The Image of Tourism Destinations: A Case of Dracula Tourism
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Destination image is a concept created by different demand and supply agents. The balance between what is expected and what is being delivered is essential in promoting the destination. The main goal of this study is to describe the different destination images related to Dracula tourism in Transylvania. This is accomplished by looking at the Western tourists’ expectations and demands as expressed in their travel blogs, and by analyzing the supply side through the elicitation of information from locals and Bran Castle tour guides through qualitative interviews. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the content, visual and audio information on sampled blogs and interviews. This method identified 11 different themes which captured the overall destination image. The themes focused primarily on historical and fictional images of the destination, on the type of tourists visiting Bran Castle, but also on the locals’ image and response to Dracula tourism. The findings of this study reveal that the majority of Western bloggers visit Bran in search for Count Dracula; however, the Bran Castle tour guides focus on presenting the historical truth. Local residents, although seeing Dracula as a national hero, sometimes adopt the mythical image as a marketing or product development tactic in selling to visitors. Nevertheless, the stakeholders involved in the creation of the image each fit into different destination image frameworks, allowing for the creation of an overall destination image based on historical and fictional elements.