M.Sc in Marketing Management
“Athens as an international tourism
destination: An empirical investigation to
the city’s imagery and the role of local
Supervisor: Mr. George Roumeliotis
Athens, September 2014
Academic Year 2013 – 2014
“Athens as an international tourism destination: An empirical
investigation to the city’s imagery and the role of local DMO’s.”
The aim of this project was to identify the role of DMOs in promoting Athens
as a tourist destination, as well as to evaluate their effectiveness in terms of
marketing and managing the tourist product of Athens, its popularity and
“ Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
As it is indicated in the title, this chapter includes the research methodology of
the dissertation. In more details, in this part the author outlines the research
strategy, the research method, the research approach, the methods of data
collection, the selection of the sample, the research process, the type of data
analysis, the ethical considerations and the research limitations of the project.
3.2 Research strategy
The research held with respect to this dissertation was an applied one, but not
new. Rather, numerous pieces of previous academic research exist regarding
the role of DMOs in promoting and managing tourist destinations, not only for
Athens in specific, but also for other tourist destinations in Greece and other
places of the world. As such, the proposed research took the form of a new
research but on an existing research subject.
3.3 Research method – Qualitative versus Quantitative
In order to satisfy the objectives of the dissertation, a qualitative research was
held. The main characteristic of qualitative research is that it is mostly
appropriate for small samples, while its outcomes are not measurable and
quantifiable (see table 3.1). Its basic advantage, which also constitutes its
basic difference with quantitative research, is that it offers a complete
description and analysis of a research subject, without limiting the scope of
the research and the nature of participant’s responses (Collis & Hussey,
However, the effectiveness of qualitative research is heavily based on the
skills and abilities of researchers, while the outcomes may not be perceived
as reliable, because they mostly come from researcher’s personal judgments
and interpretations. Because it is more appropriate for small samples, it is
also risky for the results of qualitative research to be perceived as reflecting
the opinions of a wider population (Bell, 2005).
The aim is a complete, detailed
The aim is to classify features,
count them, and construct
statistical models in an attempt to
explain what is observed.
Researcher may only know roughly in
advance what he/she is looking for.
Researcher knows clearly in
advance what he/she is looking for.
Recommended during earlier phases of
Recommended during latter
phases of research projects.
The design emerges as the study
All aspects of the study are
carefully designed before data is
Researcher is the data gathering
Researcher uses tools, such as
questionnaires or equipment to
collect numerical data.
Data is in the form of words, pictures or
Data is in the form of numbers and
Subjective – individuals interpretation
of events is important ,e.g., uses
participant observation, in-depth
Objective: seeks precise
measurement & analysis of target
concepts, e.g., uses surveys,
Qualitative data is more 'rich', time
consuming, and less able to be
Quantitative data is more efficient,
able to test hypotheses, but may
miss contextual detail.
Researcher tends to become
subjectively immersed in the subject
Researcher tends to remain
objectively separated from the
Adapted from: Miles & Huberman (1994, p. 40). Qualitative Data Analysis, available
Table 3.1: Features of Qualitative & Quantitative Research
3.4 Research approach
The research approach that was followed for the purposes of this research
was the inductive one. According to this approach, researchers begin with
specific observation, which are used to produce generalized theories and
conclusions drawn from the research. The reasons for occupying the inductive
approach was that it takes into account the context where research effort is
active, while it is also most appropriate for small samples that produce
qualitative data. However, the main weakness of the inductive approach is
that it produces generalized theories and conclusions based only on a small
number of observations, thereby the reliability of research results being under
question (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005).
3.5 Data collection method and tools
For the purposes of this research, in depth interviews were used.
In depth interviews are personal and unstructured interviews, whose aim is to
identify participant’s emotions, feelings, and opinions regarding a particular
research subject. The main advantage of personal interviews is that they
involve personal and direct contact between interviewers and interviewees, as
well as eliminate non-response rates, but interviewers need to have
developed the necessary skills to successfully carry an interview (Fisher,
2005, Wilson, 2003). What is more, unstructured interviews offer flexibility in
terms of the flow of the interview, thereby leaving room for the generation of
conclusions that were not initially meant to be derived regarding a research
subject. However, there is the risk that the interview may deviate from the pre-
specified research aims and objectives (Gill & Johnson, 2002).
As far as data collection tools were concerned, the conduction of the research
involved the use of semi-structured questionnaire, which was used as an
interview guide for the researcher. Some certain questions were prepared, so
as for the researcher to guide the interview towards the satisfaction of
research objectives, but additional questions were made encountered during
Some sample questions that were included in the semi-structured
questionnaire were the following:
Question 1: What do you think about the popularity of Greece as a tourist
Question 2: What do you think about the popularity of Athens as a tourist
Question 3: What have you done as an organization to promote Athens as a Tourist
destination? Were your activities efficient? (Please discuss)
Question 4: Do you think that Athens can become a more popular destination in the
near future? How it can enhance its brand name as a tourist destination?
