ARTICLE IN PRESS
Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129
Destination image representation on the web: Content analysis of
Macau travel related websites
Soojin Choia, Xinran Y. Lehtoa, Alastair M. Morrisonb,Ã
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1266, USA
Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, College of Consumer & Family Sciences, Purdue University, Room 111A, Stone Hall,
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA
Received 26 February 2006; accepted 3 March 2006
This study attempted to identify the image representations of Macau on the Internet by analyzing the contents of a variety of web
information sources—Macau ofﬁcial tourism website, tour operators and travel agents’ websites, online travel magazine and guide
websites, and online travel ‘‘blogs.’’ Both qualitative (text mining and expert judgment) and quantitative approaches (correspondence
analysis) were used to content-analyze the narrative and visual information on the sampled websites. The results showed that the image
of Macau projected online varies by the different online information sources. These variations could largely be explained by the different
communication objectives and targeted audiences of the different web information sources. This study underscores the importance of
understanding the multiplicity of destination image representations on the web and the challenges of managing and delivering the desired
image of a destination online.
r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: CATPAC II; Content analysis; Correspondence analysis; Destination image; Destination marketing; Macau; Text mining; Websites
1. Introduction luxury casino hotels and other tourism facilities (Jahns,
2005), but there have been very few studies forecasting the
Referred to as ‘‘the most exciting growth story of the future of Macau’s tourism and how it might perform more
decade,’’ Macau received over 17 million visitor arrivals in effectively in the future (Hobson, 1995; Song & Witt, 2006).
2004, an increase of over 40% compared to 2003 (Jahns, It is important for Macau to develop a more multi-faceted
2005; Schuman, 2005). This blistering increase in Macau’s destination image incorporating its gaming reputation, its
tourism is mainly attributed to the expansion of its casino unique culture and heritage, international festivals, and
sector, which has generated spillover growth in tourism sports events. However, little research attention has been
and the development of casino resorts and hotels. Main- given to Macau’s projected or perceived tourism images.
land China has remained Macau’s largest source market, More speciﬁcally, there have been no previous studies
accounting for 60% of all visitors, since the Chinese investigating the online tourism image of Macau with
government relaxed travel restrictions for its citizens under respect to English-speaking markets. To achieve Macau’s
the Individual Visitor Scheme in July 2003 (Jahns, 2005). strategic goal of diversifying its tourist markets (Chui,
With this phenomenal tourism growth, Macau faces the 2005), it is critical to understand how Macau is represented
challenge of attracting more high-end tourists from other and perceived online.
countries, and not just from China (Honegger, 2005). Image and image formation have been examined
Recently, signiﬁcant foreign funds have been infused into extensively in the tourism literature due to its complex
conceptual nature and its important role in inﬂuencing
ÃCorresponding author. Tel.: +1 765 494 7905; fax: +1 765 496 1168. tourist decision making. However, research on the Internet
E-mail addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org (S. Choi), email@example.com as an image formation agent is still at an infancy stage. The
(X.Y. Lehto), firstname.lastname@example.org (A.M. Morrison). Internet has drastically transformed the distribution and
0261-5177/$ - see front matter r 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129 119
marketing of tourism products (Buhalis & Spada, 2000), appropriate mix of image formation agents was critical in a
and information consumption patterns have been re- successful destination image-making strategy because
shaped. Certainly, image formation has become a much various image formation agents have different effects on
more complex process than ever before. Researchers have destination images.
advocated a systematic re-categorization of image forma- Phelps (1986) categorized destination images into
tion agents by considering a wide assortment of online primary and secondary depending on the information
information sources. sources used. While primary images are formed through
Image projection on the web is receiving greater internal information such as past experiences, secondary
attention from researchers and destination marketing images are inﬂuenced by information received from some
practitioners. The purpose of this research was to external sources. Mansfeld (1992) suggested that one of the
contribute to this emerging body of literature by system- basic functions of secondary information sources was to
atically examining Macau’s online tourism image repre- create images of destinations. According to Gitelson and
sentations through various travel-related web information Crompton (1983), both informal (personal) or independent
sources. sources and formal (company sponsored) sources of
information are used in a multi-level procedure of travel
2. Literature review information search. In addition, Bojanic (1991) suggested
that formal communications through advertising was an
2.1. Destination image and image formation effective in creating images and attitudes toward destina-
tions. Van Raaij and Francken (1984) segmented these
It is widely accepted that destination image is an integral travel information sources into three groups: commercial,
and inﬂuential part of the traveler’s decision process and advisory, and social.
consequently travel behaviors (Baloglu & Brinberg, 1997; While this general image perspective has been valuable
Gallarza, Saura, & Garcia, 2002; Rezende-Parker, Morri- to understanding the impact of advertising messages, little
son, & Ismail, 2003; Stabler, 1987). While the deﬁnition of attention has been given to visual image research (Mackay
image varies among scholars, it is generally referred to as & Fesenmaier, 2000). According to Mackay and Couldwell
‘‘a compilation of beliefs and impressions based on (2004), photographs are vital to successfully creating and
information processing from a variety of sources over communicating images of a destination. Since image
time,’’ resulting in an internally accepted mental construct represents a simpliﬁcation of a large number of associa-
representing attributes and beneﬁts sought of a product/ tions and pieces of information connected with places
destination (Crompton, 1979; Gartner, 1993; Gallarza (Day, Skidmore, & Koller, 2002), visual images are very
et al., 2002; Mackay & Fesenmaier, 2000). Hence, powerful marketing tools enabling the destination to
informative promotion providing potential tourists with communicate a variety of images in a compressed format.
