Measuring the Levels of Tourists’ Visual Recognition of Urban Landscape in Order to Explain the Brand of Tourist Destination

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geographical Sciences and Planning, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran


Landscape is considered as an objective-subjective phenomenon that is the result of human interaction with the environment, society or history. Landscape interpretation and reading can depend on the values and beliefs of individuals, so it is said that landscape tastes are also a reflection of nationality. The importance of landscape in tourism studies began when some researchers considered urban landscape as a link interface between tourists and urban attractions. Over the past decades, there has been widespread interest in the image of the country and the image of the destination in both international marketing and tourism. However, limited research in the field of tourism has examined the differences and interactions between landscape and tourism. Tourists consider the destination of tourism as a perceptual concept that can be interpreted subjectively and through experience. A strong and sustainable image created in the tourist's mind from the tourist destination can lead to the creation of a tourism brand. Urban branding in many cities, especially tourist destinations, is one of the management priorities. In a competitive environment, cities try to gain more market share, outstanding talent and global attention. Good and prominent urban landscapes, apart from their role in shaping the form of the city, serve as a tool for governments to increase their ability to attract tourists and global investment. Cities with a favorable visual environment are able to enhance their mental image and strengthen civic pride by increasing the aesthetic experience of the visitors. In such a competitive environment, paying attention to the urban brand is more important than ever. In fact, urban and tourism managers have realized that in order to promote tourism, they must pay attention to various aspects of urban branding. Urban landscape is one of the factors with a great impact on the urban brand and its development and progress.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the urban landscape from the perspective of domestic and foreign tourists in order to explain the tourism brand in the destination image scale. Therefore, among the 6 main indicators that can define the competitive advantage and brand identity of a place, including historical landscape, natural landscape, souvenirs and handicrafts, customs, celebrities and food, examine the situation of Isfahan from the perspective of domestic and foreign tourists and image of Isfahan brand based on the characteristics of the destination brand image. In this way, we will examine the most enduring image of Isfahan in the minds of the visitors.
This article examines the visual knowledge of domestic and foreign tourists from Isfahan
Materials and Methods
The city of Isfahan with a rich historical, cultural, artistic, natural background, etc. is one of the most significant tourist destinations in Iran. Isfahan is a city in central Iran, south of Tehran and is the capital of Isfahan Province. The city became the capital of Iran in the 16th century during the Safavid dynasty and flourished.
There are many works of art, architecture, and history in the city of Isfahan. But there are three very important monuments in this city that have a global value and are considered part of the human heritage. One is the Naghsh-e Jahan Square Complex, the other is the Atigh Grand Mosque, and the third is the Chehel Sotoun Palace. These three valuable works are among the World Heritage Sites of Isfahan that have been registered in the UNESCO list. All three of these monuments are a stunning representation of Islamic art and architecture in Iran.
As a hub of art and architecture of Iran, especially in Islamic period, Isfahan became the twin town to other famous cultural cities in the world which Flagrance of Italy and Barcelona in Spain are two of them. Isfahan joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a creative city of handicrafts and folk arts in 2015. In the same year, Isfahan was also selected by the World Crafts Council as the World Crafts City. Becoming a member of a selected group of cities that have chosen creativity as a key driver for their sustainable urban development, improved the international image of Isfahan.
The present study is applied in terms of purpose and descriptive-survey with regard to a method. The statistical population of the study includes all tourists who visited the city of Isfahan in 2019. The study sample based on Cochran's formula is 384 tourists, including 307 domestic tourists and 77 foreign tourists from August to November 2019. After conducting library studies and forming the research literature, a questionnaire consisting of two visual and non-visual sections was prepared. In the visual questions section, according to the visit statistics of the Cultural Heritage Organization and the questionnaire of the experts of the Cultural Heritage Organization, 30 images of the sights and tourist places of Isfahan were randomly arranged in colored form. Tourists were asked to carefully prioritize the images based on their knowledge and interest in each image and review their recorded mental images.
Also 16 indicators of Isfahan brand image including natural landscape and beautiful scenery, recreational and mountain spaces, quiet urban environment, suitable space for rest, favorable weather, events and celebrations, historical attractions and sights, cultural attractions, hospitable people, local food, handicrafts, appropriate shopping facilities, suitable adventure spaces, celebrities and artists, and fascinating and mysterious stories in the form of questions in a 5-part Likert scale were rated by respondents from very low to very high. Friedman test was used to rank the images and the scores were analyzed in the tourism destination brand image.
Discussion of Results
According to the prioritization of images by tourists, it can be seen that Naghsh-e Jahan Square and Khajoo Bridge have been among the highest priorities of tourists in the images of Isfahan and form more important parts of the mental image of tourists in Isfahan.
Regarding the uniqueness of the destination or the main reason for traveling to Isfahan in the group of domestic tourists and in that of foreign tourists, 57.3% and 55.8% of tourists travel to Isfahan to see the historical sites, and the existence of events and exhibitions, clean air and celebrated or famous men have the lowest scores in the image of Isfahan brand, which shows the need to plan and hold celebrations and festivals and make decisions to improve the air pollution situation in Isfahan and introduce celebrities.
Tourists consider the destination of tourism as a perceptual concept that can be interpreted subjectively and through experience. A strong and sustainable image created in the tourist's mind from the tourist destination can lead to the creation of a competitive identity and tourism brand. Urban landscape is one of the main factors that can have a significant impact on urban brand. Because the urban landscape attracted attention at first, and the first judgment of the city in the minds of tourists creates. Given that the image of the destination has a positive effect on the intention to visit. In this study, we examined the level of visual recognition of domestic and foreign tourists from Isfahan. We also examined the image of Isfahan brand based on the image indicators of the destination brand based on the views of domestic and foreign tourists. Results show the image of Isfahan tourist destination in the minds of tourists is an image of a historical tourist destination. In fact, the historical landscape of Isfahan is a distinctive and unique feature of Isfahan compared to competing destinations. The historical and historical-natural landscape of Isfahan have the ability to define the brand for Isfahan and among the sights visited by tourists, Naghsh-e Jahan Square and Khajoo Bridge are the most enduring images of Isfahan in the minds of tourists. Among the 6 main branches that can explain the identity of the destination, historical landscape, natural landscape and handicrafts in the case of Isfahan are considered competitive advantages.


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