Despite the growing importance of both destination image and event tourism, a research gap exists when the two fields are combined. Destination image and event tourism have been subject to separate research efforts in the tourism field, however there has been little evidence of research in how events can affect destination image. The thesis attempts to address the research gap that currently exists by using Canberra, the National Capital of Australia and two annual events in the Capital - Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade 2002 as case studies. The thesis illustrates the importance of destination image in regard to the destination selection process, the meaning and measurement of image and the growing interest in event tourism. Several studies have illustrated that destination images do influence tourists' behaviour and subsequently decision making (Hunt 1975). Image, among other variables can be the deciding factor in choosing one destination over another. In spite of the importance of this research line, several authors recognise a lack of an agreed way of conceptualising destination image. A conceptual framework of destination image was developed by Echtner and Ritchie (1991) which forms the foundation of the thesis. Although the framework has its flaws, it has been pointed out that the Echtner and Ritchie Destination Image Framework has been useful in the assessment of destination images. Importantly, how events can be used to influence the image of a destination is put forward. Canberra and its image, being the focus of the study, is discussed in detail with reference also to Tamworth and Sydney. Although much of the research into event tourism has focused on the economic benefits that events can provide to a destination, the effect an event can have on the destination image has not been well demonstrated. Research on Canberra has indicated various studies in regard to the perceptions Australians have of the destination, community attitudes towards Canberra and event related research, however the effect that events have on Canberra's image has not been addressed. The thesis incorporates studies of events to measure the effect that they have on the image of a destination. The two main studies were conducted in conjunction with the Centre of Tourism Research (CTR) at the University of Canberra. Two events, held annually in the National Capital, were the focus of the research - Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade 2002. Event attendees at the two events were the target sample consisting of both locals and interstate visitors to Canberra. Two key questions related to destination image were added to the existing questionnaires and were the focus of the research. Primary research commenced in June 2002 and concluded November 2002. Destination image responses were derived from both the Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade 2002. Results indicated that event attendees regard the two events as being very positive in respect to the destination image of Canberra. The Top 15 responses from both studies also indicate a positive correlation between events and the destination image of Canberra. The Top 15 image responses from the events indicated that events do have an influence on the image of the destination with many event related characteristics appearing in the Top 15 image responses. This was further emphasised when the results from the two events were compared to that of 'Australians' Perceptions of their National Capital' (Richards 2002). General destination images in all three studies were mentioned however Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade 2002 image responses were more events driven. The Perceptions study illustrated more unique characteristics of the National Capital along with National attractions. Further, the image results derived from Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade illustrates the notion of 'multiple' images that a destination may possess. It is postulated that events have a Life Cycle, and that their influence on destination image varies according to their life cycle stage. It was found that events that lay in the introduction stage of the life cycle have more varied image results that are directly related to the event itself. On the other hand, events that reside in the maturity stage possess strong images related more to the destination itself as opposed to the event. These 'older' events become synonymous with the destination and therefore images are associated with the destination. In conclusion, the research has illustrated that events do have an impact on the image or images of a destination. In this case, the image of Canberra was subject to influence from both Stegbar Canberra 400 and Floriade 2002 event attendees.
|Date of Award||2003|
|Supervisor||Trevor MULES (Supervisor) & Nicki Macionis (Supervisor)|