knowledge of a destination is regarded as a signiﬁcant Mackay and Fesenmaier (2000) argued that visuals are
factor in the destination selection process (Fakeye & salient in the early stages of destination evaluation, when
Crompton, 1991). Gartner (1993) noted that the type and the tourist’s involvement level is low.
amount of external stimuli (information sources) received A number of image studies have suggested effective
inﬂuenced the formation of the cognitive component of destination positioning strategies to appeal to potential
image. Similarly, Um and Crompton (1990) argued that visitors, by either measuring existing images (Chaudhary,
‘‘the perceptual/cognitive evaluation of attributes is formed 2000; Fakeye & Crompton, 1991; Rezende-Parker et al.,
by external factors which include various information 2003), or examining the structure and formation dynamics
sources such as symbolic stimuli (promotional efforts of a of image (Baloglu & McCleary, 1999; Echtner & Ritchie,
destination through media) and social stimuli (friends’ and 1993; Gartner, 1993). However, the role of visual images in
relatives’ recommendations or word-of-mouth)’’ (cited the formation of destination image has not been sufﬁciently
from Baloglu & McCleary, 1999). elucidated. Due to the multiple dimensions of destination
Based on Gunn’s (1988) classiﬁcation of organic and image (Gallarza et al., 2002) and the greater complexity the
induced images, Gartner (1993) identiﬁed eight image Internet has brought to tourism marketing, there is a need
formation agents; overt induced I, overt induced II, covert to examine both textual and visual information provided to
induced I, covert induced II, autonomous, unsolicited understand the complete structure of destination image
organic, solicited organic and organic image. He suggested formation in the online market space.
that the key difference between induced and organic image Destination images are derived from a wide spectrum of
formation agents was the amount of control the destination information sources (Echtner & Ritchie, 1991), and the
had over what was presented. Organic images are those communications between suppliers, intermediaries, and
that arise from supposedly unbiased sources such as books, potential visitors have become more complex since the
school education, television documentaries, and experi- Internet arrived. The global availability of Internet access
ences of friends and family. Induced images are those that and the blurring boundaries of competition have resulted
emanate from the destination area itself and its marketing in a proliferation of destination identities being commu-
and promotional materials. Gartner also argued that an nicated (Govers & Go, 2003). The greater ﬂuidity of
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120 S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129
information creation and modiﬁcation have made it more examination of the effects of projected images through
difﬁcult to ensure effective destination marketing, image various information channels could become an integral
communication, and positioning. Notwithstanding these part of image formation research.
challenges, the Internet offers great potential to inﬂuence Some previous studies have investigated the pictorial or
consumers’ perceived images, including creating virtual verbal contents of promotional materials from the per-
experiences of destinations (Gretzel, Yuan, & Fesenmaier, spectives of the research subjects after exposure to the
2000). messages (Day et al., 2002; Mackay & Fesenmaier, 2000).
It is generally believed that image formation agents O’Leary and Deegan (2005) argued that content analysis of
affect the destination selection process differently and the written information, such as guidebooks and travel
level of control of these agents by destination marketers is brochures, could provide a great deal of information about
variable (Gartner, 1993; Gunn, 1988; Mackay & Fesen- the images projected by a tourism destination. They
maier, 2000). In addition, the 21st century market conducted an exploratory study on the contents of
environment requires a rethinking of the traditional image Ireland’s promotional materials distributed in the French
formation process and a redeﬁnition the role of informa- market and developed a master list of attributes measuring
tion agents in shaping destination images. The timing, costs French residents’ perceptions of Ireland as a destination.
and strategies for distributing promotional messages have However, this study only examined the printed promo-
changed due to the increased importance of digital tional materials provided by the Irish national tourism
information. The inﬂuence of online digital information organization. Online information and other commercial
on image formation has become an important issue for information sources were not analyzed. Further, the
tourism researchers (Govers & Go, 2004). destination attributes identiﬁed were based on the re-
searchers’ subjective judgments. Stepchenkova and Morri-
2.2. Content analyses of destination image son (2006), however, examined the online content of tour
operator websites about Russia. They found that within the
Gartner (1993) proposed that destination images are 212 websites analyzed the US and Russian sites were
formed by three distinctly different but hierarchically portraying different images of Russia as a tourism
interrelated components: cognitive, affective and conative. destination. This research study was intended to go one
Echtner and Ritchie (1991, 1993) proposed a three- step further by analyzing both narrative and visual
dimensional continuum of destination image; functional— contents of websites.
psychological, attributes—holistic, and common—unique.
