Tourism & Management Studies, 15(1), 2019, 44-53. DOI : https://doi.org/10.18089/tms.2019.150104
Measuring quality regarding destination marketing: perceptions from local public stakeholders
Aferir a qualidade do marketing de destinos: perceções dos stakeholders públicos locais em Portugal
Andreia Filipa Antunes Moura
Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Coimbra Education School; GOVCOPP-UA; Rua Dom João III - Solum, 3030-329 Coimbra, Portugal,
Lisete Santos Mendes Mónico
University of Coimbra, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, Rua do Colégio Novo, 3000-115 Coimbra, Portugal
Maria do Rosário Campos Mira
Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, Coimbra Education School; Rua Dom João III - Solum, 3030-329 Coimbra, Portugal
Motivated by a few studies and international recommendations on
tourism quality, we developed a wide-ranging tourism quality scale,
adapted to the Portuguese situation. This paper focuses on the
development and validation of the marketing subscale to measure the
perceptions of local public stakeholders regarding marketing
approaches to destination quality improvement. A self-administered
survey was applied to a sample of Portuguese municipalities,
specifically 134 local public stakeholders, commonly considered local
DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations) and public policy and
decision-makers. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were
performed to measure quality regarding destination marketing, and
two factors were supported: (1) image and promotion; and (2) product
differentiation. The instrument demonstrated validity and reliability as
a useful measuring tool. The empirical findings highlight the
responsibility of local public stakeholders in destination marketing to
ensure the quality and competitiveness of tourism, providing many
useful insights for future research and practical and theoretical
Keywords: Marketing, DMO, quality, competitiveness, measuring
Considerando estudos e recomendações internacionais sobre a
qualidade em turismo, desenvolveu-se uma escala para a sua avaliação,
adaptada à realidade portuguesa. Este artigo foca-se no
desenvolvimento e validação da subescala de marketing para medir as
percepções dos atores públicos locais em relação às abordagens de
marketing para a melhoria da qualidade do destino. Aplicou-se um
inquérito a uma amostra de municípios portugueses, especificamente
134, geralmente considerados como as organizações de marketing do
destino (DMOs) e principais decisores políticos. Realizaram-se análises
fatoriais exploratórias e confirmatórias para aferir a qualidade do
marketing de destinos, e dois fatores foram apurados: (1) imagem e
promoção; (2) diferenciação do produto. O instrumento demonstrou
validade e confiabilidade, sendo uma ferramenta de medida útil. Os
resultados destacam a responsabilidade dos stakeholders públicos
locais no marketing de destinos para garantir a qualidade e a
competitividade do turismo, fornecendo informações úteis para
investigações futuras e implicações práticas e teóricas.
Palavras-chave: Marketing, DMO, qualidade, competitividade,
instrumento de medida.
Prior studies support the importance of quality assessment in
tourism (Papadimitriou, Apostolopoulou and Kaplanidou, 2015;
Lee, Lee and Lee, 2014) as one of the most relevant and
simultaneously intangible characteristics of tourism
development and competitiveness.
In the last decade, the European Commission (2000, 2003,
2016) has formulated recommendations and measuring tools to
assess the quality of destinations’ performance (QUALITEST-
based on the concept of Integrated Quality Management of
Destinations (IQM) and combines four dimensions: Tourist
satisfaction; Satisfaction of tourism professionals; Quality of life
of residents; Impact of tourism on natural resources, heritage,
among others.), and the United Nations World Tourism
Organization - UNWTO (2007) developed suggestions and
practical guides, namely “A Practical Guide to Tourism
Destination Management", aiming to raise awareness about
the importance of quality in tourism management, especially
for local stakeholders. The UNWTO in particular, defines the
following assessment dimensions: (i) strategy (situation
assessment, vision definition, goals and targets); (ii) positioning
and brand of destination; (iii) marketing and web-marketing;
(iv) product development; (v) quality of the tourism experience;
(vi) information management and e-business; and, (vii) DMO
(UNWTO, 2007). Interestingly, these guidelines are remarkably
connected with marketing concerns, implying its interest and
significance as a key element for tourism quality and
consequently for destination competitiveness.
