Do marketers use visual representations of destinations that tourists value? Comparing visitors' image of a destination with marketer-controlled images online

The study explores visitors’ image of a destination using online visitor-generated photography and compares the findings with images of the same destination that marketers create and control on the Internet. The two studies are conducted with Taiwan as the context-destination. Online visitor-generated photography yielded more than 100 photographs from visitors to Taiwan, and indicates that visitors’ holistic image encompasses notions of Taiwanese uniqueness, ancientness, and authenticity through their perceptions of the natural landscapes, traditional local cuisine, and culture. The second study yielded 1,526 visual image representations of Taiwan collected from a variety of website sources, and findings highlight the disparities between the holistic image construed by visitors to Taiwan and the image created by marketers on the Internet. The findings yield important implications for the effective positioning and promotion of tourism destinations as managers should consider visitors’ holistic images in their attempt to create destination images through online visual representations.