and interpretability of solution. The percen- munalities ranged from 0.500 to 0.779; all factor loadings tage of variance explained as well as the high factor loading were greater than 0.40. The total variance explained was justified retaining it. Cronbach’s alpha was adequate for all 61.05%. The results are given in Table 9. The factors were factors but Factor 8. All cross loadings made sense from self-explanatory and were named as Traditional Tourism the solution interpretability point of view. For example, (Factor 1); Infrastructure (Factor 2); Niche Tourism Scenery from Factor 1, Traditional Tourism, also loaded Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 10 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] Table 9 Destination image factors Factors F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 traditional infrastructure niche safety history food service adventure family tourism tourism and culture adult Variance explained 12.84 8.36 8.01 7.46 5.66 5.49 5.42 4.26 3.56 Eigenvalue 9.13 2.59 1.77 1.45 1.37 1.23 1.19 1.02 1.01 Cronbach’s alpha 0.86 0.74 0.77 0.73 0.62 0.62 0.58 0.48 Variables and communalities Sites/museums 0.64 0.740 Architecture 0.58 0.700 Tourist attractions 0.65 0.693 Cities 0.69 0.692 Non-capital Russia 0.60 0.634 Opportunity to learn 0.61 0.610 Scenery 0.56 0.540 0.437 Hospitality 0.55 0.433 Transportation 0.57 0.681 Restaurants 0.63 0.616 Shopping facilities 0.58 0.576 Sports activities 0.57 0.575 Unique natural resources 0.66 0.689 Fishing/hunting 0.61 0.686 Cruises 0.59 0.526 Beaches 0.50 0.483 Trans-Sib 0.64 0.454 0.412 Political stability 0.64 0.763 Safety 0.63 0.692 Cleanness 0.53 0.601 Economics 0.57 0.434 0.457 Knowledge of Russian history 0.62 0.747 Fame/reputation 0.58 0.409 0.491 Combined trips 0.63 0.421 0.445 À0.426 Tours/excursions 0.54 0.442 Different cuisine 0.63 0.673 Customs/culture 0.64 0.616 Quality food 0.69 0.452 0.515 Quality of service 0.64 0.701 Accommodations 0.67 0.425 0.642 Fairs/festivals 0.55 0.638 Ease of communication 0.64 0.754 Opportunity for adventure 0.56 0.450 Family or adult oriented 0.78 0.855 on Factor 3, Niche Tourism, along with such items as Advertising and promotion of Russia to the interna- Natural Resources, Fishing/Hunting, Cruises, Beaches, tional traveler has been very minimal in terms of financial and Trans-Sib. resources in comparison to the efforts of other major destinations. In 2003, prior to this research, the Russian 5. Discussion promotional budget on the federal level was USD 3.0 million (Izvestia, issue 01.21.05), which was two times 5.1. Implications for the FTA less than what was spent by Paris or Singapore alone. The result of insufficient advertising has been a lack Although Russia is one of the major world tourist of awareness about Russia’s tourist features as was destinations (WTO, 2006b), it has not received enough indicated by the current study. The share of respondents academic attention to date. Thus, this study partly fills the who put ‘‘don’t know’’ as the answer to the question gap by assessing the country’s destination image among US Q3 about unique Russian features was 19%. The truly pleasure travelers, one of the most affluent travel markets in unique Russian natural resources that are included in the world. The implications of the study have relevance to the UNESCO World Heritage List, such as the Golden the current FTA initiative to build a successful Brand Russia. Mountains of Altai, Volcanoes of Kamchatka, Virgin Komi Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] 11 Forests and others, were not mentioned at all. Lake Baikal Russia’s tourism attributes. The results indicated that was mentioned by three people only. While a number of adequate promotional information is needed to correct the respondents mentioned Russia’s countryside, small towns negative perceptions of non-visitors. and villages, no specific names emerged. Several of Russia’s functional common attributes such as With regard to the other two open-ended questions, economic development, accessibility, shopping facilities, particularly about affective images, the problem was not cleanliness, accommodations, beaches, transportation, that American pleasure travelers knew little about Russia. restaurants, and sports activities were ranked negatively The survey respondents knew various things about the (mean score higher than 3.0) by the respondents (see country, but their perceptions were often unfavorable. Out Table 8). Four of these items—transportation, restaurants, of 42 affective image variables, 20 had negative favorability shopping facilities, and sport activities—made up a scores, and out of 337 responses, 129 and 59 had negative separate Infrastructure factor, and two more items— and zero favorability values, respectively. The ‘‘Soviet era’’ economic development and accommodations—had load- image still lingered. Poor people, country, lodgings, and ings greater than 0.40 on this factor (see Table 9). This food choices were often present in the responses to Q1 indicated that the level of infrastructure is a consideration about the