Based on these orientations, we created a quality assessment
scale, organized by subscales: (1) economics, (2) training/
education, (3) products, (4) development and (5) marketing
(European Commission, 2016; UNWTO, 2007), to measure the
performance of Portuguese destinations. However, it is
important to underline that researchers and experts do not
agree about the most suitable or adequate factors for quality
Moura, A. F. A., Mónico, L. S. M. & Mira, M. R. C. (2019). Tourism & Management Studies, 15(1), 44-53
measurement (Zeithaml, 1988). Therefore, this proposal
follows a common recommendation from the international
organisations referred to: to be useful and actually employed
by local decision-makers and entrepreneurs and to allow
comparison of results between destinations.
In this paper, we focus on the marketing subscale, since the
literature reveals its transversal and primordial role for the
quality and sustainable growth of tourism destinations.
Furthermore, as local decision-makers are the basis for
creation, promotion and commercialisation of tourism
services and products and are then responsible for ensuring
their quality, value and identity while stimulating their
differentiation (Stylidis, Sit, and Biran, 2016), they were
considered the preferred target audience to apply a
Therefore, our goal is to understand the marketing factors
structuring the tourism quality process, from the perspective of
the local coordination or management bodies, which in
Portugal, are assumed to be municipalities. Therefore, we aim
to analyse the psychometric properties of the marketing
dimension, which we called “Destination Marketing Strategy
Subscale”, considering a broader measuring scale for
destinations’ tourism quality. We believe this research will
allow Portuguese tourism marketers and others to evaluate
their marketing status quo and clarify its factors, as well as to
contribute to the development of marketing programs focused
on overcoming the tourism sector’s difficulties and needs.
2. Theoretical background
Marketing is essential for the competitiveness of destinations,
being consequently a fundamental element of tourism
quality. According to Dwyer and Kim (2003) and Ritchie and
Crouch (2010), tourism competitiveness is inevitably
associated with quality, as it is destinations’ capacity to
develop improved overall experiences for tourists in
comparison to others (Wong, 2017).
That is, tourists may be attracted and motivated enough to
travel to a particular destination, but their ability to consolidate
a profitable demand depends, in one hand, on the quality of
products and services provided to the customer, and on the
other hand, on the information available, accessible
communication, effective promotion or overall marketing
strategy. In the last decades, mainstream marketing literature
has focused on market-oriented strategies as the paramount
paradigm for organisations, failing to include different market
clusters as destinations (Line and Wang, 2017). In the speciﬁc
context of destinations, there are several "microclusters" or
local stakeholders with powerful means to enhance
competitiveness, influencing quality, differentiation and
innovation (Garrod and Fyall, 2017).
Hence, recent studies carried out by Line and Wang (2017)
suggest destination marketing should extrapolate conventional
marketing contexts, as it ideally includes internal and external
stakeholders in order to be effective. Bearing in mind that
internal stakeholders are Destination Management or
Marketing Organizations (DMO) and external stakeholders are
local public and private businesses, organisations and
communities, it seems crucial to extend traditional
customer/competitor-focused marketing research to multi-
stakeholder market orientation (MSMO) (Line and Wang,
2017). This MSMO approach may actually embrace the inherent
complexity of tourism destinations, as it highlights the
organization-wide commitment to value creation, considering
the needs of local stakeholders and relevant communication
across markets (partners, competitors and consumers) (Line
and Wang, 2017).
In many European destinations, local stakeholders, particularly
municipalities, play a decisive role in this domain. Municipalities
serve as local DMOs and are responsible for their regions’
destination marketing. Interestingly, these “bottom-up”
management structures may benefit from stronger social
capital among key stakeholders and achieve better marketing
results (Garrod and Fyall, 2017). Nevertheless, it must be taken
into consideration that DMOs are (a) more than management
and/or marketing; (b) not static; and (c) context-dependent
(Jørgensen, 2017). Consequently, municipalities hold several
different roles in a destination, change dynamically according
to the context and needs of the destination and adapt to
external relations, policies and practices.
