This study explores the potential effects of online information search on tourists' destination image development. Specifically, the terms baseline image and enhanced image are proposed to distinguish the different stages of image development in tourists' minds before and after active online information search. A mixed-methods study, which asked college students to develop a one-week travel plan in China via online search, was designed. Results show that participants' overall image and affective image about China experienced significant and positive changes after online search, while cognitive image basically remained the same. Nevertheless, when asked to describe their image changes, most participants reported changes regarding their cognitive beliefs about China. Furthermore, the qualitative data evidenced the interaction between participants' online information search process and image development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management