stereotypical images. ‘‘Poor’’, ‘‘undeveloped’’, for US pleasure travelers in the process of destination ‘‘hostile towards Americans’’, ‘‘ruthless’’, ‘‘depressing’’, selection. Therefore, promotion of tourism types that are and ‘‘unsafe’’ country emerged from about half of less sensitive to levels of infrastructure development is responses to Q2. Such attributes of the Soviet era, as the advisable, since they potentially have a higher probability Cold War, Lenin’s tomb, Stalin, and Leningrad, were also of success (Ilyina & Mieczkowski, 1992). These tourism mentioned. types are also less sensitive to the service levels, with service The survey respondents did not agree whether Russian being another important consideration for potential people were friendly or not, which was registered in their travelers. answers to both Q1 and Q2. Respondents who thought As this study indicated, ‘‘traditional tourism’’ has the Russian people to be friendly often added such descriptors strongest position image-wise in the minds of US pleasure as ‘‘somber’’ and ‘‘reserved’’. These attitudes can be travelers (see Table 9). Historical sites and museums, partially explained by the age of the respondents, more capital and provincial cities rich in architecture and than 70% of whom were more than 55 years old. Another cultural heritage, beautiful scenery, and opportunities to possible explanation is the complicated procedure of interact with Russian people should be combined in an obtaining a Russian visa. The lack of positive materials attractive package. Up-to-date information on the safety about Russia in the US general media also plays a role in and hygiene conditions, as well as infrastructure levels, American pleasure travelers’ negative perceptions of the should be effectively communicated. Another possibility is country. The attribute-based ‘‘hospitality-friendliness’’ the Trans-Siberian journey with stopovers in unique nature item indicated that visitors thought Russian people were preserves and cultural and historical locations. The levels friendlier (mean 2.06) than non-visitors (mean 2.52). of comfort, service, and infrastructure of such a trip are However, the ‘‘hospitality-friendliness’’ perceptions of high for the first- and second-class ticket holders. Given the non-visitors are very important for the FTA, since they average age of the ATC members, they might not be the might interfere with the desire to go Russia. No country audience for adventure or eco-tourism travel offers. that wants to develop a strong tourism sector can afford to Hypothesis 1 addresses the relationship between image be perceived as unfriendly to visitors. The branding and visitation. As indicated in Section 2.1, the nature of approach might be the answer to this problem, since the this relationship is complex and multi-faceted. The act of visitor’s satisfaction is in large part a matter of expectations visiting a destination can certainly change the image one (Chon, 1990). Careful branding of the Russian nation as has of that destination. This can best be examined in terms the reserved people who are cordial to guests and open and of pre- and post-visitation images, which were not available warm to friends might be successful. To reinforce the in this study. In turn, the favorability of a destination’s politeness/cordial perception, extensive human resources image can influence whether one chooses to visit the training programs in the hospitality and tourism sector destination in the first place. Therefore, association between are also of primary importance and should be initiated by image and visitation is a two-way cause–effect relationship. the FTA. However, the authors feel that, from a marketing stand- With regard to functional attributes, significant differ- point, the direction of the relationship is not as important ences were registered for 19 items with visitors giving more as the existing ‘‘image-visitation’’ association itself. ‘‘The favorable assessments. This is a very interesting finding for more favorable the image is, the more likely visitation will the FTA because it suggests that quality of Russia’s tourist occur’’ direction stresses the need for adequate advertising offer is, in fact, better than the non-visitors think it is. of Russia in the US travel market. The ‘‘destination image Given that no significant differences were registered changes as a result of actual visitation’’ direction implies between visitors and non-visitors in terms of demographic that with regard to this study, the actual Russian offer characteristics, the differences in evaluations can be (assessed by the past visitors) is better than the perceived attributed to the differences in the actual and perceived one (assessed by non-visitors), which again highlights the Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
