Destination Branding as an Informational Signal and its Influence on Satisfaction and Loyalty in the Leisure Tourism Market
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The destination brand model is based on relationship marketing theory, signaling theory, and brand equity theory. The model proposed four major hypotheses: 1) destination branding has a direct positive influence on tourist loyalty; 2) destination branding has an indirect positive influence on tourist loyalty through tourist satisfaction; 3) tourist satisfaction has a positive influence on tourist loyalty; and 4) the relationship between destination branding and tourist satisfaction is moderated by trip types.
A sample population consisting of residents of Virginia was surveyed. A stratified sampling method and a random sampling method were used to select the sample. A total of 304 usable questionnaires out of 2,000 questionnaires were collected. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to test hypotheses in this study.
The results revealed that: 1) cognitive destination image and destination familiarity had a direct influence on tourist loyalty as well as an indirect influence on tourist loyalty through tourist satisfaction; 2) affective destination image had only an indirect impact on tourist loyalty through tourist satisfaction; 3) tourist satisfaction had a significant relationship with tourist loyalty; and 4) cognitive destination image, affective destination image, and destination recognition were moderated by trip types.
This study can initiate the development of theoretical foundations for destination branding. Also, the implications of these findings can help destination managers and marketers build competitive strategies for destination branding in order to ensure long-term relationships between tourists and their destinations.