They suggested that a combination of structured and 3. Study background and objectives
unstructured methodologies should be used to measure
these dimensions. As the structure of destination image Macau’s tourism marketers are under pressure to
changes depending on the researcher’s conceptualization, diversify tourist arrivals beyond the current heavy reliance
measurement methodologies and techniques have also on the Mainland Chinese market and the increasing
varied. The majority have used multivariate or bivariate competition in the casino resort market from neighboring
structured techniques to operationalize destination image countries such as Singapore and the Philippines (Agence
constructs (O’Leary & Deegan, 2005). The use of France Presse, 2005; Division of Promotion and Dissemi-
qualitative approaches, while not as prevalent, has been nation of Information of Macau (DSEC), 2005). Therefore,
increasingly recognized as a useful supplement because a it is imperative to develop fresh and competitive image and
qualitative approach reveals holistic and psychological positioning strategies. In so doing, researchers have
impressions associated with a destination that are not suggested that tourism marketers should establish baseline
easily captured by quantitative methods (Dann, 1996; data on present images and positioning (Bonn, Joseph, &
Echtner & Ritchie, 1993; Mackay & Fesenmaier, 2000; Dai, 2005; Gartner, 1993; O’Leary & Deegan, 2005). This
Reilly, 1990). With the increasingly rich and readily study constituted the ﬁrst part of a multi-stage image study
available text data on the web, qualitative assessments to gain initial insights into how Macau’s destination image
such as content analysis of image formation and other is represented and projected on different online English
tourism phenomena is gaining in popularity. information sources.
Mackay and Fesenmaier (2000) proposed that while Through strong industry partnerships and public rela-
visitor-determined images reﬂect individual differences in tions, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) were
information processing and interpretation, destination- effective and inﬂuential in media content placement and in
determined images mirror the actuality of the destination. the coordination of destination positioning initiatives in the
Therefore, it is important to test whether the images pre-Internet era (Govers & Go, 2003). However, it could be
presented in promotional materials correspond to those argued that since the Internet arrived, DMOs inﬂuence and
held by visitors (Stabler, 1987). Although image is formed dominance has diminished. Most travel information today
through the subjective evaluation of external stimuli has been digitalized and can be accessed with virtually no
(Gartner, 1993), it may be as important to discern what barriers by every potential tourist. Online tourism forums
stimuli are delivered by destination marketers. The and other virtual communities also allow free expression
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S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129 121
and sharing of information, perceptions and opinions. As a eliminated from the sample. The remaining sample of 61
result, centralized control over destination information websites included 12 magazine, 15 travel guide, 20 travel
dissemination is now almost impossible. trade, and 14 travel blog websites. The website contents
The understanding of a destination’s image representa- were ﬁrst saved into separate Word ﬁles (.doc ﬁles) and the
tion has become more complex with the larger spectrum of text data were then merged into ﬁve separate ﬁles for each
information sources and channels. Furthermore, the many sub-category for further content analysis. Similarly, visual
information sources related to Macau tourism have images were collected from these 61 websites and saved
different objectives and orientations when projecting into the ﬁve separate ﬁles for further analysis.
Macau as a tourism destination. This study examined the The text data was content-analyzed using CATPAC II, a
stimuli provided and emphasized by different information text-mining software program based on artiﬁcial neural
sources, as well as the opinions of visitors and potential networks (Woelfel, 1993). Several technical operations
visitors to Macau. The focus of the research was to were needed to achieve interpretable results from this
compare and contrast the images projected by the ofﬁcial text-mining analysis: (1) excluding certain grammatical and
Macau tourism website, and those of the travel trade and ‘‘stop’’ words such as ‘‘is’’, ‘‘a’’, ‘‘the’’, ‘‘I’’ and so on; (2)
online travel publications. Travel blogs were analyzed to replacing plurals with singulars, and past tense with present
reveal the dialectic views of both the trade and the general tense; (3) making the spelling of the names of the attraction
traveling public. The narrative and visual information on sites consistent and grouping the names comprised of two
the Macau travel-related websites was analyzed through and more words into one so that they would not be
both the quantitative (text mining) and qualitative (expert counted separately, for example, ‘‘A-Ma Temple’’ was
judgment) approaches of content analyses (Singh & Hu, recoded to ‘‘AmaTemple.’’ Likewise, ‘‘the ruins of St.
2005). Accordingly, the speciﬁc study objectives were to: -
Paul’s’’, ‘‘Fac ade de Sao Paulo’’ or ‘‘Citadel of Sao Paulo’’
were grouped into ‘‘St.PaulsRuins.’’ After these steps,
1. Identify the most frequently used words or phrases and multiple runs of the CATPAC program were conducted to
word associations describing Macau as a tourist further exclude words such as ‘‘year’’, ‘‘room’’, ‘‘hour’’,
destination on Macau travel related websites and ‘‘minute’’ and other similar terms since they are frequently
compare them across the different online information used in travel-related text, but would not contribute to a
sources. meaningful interpretation of the results.
2. Compare visual information on Macau on different CATPAC II identiﬁed the words frequently used from
websites and examine the effectiveness of visual images. each sub-category of website and these frequently used key
3. Examine how different sub-categories of websites words were coded into quantiﬁed data in SPSS for more
project the images of Macau and provide marketing quantitative measures such as correspondence analysis.
implications if there are disparities in image repre- The visual images were classiﬁed into 11 categories and
sentation. compared across the ﬁve website sub-categories based on
frequency analysis. Visual information was also trans-
formed into quantiﬁed data for further analyses.
