Tourism product is an unusual product because it exists only as information at the point of
sale, and cannot be sampled before the purchase decision is made.
Its’ intangibility as well as
a high price and purchase risk require a high level involvement in purchase decision making.
Thus, the information–based nature of the tourist product, on the one side, and the global
reach, multimedia capability, ease of use, interactivity and flexibility, on the other side, made
of Internet “a prominent medium in tourism marketing” (O’ Connor, Murphy, 2004; Oh, Kim,
On the supply side of tourism market the Internet is actively used by hotels, airlines, travel
agencies, convention and visitor bureaus and other destination marketing organizations
(Stepchenkova, Morrison, 2006), because it is relatively inexpensive in comparison with other
promotion media (Standing, Vasudavan, 2000) and other distribution channel (cf. Doolin,
Burgess, Cooper, 2002; Lin, Huang, 2006).
The Internet offers great potential to influence consumers’ perceived images, including creating virtual experiences of destination.
According to Internet Week’s survey, more than two-thirds of the travel and hospitality
companies view the Internet site as a significant competitive weapon within their industry and
about 60 percent describe the Internet as being substantial in acquiring new customers
(Mullen, 2000 in: Baloglu, Pekcan, 2006).
• Information sources
• Previous experience
• Social (age, education,
marital status, others)
• Psychological (values,
Increased perception of cruises and guided tours
On the demand side of tourism market, an increasing number of people are using the Internet
for information search because the World Wide Web provides more in-depth materials and
richer content compared with conventional promotional agents (Govers, Go, 2003; Heung,
2004). There is currently about 17 percent of the World population that use Internet
(www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm, Accessed 30.03.2007).2
According to the TOMAS
research (2004), 2 percent of tourists that visited Croatia in 1997 used the Internet as
information source for the visit, while in 2004 this share augmented at 23 percent. The same
research also concluded that in 2004 Internet held third place as tourists’ source of
information (behind previous visits – 47 percent, and recommendation from relatives and
friends – 33 percent), mainly for younger tourists (up to age 29), and those in the medium age
group (ages 30-49) (TOMAS, 2004).
Due to that increased importance of digital information, the timing, costs and strategies for
distributing promotional messages have changed (Choi, Lehto, Morrison, 2007). In the preInternet
era destination marketing organizations (DMOs) were effective and influential in
media content placement and in the coordination of destination positioning initiatives
(Govers, Go, 2003). Since the Internet arrived, centralized control over destination
information dissemination is almost impossible. Therefore, it is necessary to research and
redefine the role of Internet and other information agents in shaping destination image
CONTENT AND CORRESPONDENCE ANALYSIS OF ISTRIA TRAVEL RELATED WEBSITES
Study background and objective
Istria is the most developed tourism destination in Croatia (Table 1). Tourism in Istria is one
of the most important economic features and priorities in the context of its long-term
development. There are two distinguished periods in the development of tourism in Istria, that
• First period, from 1965 until 1990, when natural and social values of Istria began to be
appreciated for the purposes of tourism. During this period, tourism continuously grew
• Second period, from 1990 until today. During this period, tourism in Istria experienced
huge changes due to political changes on global and national level. The changes involved
financial damages, loss of markets and revenues, as well as a struggle to revive
development processes and return to the markets of emitive tourism countries.
During the first development period, the basic feature of tourism product of Istria was tourism
product “Sun and Sea”, accommodation facilities of large capacity and generating tourism
turnover only during the summer months. During the second development period of Istrian
tourism numerous natural and social attractions are beginning to be used more significantly
and tourism product is becoming diversified. Master plan of Istrian tourism 2004-2012
(www.istra-istria.hr, Accessed 30.03.2007) has been passed with goal of initiating the new
development cycle of tourism in Istria. The Plan channels tourism towards preserving the
environment, different tourism products, extending the season, quality of offer with average
3-4 stars, as well as increasing employment and quality of life for the local population.