The conception of marketing strategies in these circumstances
is exceptionally challenging, as these local DMOs must: (1) be
capable of supporting tourism development and quality
(Pearce, 2013); (2) be able to market themselves more
successfully than their competitors (Wong, 2017); (3) be
(re)active to current needs and future trends in the sector
(Uşaklıa, Koça and Sönmezb, 2017); and even (4) be aligned
with national and international tourism policies; but also (5) be
aware of their limitations (Wong, 2017).
Being competitive requires quality, so perceived quality from
the marketing management point of view is decisive for
strengthening the positioning of tourism destinations, directly
influencing their ability to attract and shape customer loyalty
(Hallak, Assaker and El-Haddad, 2018). In this context,
marketing represents a positive change for destinations,
implementing new and innovative orientations and procedures
for tourism development and improvement.
The literature emphasises the importance of local DMOs and
highlights new organisational and structural trends for
destinations that deserve further research, particularly
regarding the perception of local public decision-makers who
embody DMOs. In Portugal, these structures are supported by
municipalities, whose articulated action at the local level
creates, promotes and markets tourist services and products
in a given region, and ensures quality and identity, leading to
differentiation (Stylidis, Sit, and Biran, 2016). Additionally, the
analysis of competitive conditions and market positioning
Moura, A. F. A., Mónico, L. S. M. & Mira, M. R. C. (2019). Tourism & Management Studies, 15(1), 44-53
have aroused interest in understanding the perceptions of
decision-makers about what they value in tourist
development, which aspects they attach importance to and
how they perceive their involvement in this process (Hallak,
Assaker and El-Haddad, 2018).
Measuring and understanding the sensitivity of Portuguese
municipalities, acting as DMOs, concerning destination
marketing strategy was the main goal of the present research,
responding to the challenge raised by several authors and both
the European Commission and the UNWTO, which suggest the
conception of specific and adapted measuring instruments for
different territories, cultures and populations, considering
destination quality analysis. This was the motivation supporting
the present research, which was based on the previously
mentioned instruments and from which we aim to present and
discuss the destination marketing strategy.
3. Research design: developing an instrument to evaluate
destination marketing quality
The proposed “Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale” was
tested in one hundred and twenty-five municipalities,
corresponding to 40.6% of all Portuguese municipalities (N = 308).
In these municipalities, 134 participants answered the survey (see
Table 1). Most respondents were aged from 35 to 49 years old
(65.7%), and there were more females (57.5%) than males (42.5%).
The majority are Senior Technicians (59.7%) and above 80% work
in the local authority tourism department (81.3%) and have been
working there for more than 10 years (56.7%). Most of them hold
a permanent position (63.4%) and have higher education
qualifications at the degree level (50.0%), followed by a master
(20.1%) or a postgraduate degree (21.6%).
Table 1 - Characterization of participants from the 125 Portuguese municipalities [N = 134 participants]
Between 18 and 24 years
Between 25 and 34 years
Between 35 and 49 years
Between 50 and 64 years
Over 64 years
Length of service in the Municipality:
Up to 1 year
From 1 to 5 years
From 5 to 10 years
More than 10 years
Positions in the Municipality:
Employment regime of workers in the Municipality:
Temporary employment contract
Permanent employment contract
Individual work contract
Director of services and equivalent positions
Head of Division
Sub director, Director General and equivalent positions
Basic education (9th year)
Secondary Education (12th year)
Moura, A. F. A., Mónico, L. S. M. & Mira, M. R. C. (2019). Tourism & Management Studies, 15(1), 44-53
The “Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale” was designed
considering the European Commission (2000, 2003, 2016) and the
United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2007, 2010)
These international references highlight that satisfactory and
memorable tourist experiences depend on the combination of
several factors that must be grounded on premises or dimensions
of tourism quality, such as (i) economic growth, (ii) human
resources training and education, (iii) product enhancement, (iv)
integrated development and (v) marketing strategy (European
Commission, 2016; UNWTO, 2007). In order to be competitive,
destinations need quality, which in turn, is often supported by
marketing strategies. Therefore, integrated analysis led to a set of
items being introduced in this subscale. Moreover, the presented
questionnaire was also supported by the authors’ previous
research on the analysis of competitiveness indicators of
destinations adapted to the Portuguese situation (Mira, Breda,
Moura and Cabral, 2017; Mira, Mónico, Moura and Breda, 2017;
Mira, Mónico and Moura, 2017; Mira, Moura and Breda, 2016).