The sample of websites was selected through an
exhaustive search of website lists under the travel 5.1. Analysis of textual information
directories of Yahoo and Google from April 13, 2005 to
April 18, 2005. By visiting a number of websites under the Table 1 displays and compares the top 20 most
sub-categories such as ‘‘Travel Agents’’, ‘‘Tour Opera- frequently used words for each website sub-category and
tors’’, ‘‘Travelogues’’, ‘‘Travel Writing’’, ‘‘Publications (or shows the combined total frequencies for all categories of
Publishers)’’, ‘‘Magazine’’, and ‘‘News and Media’’, the websites. ‘‘Portuguese’’, ‘‘Chinese’’ and ‘‘China’’ were the
websites with Macau travel-related information were most frequently used words across all ﬁve sub-categories.
identiﬁed. Then, these websites were classiﬁed into four This reinforces the notion that Macau provides a unique
sub-categories according to the websites’ identities: travel mixture of Portuguese and Chinese culture. Interestingly,
trade (cf. www.asiatravel.com); travel magazines (cf. www. ‘‘Chinese & China’’ ranked higher than ‘‘Portuguese’’ on
travelandleisure.com); travel guides (cf. www.lonleyplanet. the MGTO’s website, perhaps indicating a greater empha-
com); and travel blogs (cf. www.virtualtourist.com). In sis on Macau’s Chinese roots on the part of MGTO.
addition to the Macau Government Tourism Ofﬁce Overall, ‘‘Hong Kong’’ was the fourth most frequently
(MGTO) website, the top 20 websites from the search mentioned term, indicating a close association between
results in each sub-category were chosen, resulting in a Macau and Hong Kong. For instance, ‘‘Hong Kong’’ was
total sample size of 81. Some of these 81 sites contained a prominent word in the travel trade sector. This may
little of their own information about Macau but provided indicate that travel agents and tour operators tend to
links to the MGTO, Lonely Planet, or travel agency promote Macau alongside Hong Kong or vice versa. The
websites. To avoid redundancy, these websites were travel blogs showed a similar strong association between
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122 S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129
Most frequent words or phrases in rank order
Rank Total combined MGTO Blogs Magazines Guides Travel trade
1 Portuguese Chinese Portuguese Portuguese Portuguese Portuguese
2 Chinese Museum Hong Kong Hong Kong Hong Kong Chinese
3 China Portuguese Chinese Chinese China China
4 Hong Kong China China Casino Chinese Temple
5 Hotel Facilities Casino China Hotel Hong Kong
6 City Garden Only Hotel City Museum
7 Museum Built Day Old Restaurant Built
8 Casino Building Stpaulsruins City Century Church
9 Day Cultural City Day Peninsula City
10 Church Church Food Century Museum Day
11 Century Restaurant Hotel Only Only Casino
12 Built City Church Building Day Hotel
13 Temple Old Street Airport Island Ama
14 Restaurant Shops Fort Gambling Trade Century
15 Old Taipa View Hotellisboa Fort First
16 Only Park Old Restaurant Street Stpaulsruins
17 Building Hotel People Island Gambling Available
18 Street Century Restaurant Bus First Garden
19 First Small Walk Food Coloane Only
20 Fort Fort Macautower Terminal Casino Building
21 Building Bus
23 Built Built
24 Food Street Old Peninsula
25 Stpaulruins Temple Museum Park
28 Art Penisula
29 Bus Meeting Food
34 Garden Taipa Fort
39 Building Restaurant
45 Hong Kong
46 Casino Bus
47 Hotellisboa Street
48 Park Stpaulsruins Bus
57 Only Museum
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Hong Kong and Macau. However, on the MGTO website, frequently mentioned. The sum of the frequencies of the
‘‘Hong Kong’’ was 45th on the frequent words list and this three words, ‘‘casino’’, ‘‘gambling’’, and ‘‘gaming’’ con-
discrepancy is intriguing. One possible explanation is that stituted 6.1% of all the words on the magazine websites,
MGTO is attempting to distinguish Macau’s image from exceeding the frequency of the ﬁrst-ranked word, ‘‘Portu-
Hong Kong’s. Words such as ‘‘city’’, ‘‘old’’, ‘‘built’’, and guese’’ (5.2%). The images projected by the MGTO and
‘‘building’’ were all ranked highly across the ﬁve groups of magazine websites appeared to be very different from each
websites. It can be inferred that Macau is being projected other. The words ‘‘museum’’, ‘‘facilities’’, ‘‘garden’’,
as a city destination that has many old buildings and ‘‘cultural’’, ‘‘shops’’, and ‘‘park’’ only appeared in the top
heritage/historical attractions. This heritage city image was 20 on the MGTO’s website. While these words are not
conﬁrmed by the analysis of visual information on these synonyms, one might argue that they are all related to the
websites. There were more visual images of the historic image of a modern, developed city. ‘‘Facilities’’ and
buildings in Macau (Portuguese buildings and Chinese ‘‘meeting’’, which are likely related to conventions, only
temples), and relatively fewer natural views and images emerged on the MGTO’s most frequent list of words and
(Table 3). phrases.
