The Effect of the Host Society on the Tourists’ Image of Urban Public Open Space: A Qualitative Study in an Iranian Context
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Abstract:
Understanding interactions between the host society and tourists is an important factor in tourism cognition and management. Part of this matter is the effect that the host society has on the mental image of the guest (traveler) of destination. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of host society on the mental image of tourists about the urban public open spaces. This qualitative study has been conducted using content analysis approach. The participants were 24 domestic tourists in the city of Isfahan who had experience of visiting this city and its spaces. Data collection was done by semi-structured interviews and continued until theoretical saturation. The five main categories of data analysis were: 1) vitality, 2) host emphases on space, 3) self-introduction of host, 4) tourists’ sense about the host and 5) food. The results of this study will help the experts, tourism managers and urban designers and managers to better understand the tourists’ image of urban spaces and accordingly provide the context to improve the level of urban tourism.
Introduction
Tourism is a social phenomenon involved interactions and relationships between individuals, organizations and various interested groups especially between tourists and local residents (McGehee & Andereck, 2009; Sharpley, 2014). Interactions and relationships between local residents and tourists can affect their attitudes, expectations, beliefs and lifestyles (Sharpley, 2008). One of the most important issues influenced by the interactions between the host society (local residents) and tourists is the tourist's image destination.
Few studies have examined the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces qualitatively. To meet this particular lack of literature on the subject matter, this qualitative study examines the impact of host society on tourists’ image of urban public open spaces.
Methods
A qualitative study with content analysis approach has been used to examine the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces. Content analysis is a systematic approach to code and categorize that can be used to verify a large amount of textual information and determine the processes and patterns in the data (Gbrich, 2007). In order to ensure the accuracy of the data the long-term engagement with the data was considered by the researchers by which the depth and familiarity needed to extract the main themes would be provided. To ensure that codes are consistent with the experiences and mental images of the participants, the member- check was used. Interviews, initial codes, and themes were also judged by peer-check and expert- check. Discussion and Results: The purpose of this study was to understand the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces. In this study, by analyzing the statements of tourists in public open spaces, 5 categories were extracted as the dimensions of the effectiveness of the host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces. These five categories include: vitality, host emphases on space, self-introduction of host, tourists’ sense about the host and food. This research was one of the first qualitative studies that examined the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces in Iran.
Conclusions
In this study, concepts related to the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces were identified. These concepts included 5 categories and 11 subcategories. Since urban public open spaces (such as streets and squares) are among the most important destinations for urban tourism, understanding the effect of the host society on tourists’ image of these spaces is advantageous for groups involved in the management of urban spaces (such as urban designers) and in tourism management.
This research is one of the first qualitative studies to examine the effect of host society on the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces in Iran. However, because the data have been collected from limited sample and based on purposeful sampling, generalization to other tourists and dissimilar places (environmentally, culturally, and psychologically) is not possible. This study provided valuable information about tourists’ image of urban public open spaces. Given the fact that other dimensions affecting the tourists’ image of urban public open spaces are still not well known, the grounded theory approach is recommended for further research.
Article Type:
Research/Original Article
Language:
Persian
Published:
Journal of Tourism Planning and Development, Volume:7 Issue: 26, 2018
Pages:
8 - 27
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