Local public stakeholders were considered as the target population
since the literature suggests that tourism competitiveness involves
the active participation of stakeholders in the definition of policies,
planning and strategic orientation for destinations. For this reason,
the importance of assessing the quality of destinations through
indicators that reflect the concerns of DMOs at the local level is
emphasised. Portuguese municipalities have many of these
responsibilities in the territories they manage, including in the
tourism sector. Knowing their perception about indicators that
assess destination marketing strategy was the foundation for
building this questionnaire.
The main procedures in the construction of a measurement scale
were followed, including the design and execution of different
studies for development and improvement of the questionnaire,
which led to the final version of the scale (Urbina, 2014). Likert’s
recommendations (1932) in the construction of scales were also
followed. Thus, based on the literature review, a set of items that
expressed opinions about the marketing dimension of quality in
tourism were created, having selected 25 that showed a favourable
or unfavourable position (see appendix). Then, a sample described
in Table 1 was asked to evaluate each of them using a 5-point Likert
scale (from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). The
questionnaire also included a set of questions to determine the
socio-demographic profile of respondents.
The data used in this study were collected, taking into account
ethical issues such as participants’ anonymity and data
confidentiality, as well as the avoidance of bias.
An online version of the questionnaire was built using Google
Forms and sent by e-mail to all Portuguese municipalities. The
average time of response was 12 minutes. Control of the responses
was carried out monthly through the ‘Municipality’ variable,
sending a reminder to the municipalities that had not yet
responded and stressing the importance of their participation in
the study. The questionnaire had the instruction that it should be
filled in by municipal representatives with responsibilities in
tourism. Information on the objectives of the study, completion
instructions, and the voluntary and anonymous nature of
participation and the guarantee of data confidentiality were also
included at the beginning of the questionnaire.
3.4 Data analysis
All the analyses were completed using IBM® SPSS® Statistics,
version 22 (IBM Corp., 2013) software, and IBM® SPSS® AMOS,
version 22 (IBM Corp., 2013) for Windows operative system.
Outliers were analysed according to the Mahalanobis squared
distance (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2013), with no relevant values
being found. The normality of the variables was assessed by the
coefficients of skewness (Sk) and kurtosis (Ku), showing that no
variable presented values violating normal distribution, namely
|Sk|< 2 and |Ku| < 3.
Exploratory factor analysis was performed using SPSS by PCA –
Principal Component Analysis. The PCA assumptions were tested
through the sample size (ratio of 5 subjects per item and at least
100 participants; Urbina, 2014), the normality and linearity of the
variables, factoriability of R, and sample adequacy (Tabachnick and
Fidell, 2013). Since we intend to retain as many independent
factors as possible, we chose the VARIMAX rotation method with
Confirmatory factorial analysis was performed with AMOS (v. 22.0,
SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL; Arbuckle, 2013), using the maximum
likelihood estimation method (Jöreskog and Sörbom, 2004).
