History and horses: the potential of destination marketing in a rural community : a study from Iceland

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Gunnarsdóttir, Guđrún Póra

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University of Guelph

Abstract

This thesis is an investigation of rural tourism destination marketing, in both domestic and international markets. It explores the role of image creation in branding a rural locality to its target markets. For this study, tourists were surveyed to evaluate how well the study area of the Skagafjörður region, North Iceland articulated itself to target markets. A Delphi study using tourism experts and practitioners was also conducted to identify the important elements for the development of Skagafjörður as a tourism destination. The results indicate that Skagafjörður is lacking a distinctive destination image, and shows that it is problematic for rural regions to develop a distinctive identity within their target markets. There exists, however, an opportunity to enhance the tourists' experience through local connections. Consequently, rural regions should utilize national and sub-national marketing efforts, while at the same time offering products that emphasize the unique characteristics of the region.

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Keywords

rural tourism, destination marketing, domestic markets, international markets, image creation, branding, Skagafjörður region, North Iceland, target markets

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