Taylor's FSLM Journals
An Insight into Stereotypical Images and Encountered Reality of South Asia as a Tourism Destination

@ Asia-Pacific Journal of Innovation in Hospitality and Tourism

Online ISSN: 2710-6519

Sonia Khan


Destination image is a key determinant of visitation to any tourist attraction. Images can be formed as a result of continuous learning through knowledge resources, exposure to promotional media, or on account of personal experiences. National or regional destination identities are often constructed in the minds of people as holistic impressions that represent a stereotypical mental picture based upon image associations related to unique icons, people, socio cultural, geographic, economic, political, and legal environment of a place, among others. On one hand the images can be mere illusions or stereotypical representations and on the other, they may contain an element of genuine existing realities. In tourism, images are crucial as they evoke fascination, anxiety, fear, or mixed feelings about a destination and determine visitation intention. Taking the case of South Asia as a region that is registering a strong but gradual growth in tourism over the years, this paper explores the tenuous relationship between illusionary stereotypical images and encountered reality based perceptions of selected tourism destination countries within the region. The objective of the paper is to determine if the stereotypical images of countries are in congruence with the images reported by tourists as a result of their encountered reality at the destination. The exploratory study aims at gaining a better insight into the image of South Asia as a tourism destination and discusses implications for destination marketing organisations to construct images that transcend mere stereotypical symbolism.

Keywords: Destination image, stereotypes, South Asia