Goodness of fit was analysed by the indexes of NFI (Normed of fit
index; good fit > .80; Schumacker and Lomax, 2010), SRMR
(Standardized Root Mean Square Residual; appropriate fit<.08;
Schumacker and Lomax, 2010), TLI (Tucker-Lewis Index - TLI;
appropriate fit > .90; Kline 2011), CFI (Comparative fit index; good
fit > .90; Hair, Anderson, Tatham, and Black, 2004), CMIN/DF (good
fit < 2; Schumacker and Lomax, 2010), and RMSEA (Root Mean
Square Error of Approximation; good fit < .05; Kline 2011). The fit
of the model was improved by modification indices (MI; Urbina,
2014), leading to a correlation of the residual variability between
variables with the highest MI. We followed Arbuckle’s proposal
(2013), which consists of analysing the MIs by their statistical
significance (α < 0.05).
Reliability was calculated by Cronbach's alpha. Reliability
coefficients higher than .70 were considered acceptable for
convergence and reliability (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, and Black,
2004). In general, the value of .80 was taken as a good reliability
indicator (Urbina, 2014). The composite reliability and the average
variance extracted for each factor were evaluated as described in
Schumacker and Lomax (2010).
Measurements of constructs in the framework were subject to
exploratory factor analysis because the scale items were either
developed or adapted from previous studies. Principal axis
factoring was used as the extraction method to maximise the
distinctiveness of factors. Table 2 shows the psychometric
properties of each variable in the measurement model. As a
combination of the measurement and path models, the structural
model was examined using conﬁrmatory factor analysis. The
goodness-of-ﬁt statistics indicated that the structural model ﬁts the
data well (see Table 3). The structural model with path estimates is
shown in Figure 1.
4.1 Exploratory factor analysis
The requirements necessary for reliable interpretation of PCA
were analysed. Since the questionnaire we used has 25 items,
the ratio found was 134 subjects/25 items = 5.36 subjects/item,
which enables, a priori, reliable use of PCA (Urbina, 2014).
Additionally, the intercorrelation matrix differed from the
identity matrix, since Bartlett’s test showed an X2(300) =
1466.23, p<.001, and the sampling was adequate – the value
obtained for the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure was .852,
higher than the required value of .70.
According to the eigenvalue criterion over one, a six-factor
solution emerged, responsible for 63.73% of the total variance.
However, this factorial solution was not interpretable.
Moreover, factorial loadings (s) showed the following items as
less representative of each factor (s<.50; Tabachnick and Fidell,
2013) or less discriminative (factorial loadings similar in two or
more factors):6 – ‘It is characterised as a pole of attraction of
scientific events’; 7 – ‘It is characterised as a pole of business
attraction’; 15 – ‘It is characterised as a pole of attraction of
nautical tourism’; 16 – ‘It is preferentially directed to the
international market’; 17 – ‘It is preferentially directed to the
national market’; and 23 – ‘I consider that tourism in my county
has much quality’. Another criterion for excluding these items
was the improvement of the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient after
With the remaining 19 items, the scree plot suggested a
solution of two main factors, responsible for 45.62% of the total
variance, with the first factor explaining 26.81% of the total
variance, and the second factor 18.81%. Factorial loadings (s)
are higher than .50 (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2013) in all items,
except for item 8, with a factorial loading of .48 in Factor 2 (see
Table 2). However, this score is acceptable considering the
sample size (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, and Black, 2004), since
our sample has a total N between 120 (s> .50) and 150 (s > .45;
Hair et al., 2004, p. 107).
As seen in Table 2, Factor 1 is composed of 10 items related to
destination branding and positioning, promotional activities
and tourist information, so this factor was designated as ‘Image
and Promotion’. Factor 2 was named ‘Product Differentiation’
since it includes 9 items corresponding to destination potential,
uniqueness and poles of attractiveness.
