1 August 2013

A new project lead by The University of Queensland will enable the development of more effective tourism destination marketing plans through better consumer behaviour research.

The research was awarded $150,000 in the latest round of Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects and aims to develop survey question formats that require less cognitive effort from respondents.

UQ’s School of Tourism Research Director and Chief Investigator Professor Sara Dolnicar said a new survey design would lead to better market insight and improved business strategies for the tourism industry.

“It would also contribute to better tourism consumer behaviour theories and the collection of higher quality image data by market researchers for their clients,” Professor Dolnicar said.

“Destination image is a very important research topic in tourism because people’s image of a tourist destination affects their destination choice.

“In Australia, the tourism industry contributes approximately 5% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product and provides employment to over 900,000 people.

“Tourism destinations with strong images are far more resilient in times of economic crisis, but a strong image cannot be achieved and maintained without valid and reliable measures of destination image.”

Professor Dolnicar said destination image surveys are complex by nature because they require respondents to assess every destination on every attribute.

“If the way in which these questions are asked is boring, such surveys can be extremely tedious for respondents causing them skip questions or give random answers, which in turn contaminate the data,” she said.

“This research project will develop new destination image survey questions with lower cognitive processing requirements, ensuring high quality image data.

“It will also contribute practical guidelines for researchers in tourism and other disciplines to compare question formats and determine the best measure to use.”

The study will investigate the destination images of the top 15 domestic destinations in Australia in terms of tourist expenditure.

It is expected to be completed in 2016.

Professor Dolnicar is currently an ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellow and has an extensive background in tourism and social science research, including sustainable tourism, tourism marketing and social marketing.

Media: Claire Shuter, (07) 3346 9259 or c.shuter@uq.edu.au.