Question 5: What are the main problems and Challenges of Athens as a Tourist
destination? What are the key advantages? What are these problems causing? Are
they affecting their activities for promoting Athens as a destination?
Question 6: What activities your organization applies for addressing the problems
that Athens faces as a tourist destination?
Question 7: In your view, which are the improvements that your organization should
made in order to increase its efficiency and for promoting tourism more effectively?
Question 8: What do you think about the role of Greek DMOs in promoting the
tourism in Greece? Do you have any recommendation for improvement?
Question 9: Do you have experience of DMOs in other countries? How they
operate? What can we learn from them?
Question 10: How do you manage the tourist product of Athens, except for
marketing? Do you pay attention to sustainable tourism issues? How do the city and
residents of Athens benefit from your management practices?
Question 11: Marketing and Destination Marketing can help Athens and Greece to
develop their touristic offer more efficiently? With what actions and programs?
(A detailed form of the interview guide is presented in Appendixes A)
3.6 Sample selection
The method of purposive sampling was used to develop the sample of the
research under discussion. According to this method, which belongs to the
category of non-probability sampling techniques, sample members are
selected on the basis of their knowledge, relationships and expertise
regarding a research subject (Freedman et al., 2007). In the current study, the
sample members who were selected had special relationship with the
phenomenon under investigation, sufficient and relevant work experience in
the field of tourism, active involvement in several tourism initiatives and
partnerships, as well as proven research background and understanding of
raw data concerning destinations. Within this context, the participants of this
study were executives of 6 famous DMOs operating both generally in Greece
and specifically in Athens, namely:
1) Greek National Tourism Organization (G.N.T.O)
2) City of Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB)
3) Athens Development and Destination Management Agency (ADDMA)
4) Athens Hotel Association - Attica (EXAA)
5) Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI)
6) Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE)
3.7 Research process
Meetings were held during April and June of 2014 with the executives of the
DMOs mentioned above, so as to gain acceptance of their participation in the
research. More specifically, the researcher came in touch with and asked
them to participate in the research after explaining the nature and the scope
of the study. In general terms the respondents were willing to participate in the
research and the interviews were conducted between May and June of 2014.
The discussions took place at the offices of the executives and lasted
approximately 20 to 25 minutes. During the interviews were mainly kept notes,
in order to help the researcher to analyze the gathered data.
During the conduction of the interview, respondents were free to express their
views even in topics which were not included in the discussed areas which
were mentioned in paragraph 3.5. Finally, it should be noted that the
conversations flowed smoothly and pleasantly.
3.8. Data analysis
Content analysis was used to analyze the data which was gathered from
personal interviews. According to Moore & McCabe (2005), this is the type of
research whereby data gathered is categorized in themes and sub-themes, so
as to be able to be comparable. A main advantage of content analysis is that
it helps in data collected being reduced and simplified, while at the same time
producing results that may then measured using quantitative techniques.
Moreover, content analysis gives the ability to researchers to structure the
qualitative data collected in a way that satisfies the accomplishment of
research objectives. However, human error is highly involved in content
analysis, since there is the risk for researchers to misinterpret the data
gathered, thereby generating false and unreliable conclusions (Krippendorff &
3.9 Ethical considerations
The current study was subject to certain ethical issues. As it was mentioned
earlier, all participants reported their written acceptance regarding their
participation in the research, through a signed Consent and Briefing Letter.
At the same time, sample members were asked to sign a Debriefing and
Withdrawal Letter. The aim of both letters was to reassure participants that
their participation in the research is voluntary and that they were free to
withdraw from it at any point and for any reason.
Next to this, participants were fully informed regarding the objectives of the
study, while they were reassured that their answers were treated as
confidential and used only for academic purposes and only for the purposes
of the particular research. Except from the above, participants were not
harmed or abused, both physically and psychologically, during the conduction
of the research. In contrast, the researcher attempted to create and maintain
a climate of comfort.
3.10 Research Limitations
As it is for every study, this dissertation had the following limitations:
The size of the sample was relatively small - 6 participants. A bigger
sample would probably enhance the reliability of the research
Qualitative research is not allowing the measurement of the examined
The analysis of the role of the DMOs in the promotion of Athens as a
tourist destination may be influenced by factors which were not
mentioned in this project
In some cases participants may refused to speak against their