Table 2 - PCA of the Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale: Factorial loadings of Factor 1 and Factor 2, communalities (h2),
eigenvalues, and explained variance of the rotated component matrix
Image and Promotion
4. The marketing channels of our tourist destination are adequate.
3. Tourism promotion campaigns are adequate.
2. Tourism promotion campaigns have been carried out.
25. Tour operators systematically promote our municipality.
19. The diversity of tourist facilities has contributed to the loyalty of tourists.
24. The tourist information is of high quality.
18. The products of local communities are well publicised.
21. There are market studies on the positioning of our destination.
1. Our tourist destination is seen as a well-known brand.
20. The information on the tourist agents of the county is updated periodically.
9. It is characterised as a pole of attraction of cultural and landscape tourism.
11. It is characterized as a pole of attraction of nature tourism.
13. It is characterized as a pole of attraction for health and well-being tourism.
12. It is characterized as a pole of attraction for sport tourism.
22. I consider that my municipality has great tourist potential.
10. It is characterized as a pole of attraction for social tourism (e.g., senior
tourism, accessible tourism).
14. It is characterized as a pole of attraction for gastronomic tourism and wines.
5. It is urgent that our county assert itself on the international scene as a
potential tourist destination.
8. It is characterised as a pole of attraction for religious tourism.
% of explained variance
4.2 Confirmatory factor analysis
CFA was performed in order to test the fit of the factorial
solution found by EFA (see fit indices for model 1 in Table 3, no
error terms correlated). For model 1, only the SRMR index
showed an acceptable fit. Based on the highest modification
indices inside each factor, error terms were correlated in model
2, as shown in Figure 1. This covariation indicates non-random
measurement errors, which may result from items’ similarities
(e.g., semantic redundancy), sequential positioning in the scale
and the specific characteristics of respondents (Jöreskog and
Sörbom, 2004). Model 2 showed an acceptable fit (see Table 3,
Table 3 - Fit statistics of the three-factor model for Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale
2.16* (df = 151)
.079 - .107*
1.64* (df = 145)
.053 - .085*
X2 chi-square, df degrees of freedom, NFI normed fit index, CFI comparative fit index, PNFI parsimony normed fit index, SRMR standardized
root mean square residual, RMSEA root mean square error of approximation, CI confidence interval, * p< .05
Standardised regression weights and squared multiple
correlations of model 2 are shown in Figure 1. Standardised
regression weights ranged from .40 to .83 and squared multiple
correlations from 16% to 69%.
Figure 1 - CFA for Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale (model 2): standardised regression weights and squared multiple
The Cronbach alpha for the global scale and Factor 1 are good,
since they were above .80 (see Table 4), and acceptable for
factor 2, since it is higher than .70. Composite reliability was
also good, since higher than .70. Concerning the average
variance extracted (AVE), only factor 1 exceeds the cut-off value
of .40, showing an acceptable convergent validity
(Diamantopoulos and Siguaw, 2000). The mean score for the
Global scale showed a value slightly above the mid-point of the
Likert scale options. The scores for both factors were similar, F2
- Product Differentiation having the highest score.
Table 4 - Composite reliability (CR), average variance extracted (AVE), Cronbach's Alpha (α), means (M), standard deviations
(SD), and intercorrelations among factors (R2 between brackets) for Destination Marketing Strategy Subscale
* p< .001
5. Discussion and implications
The results indicate that ‘image and promotion’ (F1) and
‘product differentiation’ (F2) are the most important
dimensions of destination marketing strategies, for the local
public stakeholders in Portugal.
Considering F1, the research findings revealed that destination
image plays a central role in a marketing strategy definition and
that this is built on brand, positioning and tourist facilities which
contribute to customer loyalty. These outcomes agree with the
studies by Dwyer and Kim (2003) and Yangyang, Haywantee, Felix
and Shanfei (2017), which support destination environment,
services and facilities as the critical features for destination
image. Yangyang et al. (2017) add that destination image is the
combination of the opinions, thoughts and perceptions an
individual has of a specific setting, which is intrinsically blended
with branding and positioning. Additionally, Pike (2017)
concluded that destination branding and positioning is even more
difficult these days, given the challenge of reaching the minds of
busy consumers and the great difficulty of changing individuals’
perceptions, advising destination marketers to (i) preserve
determinant attraction poles for which the destination is
positively perceived, and (ii) act strongly and consistently in every
marketing communication channel in the long term. In this
context, the results revealed that local public stakeholders in
Portugal agree with these latest trends, settling destination
image with destination promotion, which in turn, relates to
marketing communication channels, namely promotional
campaigns and publicity, in line with tourism distribution
channels such as tour operators and tourist information.