Besides Master Plan of Istrian tourism, the following programs and projects have been
developed with goal of valuing the overall tourism potential of Istria (www.istra-istria.hr,
• Farm tourism in Istria
• Wine roads
• Gastro tourism
• Days of Truffle in Istria
• Olive oil roads
• Bike tourism
• Brijuni rivijera
• System for promoting Tourism Quality
• Golf in Istria
• Stimulating development of small family Hotels.
Above stated programs and projects should contribute to better positioning of Istria as a
destination on the tourism market.
Because of larger spectrum of information sources and channels, representing destination’s
image has become more complex today. Thus, the focus of this research was to compare and
contrast the images projected by the official Istrian tourism website (www.istra.hr, Accessed
30.03.2007), and those of the travel trade and online travel publications (guides and
magazines). Travel blogs were also analyzed to reveal the dialectic view of both the trade and
the general travel public (Lin, Huang, 2006; Choi, Lehto, Morrison, 2007). The narrative and
visual information was analyzed through content and correspondence analyses.
Accordingly, the specific research objectives were to:
1. Identify the most frequently used words describing Istria as a tourism destination on Istria
travel related websites, and compare them across the different online information sources.
2. Identify the most frequently used visual information on Macao travel related websites, and
compare them across the different online information sources.
3. Examine how different sub-categories of websites project the images of Istria and provide
marketing implications if there are disparities in image representation.
Some previous studies have investigated the pictorial or verbal contents of promotional
materials from the perspectives of the research subjects after exposure to the messages (Day,
Skidmore, Koller, 2002; MacKay, Fesenmaier, 2000). O’Leary and Deegan (2005) argued that
content analysis of written information, such as guidebooks and travel brochures, could
provide a great number of information about the images projected by a tourism destination.
Online tourism information sorces were analyzed by a few researchers
Stepcenkova and Morrison (2006) examined narrative content of touroperator websites about Russia; Lin and Huang (2006) explored the Internet blogs as a tourism marketing medium; and Choi, Lehto
and Morrison (2007) analyzed narrative and visual contents of travel related websites. This
research was intended to go one step further, so that besides analyzing narrative and visual
contents of travel related websites, it performs correspondence analysis between different
online information sources.
In this research the sample of websites was selected through an exhaustive sarch of website
lists under the travel directories of Google from April 21, 2007 to April 25 2007. By visiting a
number of websites under the sub-categories such as «Destinations», «Guides and
Directories», «Images Galleries», «Publications», «Tour Operators», «Travel Agents»,
«Travelogues», «News and Media», «Blogs» and «Istria», the websites with Istria travelrelated
information were identified. Then, these websites were classified into four subcategories
according to the websites’ identities: travel blogs, travel guides, travel magazines
and travel trade. To avoid redundancy, some websites were eliminated from the sample. The
remaining sample of 39 websites included the official Istrian County Tourism Office (ICTO)
website, 9 travel blog, 13 travel guide, 8 travel magazine and 8 travel trade websites. The
website contents were saved as .txt files (for textual information analysis) and .html files (for
visual information analysis). After that, the text files and html files were merged into five
separate files for each sub-category (ICTO, Blogs, Guides, Magazines, Travel trade) for
further narrative and visual content analysis.
The text data was content-analyzed using a combination of software packages HAMLET II
(version 2.2.2) (Brier, 2006) and WORDER (version 2.1) (Kirilenko, 2005). To achieve
interpretable results certain grammatical and “stop” words, such as “the”, “is”, “I”, “also” and
so on, were excluded. After that, using WORDER plural nouns were replaced into the
singular form (e.g. “hotels” into “hotel”) and synonyms (and wrongly written words) were
transformed in one word (e.g. “amphiteatres”, “arena”, “coliseum”, “coloseum”,
“amphiteatre”, “amphiteater”, into “amphitheatre”). Finally, using HAMLET’s Wordlist on
data filtered by WORDER were possible to achieve list of most frequent meaningful words
for each sub-categories. The ranks of combined data were calculated based on sums of
frequency rate of each word in every sub-category.
The top 50 most frequent used words (combined) were coded into quantified data in SPSS for
The visual information were classified into 9 categories and compared across the five subcategories
based on frequency analysis and correspondence analysis.
Danijela Križman Pavlović, Ph. D.,
Alen Belullo, Ph. D.,