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Tourist Destination Image in the New Technological Environments: Dialogism under the Public Relations Gaze

Tourist Destination Image in the New Technological Environments: Dialogism under the Public Relations Gaze

The dependence and influence of new media on social and organizational life have led to a new orientation of the communicational practices of organizations and to a research paradigm shift to a cocriational model within public relations theory. This model is based on dialogic rhetoric and dialogue that requires a joint production of content and meanings by organizations and publics, which have a central role in shaping image. The new social and communicational paradigms have also an impact on tourism research, implying the need to understand the role of new technologies, particularly websites, in image formation. The purpose of this study is to investigate the role of website in the formation of a tourist destination image (Portugal) through the understanding of the degree of adoption of dialogical principles on websites by official and unofficial tourist organizations and the identifying of denotative and connotative elements that are represented on published and shared photographs in these websites. The research corpus consisted of websites of entities and photographs published and shared on these websites. The methodology used is quantitative and qualitative, based on content analysis of data of websites and photographs. Results indicate that official tourist entities adopted the dialogic principles in a higher degree than unofficials. There is also a higher adoption of the principles related to technical dimension than dialogical dimension. Results confirm a relation between the adoption of dialogical link and an increased openness by entities to the possibility of photo sharing. The analysis of denotative and connotative elements of photography reflects a similarity in representations of entities and tourists. This study contributes to both theoretical perspectives, because it provides a conceptual scheme of destination image formation online and to a practical perspective, because it also suggests guidelines of dialogical practices to incorporate in websites of tourism entities.

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