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Title: Digital destination promotion : understanding and maximizing the use of digital and cultural assets to enhance tourists' decision making and destination marketing strategies
Author: Mitsche, Nicole
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 4573
Awarding Body: University of Sunderland
Current Institution: University of Sunderland
Date of Award: 2016
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With the overarching research question “how Information and Communication Technologies can be used to support a destination in improving tourists’ information search and decision making through the use of its digital and cultural assets” this thesis connects the three themes of eTourism, destination marketing and heritage tourism through a user-centric approach and the application of innovative technologies. The eight papers provided utilise and investigate the application of technology to improve the effectiveness and promotion of destination marketing and destination marketing organisations whilst, at the same time, improving user experiences. Interdisciplinary research focuses on the opportunities provided by digital and cultural assets of destinations to enhance destination marketing efforts. This research recognises and discusses the importance and challenges of the commodification process of tangible and intangible heritage as part of the marketing process. Methodologies appropriate to each of the research purposes were applied and data was triangulated to improve understanding. Quantitative data was collected through questionnaires, web crawlers and log files enabling the research to draw on analytical methods such as correspondence and cluster analysis, as well as data envelopment analysis (DEA). Qualitative methods such as workshop cycles, observations, and interviews were used to provide rich narratives analysed through content analysis. The results from the eight papers enhance destination marketing efforts by providing a better understanding of user behaviour and preferences based on travel personalities, travel and search pattern. They provide a clearer representation of the technologies, digital assets and e-Services available, discussing web site content and effectiveness. Strategies and innovative ideas to improve the current utilisation of digital technologies are provided based on the outcomes of the studies presented. Furthermore, a reflection on the use of intangible cultural heritage assets within destination marketing supported through the use of technologies is explored to enhance opportunities for destination marketing. V The research presents innovative and new ways to a destination to create new meanings and unique selling points (USPs) through cultural heritage assets and user-centric technologies. It introduces an interpretative strategy within destination marketing, and ideas to make the tourists’ holiday choice process more engaging. It enhances the understanding of on-line destination presentation, enabling comparisons between providers and improving their competitiveness. The main contribution of this work is new and enhanced insights how to improve on-line destination presentation by understanding its current representation and users’ search and behaviour patterns online and during travelling. It provides examples for the usefulness of ICT and cultural heritage in order to improve destinations’ marketing efforts. It also adds to the debate of the application of technologies for heritage interpretation and the commodification of (local) cultural heritage assets for destination marketing and tourism purposes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Tourism