VISIT INTENTION TO EMERGING DESTINATIONS THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING PROMOTION: THE CASE OF SAUDI ARABIA

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FAHAD MOHAMMED ABDULAZIZ ALHUQBANI
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The rapid occurrence of emerging destinations requires destination management organizations (DMO) to use various channels to identify and promote these destinations to tourists. A key barrier to visiting new destinations is the image of emerging destinations as places where tourists lack sufficient information and perception of new destinations. DMOs are attempting to all channels to promote tourist destinations, such as social media. With a plethora of information sources and the increase of competitiveness among destinations via social media platforms, promoting emerging destinations becomes difficult. Specifically, in finding credible sources that contribute to influencing the building of a destination image and behavioral intention to visit emerging tourism destinations. One of the factors that could influence the credibility of DMOs promotion via social media is by providing informative content. Another factor that plays a role in promoting tourism destinations that influence the credibility is the online travel community. The online travel community’s role in endorsing the information provided by DMOs about emerging tourist destinations through social media could influence the sources’ credibility. Based on destination image formation and dual process theory, this study explores how informativeness and online travel community endorsement affect information credibility of DMO through destination image which in turn affects emerging destination visit intention. 646 questionnaires were collected through online survey and used for data analysis. The target samples were from selected countries that applied for tourist visas. The study conducted confirmatory factor analysis, structural equation modeling, and multi-group analysis to test hypotheses through SPSS and AMOS. This study’s results show that 7 out of 8 hypotheses are supported. “informativeness” “online travel community endorsement” significantly affects “information credibility.” Also, the findings show “information credibility” significantly affects “cognitive iii image,” “affective image,” and “behavioral intention.” Moreover, “cognitive image” significantly affects “affective image” and “behavioral intention.” Finally, the results revealed that “affective image” does not affect “behavioral intention.”. Furthermore, the findings showed that the model could explain 55.6 percent of behavioral intention to visit emerging tourism destinations. The findings also indicated that participants using Twitter and percipients using different platforms to search for emerging destinations have partially influenced the model. Finally, this study adds a model that can evaluate the impact of these factors on promoting emerging destinations. It contributes to the understanding of the factors influencing emerging destinations’ images through social media platforms and the influence on tourists’ intentions to visit emerging destinations.
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