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Social Media-Based Content towards Image Formation: A New Approach to the Selection of Sustainable Destinations

Author

Listed:
  • Mohammad Tipu Sultan

    (School of Media and Communication, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Shanghai 200240, China)

  • Farzana Sharmin

    (School of Media and Communication, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Shanghai 200240, China)

  • Alina Badulescu

    (Department of Economics and Business, University of Oradea, 410087 Oradea, Romania)

  • Darie Gavrilut

    (Doctoral School of Economics, University of Oradea, 410087 Oradea, Romania)

  • Ke Xue

    (School of Media and Communication, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), Shanghai 200240, China)

Abstract

When addressing the ever-increasing role that social media plays in generating a clear image of the travel destination chosen by tourists, the research and specialty literature tends to be rather limited. Despite an increase in social media-generated content, the process is not yet fully understood, although research suggests the importance of two different factors (i.e., tour-operator-generated content and user-generated content) in influencing destination image formation. In this regard, the present paper aims to examine the most significant factors currently affecting the potential behavior of travelers towards the selection of sustainable destinations. What is more, another purpose of this paper is to explore the effects that tour-operator-generated content and user-generated content have upon the formation of the overall mediating destination image through cognitive and affective destination images. For the current analysis, a structural equation modeling (SEM) method was used in order to test the conceptual model. Data from Shanghai, China ( n = 425) were used. The results demonstrate and establish that travel information sources (i.e., tour-operator-generated content and user-generated content) have a positive effect on destination image formation. The analytical results also revealed that in order to select a sustainable destination, travelers are influenced by tour-operator-generated content, as well as by user-generated content, with the effect of the latter being more important and influential. Travelers’ use of social media content has played a key role in the formation of the overall destination image through the mediating effect of cognitive and affective destination images. This research thus provides valuable theoretical and practical implications for academics and practitioners alike, implications which are valuable for the fields of destination marketing and management. Furthermore, practitioners of the management of sustainable destinations can thus make use of the results throughout the entire decision-making process.

Suggested Citation

  • Mohammad Tipu Sultan & Farzana Sharmin & Alina Badulescu & Darie Gavrilut & Ke Xue, 2021. "Social Media-Based Content towards Image Formation: A New Approach to the Selection of Sustainable Destinations," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(8), pages 1-22, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:13:y:2021:i:8:p:4241-:d:533976
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    References listed on IDEAS

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