Regarding F2, the results accentuate the relevance of
exceptionality and preserving authenticity in tourism
destinations since Portuguese local tourism decision-makers
underline as the main foundation for the marketing strategy the
territory’s potential and attractiveness, precisely through
particular added value resources that may be transformed into
tourism products such as culture, landscape, nature, health and
well-being, sport, gastronomy, wine, religion and social care or
hospitality. Corroborating these findings Abou-Shouk, Zoair, El-
Barbary and Hewedi (2018)claimed the effort of destination
marketing strategy should include both the setting and how
visitors create and form their experiences accordingly. In
addition, an intelligent and vibrant destination marketing
strategy should be multidimensional and segment-related
(Dolnicar and Grün, 2017). Given the existence of a noteworthy
connection between product and destination perceptions, De
Nisco, Papadopoulos and Elliot (2017) produced solid evidence
that destinations “characterized by a strong international
reputation for their products (especially products connected
with significant tourism features, like food, fashion, or crafts)
may use their reputation as producers for enhancing and
differentiating their international image as a tourism
destination” (p. 438).
Another important aspect of the results obtained is related to
the reasonable correlation between Factors 1 and 2, which
explain much of the total variance (45.62%) (see Figure 1). For
this reason, it can be inferred that, from the respondents’
perspective, tourism quality depends on the destination
marketing strategy, which is primarily determined by the way
branding and positioning, promotional activities and tourist
information are enhanced considering the destination’s
potential, uniqueness and attractiveness.
5.1 Theoretical implications
This study improves tourism marketing understanding and
offers potential advances since it proposes an assessment
instrument to measure destination quality regarding the
marketing strategy dimension. Few studies, if any, have
explored destination quality in its various dimensions and very
few have suggested measurement instruments in this context.
Indeed, previous research over the past 40 years has revealed
that tourism marketing encourages tourists to increase their
length of stay, adjust their activity preferences, and even raise
expenditure rates (Choe, Stienmetz, and Fesenmaier, 2017),
but stakeholders and DMOs’ awareness of its importance fail to
be explored and documented.
Thus, this study oﬀers deeper insight into the perceptions of
local public stakeholders in Portugal, namely local DMOs, about
destinations’ marketing strategy. It provides a clearer
comprehension of their marketing standpoint, allowing for
future international comparative analysis, longitudinal
investigation and improvement planning and sustainable
By exploring this particular dimension of the overall tourism
quality scale, adapted to the Portuguese situation, this study
offers a new perspective of looking at ‘image and promotion’
and ‘product differentiation’, when thinking about
5.2 Practical and managerial implications
This study contains a methodological framework for the
operationalisation of organisational self-assessment, enabling
DMOs, stakeholders and other local tourism managers or
F1- Image and Promotion
F2 – Product Differentiation
marketers to identify marketing strategy factors that may be
critical for the success and development of tourism
destinations, leading to conscious decision-making on actions in
line with updated feedback.
The findings provide directions for public policy-makers involved
in destination marketing in two primary avenues: destination
branding and positioning, promotional activities and tourist
information (F1) and destination potential, uniqueness and poles
of attractiveness (F2). Both agree with contemporary trends that
tourists are increasingly concerned with authentic experiences
through genuine feelings and emotional achievements (Jiang,
Ramkissoon, Mavondo and Feng, 2017), which may be enhanced
by accurate marketing strategies.
