The image of towns in Australia from the perspective of tourists, residents and local leaders

Thomas, Michael (1998) The image of towns in Australia from the perspective of tourists, residents and local leaders. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The overall aim of this study is to ensure that sustained benefits to Australian towns result from the continued growth of their tourist trade. This can be achieved by providing a simple method of assessing the image, which, in turn, will improve the understanding that various groups have of their town image. To do this the thesis will build on a number of earlier studies using a mapping methodology deveised [sic] in the 1960's by Kevin Lynch. This methodology plus other methodologies will be used to examine the image that tourists, residents and local leaders have of a number of towns in North Queensland. Six towns in North Queensland are identified for the study based on a number of factors: their location on the coast or inland, there [sic] population size, and their road system type. The towns are: Cardwell/Hughenden, lnnisfail/Charters Towers, Port Douglas/Mareeba.

A review in the first chapter identifies that the study of towns in Australia is a neglected area of research in all disciplines, including tourism. In terms of tourism, the importance of the image of a town is discussed with reference to urban tourism, the use of cities as gateways and the spill over occurring now in Australia as tourists travel throughout the country.

A number of methodologies from other disciplines and the tourism discipline are examined in Chapter 2 and the need for a methodology which can capture the full range of image factors is recognised. At the same time the need for an emic perspective is identified. A multimethod approach using the mapping methodology of Lynch (1960) combined with the open ended question image methodology of Echtner and Ritchie (1993) is developed. This approach captures the full range of image factors of a town from the emic perspectives of tourists, residents and local leaders. The components of destination image studies are examined and simplified components are developed and used for the town image analysis.

An exploratory study uses the multimethod approach developed in Chapter 2 to elicit the features considered important by participants in determining the image of Cardwell. Research focuses on the image that two groups (tourists and residents) hold of the town as well as the usefulness of the questionnaire design and data collection method. A basic, supplementary and unique image are identified from the Cardwell data. The basic image of Cardwell was found to be focussed on the main highway through the town with the seashore and town park on one side and islands in the distance. On the other side of the highway shops, service stations, eating places and the hotel added more detail to this basic image. The supplementary image factors add texture to the physical image, that is, old buildings that need 'fixing up', untidy yards, the cleared undeveloped (at the time) space at Oyster Point. Social problems within the town, such as the perceived bad council attitude to Cardwell, unemployment, quality and service at eating places were also identified in the Supplementary image factors. Finally, the descriptive image factors showed Cardwell as a quiet, peaceful, slow, calm, sleepy, place which is unspoiled, pleasant, picturesque and attractive, while more negative descriptions painted the town expensive, boring, insular, dying and neglected. This chapter confirmed that the questionnaire design and data collection method were sound and that adequate data could be collected to determine the images of the selected towns from the perspective of tourists and residents.

Based on the lessons learned from the exploratory study surveys are carried out in the other five towns. The studies identify and compare image factors which make up the basic, supplementary images of each town and compared the combined image of each town with the other towns to produce a third unique image. A summary of the combined respondent images found a basic image made up of: the main highway, shops, hotels and some local streets, not named. For the supplementary image five image factors, upgrading the landscape, quiet, positive, town type and friendly, were frequent between towns. The summary also identified 22 basic image factors which were unique to one town only.

Finally, a model of an "General" town is produced from the combined data of the six case study towns. It is noted that with some modification that the "General" town image could be particularly useful for local government when inventorying their town assets for a tourism plan (a condensed version of the Hughenden image study was used for this purpose in the Regional tourism plan for the Shires of Flinders, Richmond & McKinley in North Queensland). Seventy basic, supplementary and unique image factors are identified in the "General" town model.

This thesis is important because it: adds to the destination image and urban tourism data base, develops a new multimethod approach which can be used to assess destination images, and provides a simple method to local government of assessing their town(s) image(s). In particular, it focuses on the emic perspective of tourists, residents and local leaders, and has identified few major differences between tourist, resident and local leader images of their towns. Finally, the procedures used in the thesis have been developed and validated regionally.

Item ID: 37577
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Australia; Australian towns; Cardwell; Charters Towers; communities; Hughenden; images; Innisfail; localities; Mareeba; opinions; Port Douglas; resident's perspectives; tourism; tourist's perspectives; townscapes; urban centers; urban centres; views
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2015 05:29
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1506 Tourism > 150604 Tourism Marketing @ 34%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1299 Other Built Environment and Design > 129999 Built Environment and Design not elsewhere classified @ 33%
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