Keen are the eyes of the visitors, or are they?

Þórhallur Guðlaugsson, Elísabet Eydís Leósdóttir


Image is a comprehensive concept and can have different meaning depending on circumstances. The first messages that a country transmits is often through the image it has as a tourist destination. That image can influence how outside parties see and evaluate the country in other areas and thereby affect the building of its image in general. The image of a destination also helps create desires and/or wants among tourists and can affect the destination´s attractiveness since tourists are more likely to choose destinations that are thought to have a more positive image. Image is a subjective concept and its measurement can therefore be difficult. At the same time a number of authors have been writing about the importance of measuring it. The main objective of this research is to study the image of Iceland in the eyes of foreign tourists and compare the findings to earlier research as well as the perception of Icelanders themselves. Questionnaires were used and the findings are presented with the aid of perceptual maps. The main findings are, that on the whole, the image of Iceland is thought to be strong and distinctive and in accordance with earlier research. Natural beauty and landscape are very strongly related to the image and in addition to being considered a safe and friendly place to visit it is thought possible to experience adventures. Both groups hold similar images of Iceland but there are some differences. In general the image is stronger among tourists than Icelanders themselves. In this respect it is necessary to realize that the sample among the Icelanders was a convenience sample since a large part of it was university students. It still is interesting how similar the findings are.

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