Another important aspect emerging from the research
ﬁndings and corroborating the literature is that destination
marketing should pursue internationalisation and therefore
competitiveness (see item 5. “It is urgent that our county
assert itself on the international scene as a potential tourist
In this framework, DMOs are a destination’s guarantee of
quality and competitiveness, but reduced public sector funding
and increased dependence on commercial income to support
core activities (Li, Robinson and Oriade, 2017) appear as
important constraints for marketing tasks’ operationalisation.
Conveniently, at the same time, digital tools emerge as an
effective low-cost marketing instrument with worldwide reach
(Uşaklıa, Koça and Sönmezb, 2017), making it possible to
develop marketing activities even on a limited budget.
Moreover, the consumer revolution which has led to the
increase of non-conventional tourism products and services
and the rise of more informed travellers with higher quality
standards and open access to mobile technology has provided
signiﬁcant opportunities for DMO functions and commitments
(Li, Robinson and Oriade, 2017).
The effect of the internet, social media and technological
mobility on information and product differentiation,
communication and consumer attraction, and also on
networking and partner engagement, requires new marketing
approaches and practice. In this vein, DMOs should
progressively reﬂect the possibility of both “co-creation” and
“prosumption” (Li, Robinson and Oriade, 2017). While
Binkhorst and Dekker (2009, p. 315) suggest co-creation is “the
interaction of an individual at a specific place and time and
within the context of a specific act”, perceiving the tourist as
part of the process of designing the tourist experience, Xie,
Bagozzi and Troye (2008, p110) deﬁne prosumption (within
tourism) as “value creation activities undertaken by the
consumer that result in the production of products they
eventually consume and that become their consumption
experiences”, underlining the combination of the processes of
production and consumption.
Subsequently, the traditional role of DMOs as data sources and
information centres should predictably change into new
specialised services consistent with new communication tools,
transcending physical and time boundaries (Li, Robinson and
The research findings also underline that tourism authorities
and other destination stakeholders should operate collectively
(Jiang et al, 2017), but their sensitivity and awareness of this
need, and particularly of what it involves, is still limited and
occasional. Therefore, local public stakeholders and other
destination managers are advised to establish partnerships and
collaborative networks, especially in the context of interactive
marketing planning processes for destinations.
According to Silva and Correia (2017), competition is increasing
in tourism marketing and retaining strategies are critical for
sustainable destination development. So it is urgent to have
reliable instruments to monitor and measure the quality of
destinations since this is the central hub for competitiveness
and sustainability. Marketing is one of the most important
dimensions of quality and its importance is growing in the
context of destination retaining policies.
In conclusion, this study and the data collected meet this
evolving challenge, suggesting an assessment scale for better
understanding of destination marketing strategy from the
perspective of local public stakeholders in Portugal, generally
presumed to be local DMOs.
In short, this study enriches the tourism and marketing research
fields since it indicates that destination quality depends on the
originality and diversity of tourism products and services,
defining competitive advantages, and these express a
destination’s image and promotion, standing out as the
foundations of destination marketing strategies.
Finally, we draw attention to some limitations of this study. First
of all, there is a need to continue this research, with different
and larger samples. Secondly, the questionnaires were sent by
email, which made it challenging to answer possible doubts.
Thirdly, this is a cross-sectional study, which means the results
are constrained to a specific time of data collecting. Lastly,
another limitation is the data-collection method - the self-
administered questionnaire; despite the inherent advantages
of anonymity, the possibility of obtaining a broad scenario of
the research area and less respondent "reactivity", the problem
of the validity of the conclusions arises, more precisely, the
establishment of conditions that aim to guarantee the internal
validity of the investigation (Alferes, 2012).
For these reasons, we suggest applying the proposed
instrument in other international contexts and longitudinally,
determining temporal evolutions or similarities and differences
between destinations. Furthermore, concerning extending this
field of expertise, one of the priorities should be to increase
research about the marketing dimension strategy and other
quality dimensions such as “development”, “economics”,
“human resources” and “product”.
We are grateful for the participation of Portuguese public decision-
makers at the local level, who contributed to this research with their
experience and knowledge.
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Received: 15.05. 2018
Revisions required: 28.10.2018