Image distinguishes a variety of people, organizations, and industries. It is shaped by environmental factors and the organizational culture. In the tourism industry image is a major factor to consider i.e. image is literally everything and it defines the relationship between the target market and the industry. Image can either build or annihilate this industry.
Australia’s tourism brand statement clearly speaks on behalf of the people of Australia by stating their strengths and associativity. It further distinguishes the uniqueness of the country as a tourist destination. Thus, Australians are portrayed as being hospitable and therefore integral. A friendly environment influences many travelers to feel at ease with maximum satisfaction when they are in Australia. In addition, the association of life and the country creates a longing, for any person, to be in Australia.
This paper covers the importance of image marketing as means of overcoming competition and means of improving economic growth, with more emphasis on tourism brand marketing and its impacts on Australia as a tourist destination.
Naturally, People are different in the way they perceive and respond to the various travel destination. This is expressed through their attitude towards a destination. In turn, this depends on the information or experience they have in relation to the destination. These sets of beliefs, factors or qualities in relation to a place form an image of a locality or destination (Ekinci, & Hosany, 2006). For a tourist, these factors include cost, people, products, state or government policy, and packaging and programmes available.
Brands- vary and can be in the form of names, signs or slogans- used are in the marketing of products and services. They are associated with certain specific traits, whether tangible or intangible, considered to have unique qualities by the user. These unique traits form the product’s image and personality. This implies that Brand image distinguishes products in the same mannerism as personality distinguishes people (Graeff, 1997:49). Therefore, brand image and brand personality are equivalent expressions (Patterson, 1999). Brands mainly consist of identity, image, essence, character and culture.
Tourism destinations, just like other products, are brands and are associated with a given set of brand personalities. For the tourism industry, Image is essential as it directly has a psychological impact on the number of people visiting a given place over a given period. It has to create an impression of satisfaction and persuade or have influence on the destination of travel to be taken by a potential tourist, thereby attracting new tourists, building confidence and retention of tourists (Fournier, 1998).
Importance of developing image for a destination
Due to the high level of the global competition, many countries have been forced to come up with survival strategies. Nearly all countries in the world have something to offer in the name of tourism. Therefore, this creates very competitive grounds for the tourism industry globally. For Australia to enjoy and maintain a humongous share of tourists, it is forced to adjust its strategy of attracting tourists (Aaker, 1997). The use of brands is a very common practice in the management of these industries and Australia is not an exception.
Australia has tourism advertisement strategies that incorporate TV commercials in 22 states. This is necessary for marketing and improving the tourism brand. Through such strategy, Australia has the capacity to showcase its full package of tourism industry i.e. inclusive of all possible tourist activities (Eastwood, 2005). This includes, but is not limited to mountains retreats, Parks, sporting activities, flora and fauna, and exploration.
Through Australia’s official travel website, the government has made it easy for information to be available for all visitors. The information is available in all languages and aims at assisting all potential tourists with information planning to visit and departure from Australia. Moreover, all visitors coming to Australia are informed of their rights and the possible areas they can seek redress, justice or any form of assistance. This creates an image that all tourists are cared for and protected by the Australian government
As result of the increased competition, tourism management requires a thorough research and understanding of the tactics that are necessary to market the products and destination. Therefore, brand image and personality have to thereby, the country’s economy is supported, and the management kept in business.
Tourism is a major economic booster and source of employment. Thousands of people are employed directly or indirectly through this vital industry. These people include tour guides, hotel personnel and rangers. Through this, tourism is a major revenue generation to Australia not only to the employed persons but also to the state. In the year 2003/2004, tourism contributed A$32 billion, translating to 3.9% of Australia’s GDP (Australian bureau of statistics, 2006). In addition, Tourism is known to be source of hard or foreign currency and can be used to facilitate trade between Australia and other countries. The majority of the tourists visiting Australia originate from Western Europe, Canada, Japan and South Korea.
However, for the benefits associated with tourism industry in Australia to be realized, the tourists must be frequenting the location first. Proper marketing or astonishing advertisement that can inform and attract tourists to visit can achieve this (Grey et al, 1991). Therefore, the potential and existing markets visiting Australia must be given the best image and tourism facilities available.
The Australian government has played a major role in marketing tourism and giving tourism positive global image. This has been achieved through events like the Sydney Olympics 2000, Rugby World Cup 2003 and Common Wealth Games 2006. These events are watched globally, and have to attract and thousands of tourists that visit Australia to date. In addition, hosting global events is known to generate large amounts of income due to the large influx of tourists and can be used for economic growth and development.
Moreover, the ability for a country, Australia, to host a number of global events creates an international perception of having adequate facilities for visitors and a safe tourism destination. These two factors are very crucial as there have been upward-rising threats of terrorism globally and with this in check, it translates to an increase in the number of tourists. Therefore, with proper brand image that Australia has attained as a safe tourist destination has opened the doors for other opportunities of hosting global events, this translates to high income-generating opportunities and economic growth.
Proper destination brand creates brand loyalty as in the case of the Australian tourism industry. Because of this, the country, regardless of the season has tourists. Moreover, with consistency of their brand image principle and proper advertising of Australia, the state has managed to win bids over global events. Therefore, brand image is useful in eliminating global competition as it has succeeded Australia.
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