The ranks for ‘‘casino’’ and ‘‘museum’’ were very The words, ‘‘day’’ and ‘‘walk’’ were closely related in a
different for each website sub-category. For example, dendrogram drawn from the Ward’s cluster analysis of
‘‘museum’’ was the second most frequent word on the blog website contents. The dendrogram visualizes the
MGTO website, 6th on travel trade websites, 10th on travel groupings of words best representing their semantic
guide websites, 25th on the blogs, and 57th on magazine relations in the Ward’s cluster analysis. It also reveals
websites. On the contrary, ‘‘casino’’ was the 47th frequent where the clusters divided and the strength of each cluster.
word on the MGTO website, 20th on travel guide websites, The interpretation seems to be that the Macau travelers, as
11th on travel trade websites, 5th on the blogs, and 4th on represented in the results of bloggers’ websites, enjoyed
the magazine websites. These seemingly contradictory day-long walking tours in Macau.
rankings point to the different levels of emphasis being In terms of special attractions, the ruins of St. Paul’s
placed on types of attractions. The tendency appears to be Church was the most mentioned landmark in Macau.
that MGTO stays away from the ‘‘casino’’ destination Additionally, in the visual information investigation, the
image, while it is a fact of life that travelers (as image of St. Paul’s Church was displayed more often than
demonstrated in the blogs) are drawn to Macau’s gaming any other attraction. Tables 2 and 3 show the most
facilities. Another interesting observation is that the word frequently mentioned attractions in Macau travel-related
‘‘gaming’’ has been meticulously avoided on the MGTO websites. The ruins of St. Paul’s Church and the resort
website with a mere frequency of three times among the island of Taipa were at or near the top of the list of
3084 words collected from that site. On the magazine attractions for all ﬁve website sub-categories. However, the
websites, the word ‘‘gambling’’ was the 14th most rankings of the Lisboa, almost a synonym of Macau’s
Attractions in Macau
Words Combined total MGTO Travel trade Guides Magazines Blogs
Rank (frequency rate, %)
The ruins of St. Paul’s 1 (1.87) 6 (0.68) 1 (2.56) 2 (1.39) 6 (0.86) 1 (3.81)
Taipa Island 2 (1.72) 1 (1.58) 2 (2.09) 3 (1.39) 2 (1.72) 3 (1.41)
Lisboa (Hotel and Casino) 3 (1.26) 11 (0.51) 4 (1.01) 5 (1.18) 1 (2.41) 5 (1.24)
Largo Do Senado 4 (1.06) 4 (0.74) 13 (0.6) 4 (1.31) 5 (1.03) 4 (1.33)
Coloane Island 5 (0.96) 2 (1.13) 7 (0.77) 7 (1.05) 3 (1.38)
Penha Hill 6 (0.96) 40 (0.11) 20 (0.36) 1 (2.74) 28 (0.08)
Grand Prix 7 (0.77) 18 (0.4) 10 (0.66) 6 (1.1) 4 (1.12) 18 (0.17)
Macau Tower 8 (0.7) 16 (0.45) 15 (0.48) 21 (0.34) 14 (0.17) 2 (2.32)
Ama Temple 9 (0.69) 19 (0.4) 3 (1.25) 11 (0.51) 21 (0.09) 7 (1.00)
Barrier Gate 10 (0.65) 5 (0.74) 11 (0.66) 9 (0.72) 10 (0.26) 9 (0.5)
Monte Fort 11 (0.65) 13 (0.45) 16 (0.48) 10 (0.55) 7 (0.52) 6 (1.24)
Leal Senado 12 (0.49) 34 (0.17) 8 (0.77) 8 (0.8) 19 (0.17) 23 (0.08)
Maritime Museum 13 (0.44) 24 (0.34) 9 (0.72) 12 (0.51) 16 (0.17) 19 (0.17)
Kun Iam Temple 14 (0.4) 43 (0.06) 5 (1.01) 15 (0.42) 20 (0.17) 24 (0.08)
Jockey Club 15 (0.39) 10 (0.57) 6 (0.83) 25 (0.25)
Cultural Center 16 (0.36) 3 (0.85) 21 (0.36) 29 (0.21) 12 (0.17)
Guia Fort 17 (0.36) 20 (0.4) 28 (0.24) 13 (0.51) 15 (0.17) 14 (0.25)
Hacsa Beach 18 (0.35) 9 (0.57) 29 (0.24) 18 (0.38) 8 (0.34)
Kun Iam Statue 19 (0.35) 14 (0.45) 30 (0.24) 14 (0.51) 15 (0.25)
Macau Museum 20 (0.35) 28 (0.28) 22 (0.36) 23 (0.29) 17 (0.17) 8 (0.58)
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124 S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129
Visual information on the ﬁve sub-categories of websites
MGTO Travel trade Blogs Magazines Guides Total
Historic buildings and heritage 30% (57) 44% (64) 50% (86) 7% (1) 53% (9) 40% (217)
Cultural events and facilities 15% (28) 9% (13) 1% (2) 8% (43)
Parks and gardens 12% (22) 5% (7) 5% (29)
Shopping 10% (19) 2% (3) 1% (2) 7% (1) 5% (25)
Tourism facilities and infrastructure 25% (47) 10% (15) 13% (2) 12% (2) 16% (86)
Entertainment and gaming 1% (1) 9% (13) 5% (9) 27% (4) 5% (27)
Bird’s eye or scenic views 1% (1) 4% (6) 7% (12) 7% (1) 4% (20)
Local cuisine and dining 2% (4) 3% (5) 10% (18) 5% (27)
Recreation/sports activities, facilities and festivals 3% (5) 3% (5) 1% (2) 20% (3) 6% (1) 3% (16)
People and local residents 1% (1) 2% (3) 3% (6) 27% (4) 3% (14)
Others 2% (4) 8% (11) 8% (14) 7% (4) 29% (5) 6% (35)
Total 189 145 173 15 17 539
The ﬁgures in brackets indicate the number of picture image in each categories.