    • ARTICLE IN PRESS 12 S. Stepchenkova, A.M. Morrison / Tourism Management ] (]]]]) ]]]–]]] necessity of adequate marketing communications to various 5.3. Limitations and further research groups of potential first- and repeat visitors. The study confirmed that the parsimonious set of 35 scale items on common destination attributes proposed by 5.2. Generalizability of results Echtner and Ritchie (1993) can be successfully used for a very broad range of destinations, including such large and Generalizability of the results was a concern in this diverse countries as Russia. Factor analysis conducted on a study. Does the obtained sample of ATC members truly 35-item set resulted in seven factors, the interpretation of represent American leisure travelers? To examine this which had much in common with the factors obtained by question, three comparisons were made: (1) between ATC Echtner and Ritchie (1993). Adding Russia-specific attri- members and US pleasure travelers to Europe; (2) between butes made the factor solution less stable, and 10 attributes population under study (ATC members with Internet had to be taken out. The resulting factors were essentially access) and the whole ATC membership; and (3) between the same with one notable exception: Russia-related the obtained sample and the population under study. First, attributes mostly fell into the Niche Tourism factor. This to answer how well ATC members represent the entire suggests that including new, destination-specific attributes, population of US long-haul tourists, the entire ATC into a set of well established attributes should undergo a membership profile (Morrison, So, Beldona, Feng, & rigorous selection procedure, similar to that which was Stepchenkova, 2004) was qualitatively compared to the employed by Echtner and Ritchie (1993). profile of a typical US traveler to Europe (European Travel Russia as a tourist destination does not equal Russia as a Commission (ETC), 2001). US outbound pleasure travelers country. Kotler and Gertner (2002, p. 251) pointed out that tend to be more highly educated than the US adult ‘‘a country’s image results from its geography, history, population as a whole and wait until they are older to do proclamations, art and music, famous citizens and other the bulk of their international long-haul travel. Addition- features’’. Destination and country images are overlapping ally, travelers to Europe are more affluent than the average constructs (Mossberg & Kleppe, 2005), and Russia’s US outbound traveler, and three-quarters of them travel as destination image is undoubtedly influenced by the couples. The proportion of younger members in the ATC is country’s image, however, it is not clear to what degree. twice as small as that of American travelers to Europe; Therefore, it is important to assess how Russia’s destina- therefore, it was concluded that ATC members were tion image is affected by the often negative coverage of representative of the older US pleasure travelers Russia as a political entity in the US general media. The group. Second, the sample of ATC members obtained in question as to whether these two images can be separated this study was compared to the overall ATC membership in the minds of potential travelers to Russia has direct profile. Significant differences were found for the ‘‘age’’, relevance to successful building of Brand Russia. ‘‘education’’, and ‘‘job’’ variables. Respondents of this This study dealt with the image of Russia as a travel study were older and more educated, and had a larger destination among US pleasure travelers. However, the US share of professionals and retirees. This finding was is only one potential market for Russia’s inbound tourism. somewhat expected, since the population of this study The large distance between the two countries might have a was limited to ATC members with Internet access. While negative effect on how Russia is perceived by US travelers the comparison suggested that the study sample was as suggested by Reilly (1990). Other, geographically closer not representative of the entire ATC membership, the markets might be better suited for focused promotional profile of the respondents did correspond to that of efforts of the FTA, because they might already possess a the older, affluent, and well-educated US pleasure travelers more favorable and accurate image of Russia that would to Europe. Finally, the low overall response rate ($7%) require less effort and finance to enhance and positively did not allow conclusion that the opinions of people induce. who participated in the survey were representative of the entire population under study (ATC members with Internet access). To check for non-response bias, two References groups of the survey respondents, 1st and 2nd stage, were compared. The groups were found to be the same for the Ahmed, Z. U. (1991). The influence of the components of a state’s tourist ‘‘visitation’’ and all the demographic variables but income, image on product positioning strategy. 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Please cite this article as: Stepchenkova, S., & Morrison, A. M. Russia’s destination image among American pleasure travelers: Revisiting Echtner and.... Tourism Management (2007), doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2007.06.003
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