The Impact on Tourism of Relations Among Peoples

05 Sep 2022
The Sasin Research Seminar series continues with a fascinating talk by Professor Alexander Josiassen, Professor of Marketing and Tourism Management at Copenhagen Business School, that examines ways to understand why tourists from one place are more likely to visit a particular destination than tourists from somewhere else. Professor Josiassen began by pointing out certain inbuilt biases and stereotypes people tend to hold. For example, a product from Germany or Japan might be seen as having a higher value. These inferences are also made about people, but he noted assumptions change with increased information and gave examples. The professor said we stereotype because it’s an evolutionary survival trait. Next, marketing images showed how products sometimes try to link themselves with locations to gain beneficial associations. For example, Tissot watches have the Swiss flag in the advert, and Volkswagen mentioned it was the product of German engineering but didn’t even mention the manufacturer’s name. People want to know the origin of their goods. This was followed by an introduction to signaling theory and the idea of costly signaling with multiple examples. Then the topic returned to stereotyping and looked at examples of sexism, racism, and the preconceived notions people may have about a people or place. This led to categorizing some stereotypes within a more theoretical framework where the professor charted higher warmth against higher competence. He explained some of the terms, typical prejudices found, and the emotions they evoke. Next, having explained some of the mechanisms behind stereotyping, Professor Josiassen looked at ‘Mental Representations’ and how it works concerning tourism. We tend to have mental representations of how we see things, such as brands or countries. Regarding tourism, people used to discuss an outdated concept called ‘Destination Image’. The problem is that the definition of the term differed, and people’s images varied. For example, there is a difference between someone’s description of a location and an evaluation of it. To fix this, they broke it down into three definitions. Destination Image is an overall evaluative representation of a destination. Destination Imagery is the cognitive and affective associations relating to a destination. Finally, Destination Affect is an individual’s overall affect attributed to a destination. They then tested the models, mental representations, relationships, and how they affected each other and influenced behaviors. He then looked at the differences in how people make decisions, such as systemic or heuristic. However, sometimes our biases overrule our primary decision-making processes, leading to what he calls ‘Mental Veto: Similar-Attraction Theory’. This theory relates to ethnocentrism, which can affect decisions and assumptions. For example, no matter how much people travel, they still find some things odd and think their way of doing things is the best. Another theory is called the ‘dissimilarity-repulsion hypothesis’. This is the idea that people might group together not because they are similar but because they are pushed together and repulsed by the difference of others. These theories led to a matrix for ‘The Attractive-Repulsion Theory’. The table looked at different types of tourism and the related attraction or repulsion. For example, tourism affinity as opposed to animosity. The professor gave the example of voting in Eurovision, which tends to have the same countries voting for each other as there is affinity. On the other hand, the Nanking region in China still feels animosity toward Japan – even though they think the products are high quality. This is why he called it a ‘veto’. He then looked at examples of Attraction-Repulsion Theory and aspects that affected behavior, such as xenophobia. This was followed by a table that looked at emotions tied to different attractions or repulsions and a brief look at the tourism affinity model. After the talk, there was a discussion on attractiveness toward aspects such as exoticism, attitudes, identity, and differences, and a comparison to similar studies. There was also a look at why people travel and whether tourist destination choices affect or result from politics.  
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