casino business, varied greatly. It had the number one The results were similar to those for the text content
ranking in the magazine websites, but was 11th on the analysis. Overall, the images on the Macau travel-
MGTO website. Overall, the most mentioned attractions related websites pictured Macau as a static and old
were a combination of the representations of Macau’s city, showing lots of old buildings. However, there
Macanese heritage and its casinos. Images of newer were fewer images related to recreation experiences,
attractions such as the Macau Tower were only frequently festivals, entertainment and gambling, and local people.
encountered on the blog websites. A narrower representa- Among the total of 539 pictorial images, only 27 were
tion of Macau’s attractions was evident on travel blog and local cuisine and dining, among which only three pic-
magazine websites than on the other three website sub- tures depicted actual dining experiences. While the
categories. destination was displayed as a place rich in heritage sites
and casinos, there seemed to be a lack of effort in
5.2. Analysis of visual information bringing Macau to life through interactive or experience-
based pictorial images. For example, although there
The visual information, mainly photographic images, on were numerous photographs of hotels, casinos and
the websites of the ﬁve different sub-categories was also meeting facilities, no photographs were found showing
analyzed. Mackay and Couldwell (2004) maintained that service encounters in which tourism and hospitality
photographs are vital to successfully creating and commu- professionals provided services and interacted with
nicating images of a destination. As explained in the customers.
methods section, to understand the projected Macau image Consistent with the text data analysis, the MGTO
more comprehensively, all the pictorial images from the website had more visual images about the cultural
sampled websites were collected and categorized into 11 events and facilities, parks and gardens than any other
sub-categories based on the results of preliminary textual websites. In addition, more images related to shopping and
data analysis and other research examining visual informa- tourism facilities and infrastructure were on the MGTO
tion (Dagostar & Isotalo, 1992; Stabler, 1987; Timothy & website than on other websites. Visual images of entertain-
Groves, 2001). The 11 sub-categories were: ment and gaming, bird’s-eye or scenic views, and local
people were less prevalent across all sub-categories of
1. historic buildings and heritage, websites with the exception of online travel magazines. The
2. cultural events and facilities (museums, art centers, travel magazine websites contained a much higher propor-
concerts, etc.), tion of images related to ‘‘people and local residents’’,
3. parks and gardens (places for relaxation from city life), ‘‘recreational/sports activities’’, and ‘‘entertainment/gam-
4. shopping, ing.’’ The number of visual images on travel guide websites
5. tourism facilities and infrastructure (transportation was smaller than for any other sub-category, while the
facilities, hotels, convention facilities, etc.), amount of text information was the largest. This appears to
6. entertainment and gaming, be consistent with ofﬂine versions of travel guides, which
7. bird’s eye or natural views, provide general travel and objective destination informa-
8. local cuisine and dining, tion in detailed, narrative format. However, given the
9. sports/recreation activities and festivals (e.g., Macau much less linear and more interactive nature of the web and
Grand Prix), potentially different expectations among online readers, the
10. people and local residents, effectiveness of online travel guides that are largely text-
11. others (maps, ﬂags, and other photographic images). based is debatable.
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S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129 125
5.3. Correspondence analysis proximity means greater perceived similarity (Whitlark &
A correspondence analysis was conducted to examine The results from a correspondence analysis are given in
the images of Macau on the ﬁve sub-categories of websites, singular values and the proportion explained by each
using the frequency table for the top 50 most frequent estimated dimension. Singular values are said to be a
words (rows) for each sub-category (columns), namely, statistical measure describing the number of dimensions,
MGTO, blogs, travel trade, magazines, and guides. The and they should be greater than 0.2 to be accepted as a
frequency rate for each word in each sub-category was viable dimension (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, & Black,
calculated and these were used as a distance measure 1998). The singular values for the dimensions extracted
among the frequently occurring words and the ﬁve website from the data indicated a uni-dimensional solution with a
sub-categories in constructing a correspondence map 0.31 value for Dimension 1 (Table 5). Fig. 1 provides
(Table 4). graphical information on the relative proximities of the
Correspondence analysis is often used in image studies frequently used words and the ﬁve sub-categories of
where the researcher wants to explore the relationships websites. On the graph, the ﬁve groups of websites
between brands (destinations) and attributes (Whitlark & appeared to be quite dissimilar, as evidenced by their
Smith, 2001). To display the attribute—brand (destination) relative distance from each other. The horizontal axis
association with a compelling visual representation, re- (Dimension 1) accounted for 60.1% and vertical axis
searchers can use correspondence analysis to reduce the (Dimension 2) for 19.1%; accordingly the associations of
multidimensional frequency data into a two-dimensional the frequent words and each website sub-category were
map. In this study, a correspondence map was used to mostly explained on Dimensions 1 and 2 (79.2%).
investigate the association of the projected images online Dimension 1 divides the website sub-categories into
by repeated word representation and the different cate- consumers or ‘‘storytellers’’ of the destination experiences
gories of websites. However, a two-dimensional positioning as represented by travel blogs and magazines, and
map may not completely explain the relationships among promoters or suppliers of the destination experiences as
the variables. One way to overcome this shortcoming is to represented by the travel trade and ofﬁcial tourism website
draw axes into the correspondence analysis map and the (MGTO). With respect to the words represented, the words
interpretation of these axes is very important to under- related to old city and stereotypical Macau images (old,
standing the map. With this style of interpretation, closer Hong Kong, Portuguese, casino, etc.) were located on the
Frequency rates of key words for each website sub-category
Key words Sub-categories
MGTO Blogs Magazines Guides Travel trade
Portuguese 2.8 6.2 5.2 5.2 4.7
Chinese 3.5 4.4 4.1 4.4 4.4
China 2.5 3.5 3.8 4.8 4.0
Hong Kong 1.0 4.8 4.4 5.0 2.7
Hotel 1.6 2.0 3.1 2.7 1.9
City 1.9 2.3 2.5 2.1 2.1
Due to space limitation, the rows are not exhaustive: only the ﬁrst six rows of the 50 rows are presented here for illustrative purpose.
Summary of the correspondence analysis
Dimension Singular value Inertia w2 Sig. Proportion of inertia Conﬁdence singular value
Accounted for Cumulative Standard Correlation
1 0.308 0.095 0.601 0.601 0.047 À0.047
2 0.173 0.03 0.191 0.791 0.049
3 0.146 0.021 0.135 0.926
4 0.108 0.012 0.074 1
Total 0.158 56.242 1.000a 1 1
196 degrees of freedom.
ARTICLE IN PRESS
126 S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129
left side of the map. On the contrary, the words connoting exception. This indicated that each of website sub-category
modern, culture-oriented, and developed images (interna- projected the image of Macau differently. The four clusters
tional, park, garden, Museum, style, etc.) were located on had some distinct underlying characteristics or purposes of
the right side. On the vertical axis, the words describing communication. The cluster close to travel trade contained
Macau travel experiences and tourist attractions (cf. good, many words related to sightseeing places such as temple,
small, temple, St. Paul’s, etc.) were positioned on the upper statue, museum and church. In the cluster near blogs, the
side, and the words explaining the geographical character- words were more related to the impressions and interesting
istics and accessibility of Macau (cf. peninsula, Coloane, points of Macau travel like day (trip), Portuguese, St.
Taipa, terminal, airport, etc.) were on the lower side. Paul’s, people and food. For the cluster nearer to
Dimension 2 also divided the website sub-categories from magazines, the words describing Macau as a gaming city
the viewpoint of information demand and supply. As in (for example, gambling, city, casino and hotel) were more
general, ofﬁcial tourism ofﬁces, travel guides and maga- noticeable. Finally, the words in the cluster close to MGTO
zines provide travel and destination information to the were mostly related to a culture-oriented and developed
travelers and travel intermediaries. city image such as park, garden, cultural, and interna-
When holistically examining the correspondence map, tional, and available. The travel guide sub-category was
the word variables seemed to cluster into four groups with not included in these four clusters representing the
each showing a strong associations with one of the website association among the words and website sub-categories.
sub-categories (MGTO, travel trade, blogs, and maga- The contribution of both dimensions (Dimensions 1 and 2)
zines), although the travel guides sub-category was an to explaining the variance of the travel guides variable was
quite low (27%). That is, the variation in the travel guide
sub-category was not explained well by the two dimen-
sions. Table 6 shows how the website sub-categories
corresponded to the dimensions.
6. Discussion and marketing implications
This study revealed the overall images projected of
Macau in the virtual information space of the web and
conﬁrmed that Macau’s tourism image reﬂected by
different sub-categories of websites was quite different. In
general, Macau’s image projected on tourism websites is
represented by the words, ‘‘Portuguese’’, ‘‘Chinese’’, ‘‘old’’
‘‘building’’, ‘‘Hong Kong’’ and ‘‘casino.’’ The Macau
ofﬁcial tourism website (MGTO) appears to reﬂect a desire
to outgrow the image of Macau as a side or day trip
destination from Hong Kong, by highlighting Macau as an
international city with abundant cultural resources and
modern facilities. Moreover, the MGTO website seems to
painstakingly extend Macau’s traditional association with
Fig. 1. Correspondence map for the frequent words represented on ﬁve gambling to a more wholesome or well-rounded city image.
website sub-categories. What is interesting is that the relative usage of the words
Dimensions and correspondence to website sub-categories
Website Sub- Coordinates Inertia Contribution to inertiaa Explanation by dimensionb
1 2 1 2 1 2 Total
MGTO 1.503 À0.392 0.050 0.440 0.030 0.839 0.018 0.857
Blog À1.075 1.456 0.037 0.225 0.412 0.572 0.333 0.905
Maga À1.045 À1.306 0.033 0.210 0.327 0.604 0.300 0.904
Guide À0.192 À0.629 0.012 0.008 0.083 0.060 0.206 0.266
TRTR 0.750 0.841 0.026 0.118 0.148 0.432 0.173 0.605
Active total 0.158 1.000 1.000
The table interpreting the dimensions and their correspondence to frequent words was not presented here, due to space limitations.
Proportion of dimension’s inertia attributable to each category.
Proportion of category variation accounted for by dimension.
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S. Choi et al. / Tourism Management 28 (2007) 118–129 127
‘‘casino’’, ‘‘gaming’’ or ‘‘gambling’’ was quite different ers, travel trade intermediaries, publishers, and travelers
between MGTO and the other website sub-categories. have different expectations and perceptions of Macau.
Since the gaming businesses in Macau generate more cash Dimension 1, which largely accounted for the relation-
than Las Vegas, nearly $3 billion a year (Haussman, 2004), ships among the variables (61%), divided the website
hotel and casino entrepreneurs from Western countries are sub-categories into MGTO/travel trade and bloggers/
paying keen attention to this small Asian enclave magazines. The bloggers’ viewpoints, to some extent,
supplanting mighty Las Vegas as the top gambling market represented the perceived image of the English-speaking
in the world (Velotta, 2005). The majority of tourists are traveling public, while the MGTO/travel trade’s choices of
visiting Macau for gaming purposes (Ung, 2000) and the words and visuals reﬂected the projected or intended
tourism infrastructure have been funded primarily by tax images of Macau. This dissimilarity clearly indicated a level
returns from casino hotels (York, 2005). However, the of incongruence in Macau’s destination image.
Macau government appears to be seeking new directions The past literature suggested that seldom do the images
for tourism. At a meeting with travel trade and media perceived by travelers coincide with the images projected
partners from Hong Kong, the MGTO stated its intention by suppliers because of various factors involved in image
to develop Macau into a MICE (meeting, incentives, formation processes (Andreu, Bigne, & Cooper, 2000;
conference, exhibitions) and leisure hub, as well as a Stabler, 1987). The results of this study provide further
tourism and gaming city (Macau Government Tourist empirical support for this ‘‘projected’’ versus ‘‘perceived’’
Ofﬁce (MGTO), 2005). In addition, Macau has recently image discrepancy of a destination. The images projected
succeeded in having its 12 historical monuments inscribed by the destination marketing organization (MGTO) were
on the UNESCO World Heritage List (Cultural Affairs different from those perceived by tourists. In addition, this
Bureau of the Macau S.A.R. Government, 2005). This study found that travel intermediaries, publishers, the
evidence supports this study’s ﬁndings that MGTO is destination marketing organization, and tourists project
attempting to attract diversiﬁed tourist groups and different online images of Macau.
promote Macau as a destination that offers much beyond This has signiﬁcant implications for Macau’s tourism
just gaming. The travel trade and travel magazines, marketers and also calls for future studies on the roles and
however, take a different approach with a primary selling effects of destination promotions through travel interme-
focus on the gaming experience in Macau. With the recent diaries and publishers. While the Internet has obscured the
development of gaming in Southeast Asian countries such identities of travel intermediaries, publishers, and destina-
as Singapore and Thailand, maintaining Macau’s compe- tion marketing organizations, there is no research to date
titive edge could be challenged. As such, it is strategically that deﬁnes and analyzes the online information role of
prudent for Macau to ground its destination image more travel intermediaries and publishers on destination image
broadly in Macanese cultural and heritage. formation. As noted in the tourism literature, online
Despite a considerable amount of visual information on information dissemination and access differs signiﬁcantly
tangible cultural heritage and tourism facilities, very few of from the ofﬂine, traditional media. This study lends
the images on the websites emphasized the tourism empirical support to the proposition of Govers and Go
experience in Macau. For instance, few images showcased (2003) that image formation agents need to be redeﬁned
entertainment and recreation activities or depicted inter- and categorized, and incorporating the Internet into the
actions with local people or service professionals. From a continuum of image formation processes.
study on the images of Southern Queensland in the US Perhaps the variation in the online images projected is not
market, Day et al. (2002) suggested that North American unexpected since DMOs, the travel trade, travel magazines
tourists were inclined to be motivated by the images and guides have different communication objectives and
involved with some activities and showing a sense of targets (Duke & Persia, 1993). However, there may also be a
authenticity in general. These included shots of nightlife, lack of adequate communications among the different
performances and cultural activities in city scenes, and industry players and marketers. DMOs can stimulate the
having friendly open subjects and interactions with locals use of speciﬁc images in a variety of ‘‘agents’’ with
in people interaction scenes. To attract more leisure- appropriate tools and are the indirect sources of information
oriented and different interest groups from various that continually act as communication channels (Day et al.,
countries, this study suggests that the Macau tourism 2002; Stabler, 1987). Macau’s destination marketers should
authorities and the travel trade need to provide more deﬁnitely take note of these differences when planning
interactive or authentic visual information highlighting communication strategies. In particular, there is a need to
leisure and recreation activities as well as various entertain- more effectively deliver the government’s desired image of
ment options in Macau. Tourism after all is an experience Macau to the travel trade, publishers, and tourists.
good. Adding shots of tourists and local people at the
destination will bring a greater sense of life and authen- 7. Conclusions and limitations
ticity to Macau in the virtual world.
The unique positioning of each website sub-category on This study uncovered the online image representations of
the correspondence map indicated how destination market- Macau by analyzing textual and visual information in
ARTICLE IN PRESS
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