Identifying sense of place that corresponds destination uniqueness

Understanding of place by providing a sense of place model.

Young Asian traveling backpacker
Young Asian traveling backpacker Image: ShutterStock

Destination image can be described as a tourist’s general impression of a destination including ‘sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions’ that a visitor has toward a certain place. The visitor’s attitude toward destination image plays an important role in their travel purchase decisions and subsequently, stimulating their visiting intentions.

In addition, the tangible and intangible characteristics that make a location distinctive and memorable contribute significantly to the destination image. Although the higher the destination uniqueness, the higher the perceived value, tourist satisfaction and the tourist loyalty.

How this destination feel is communicated has largely been the domain of place branding and destination marketing. Considering this, many practitioners are starting to carefully consider ‘sense of place’, that is an emotional attachment to place, which is defined more carefully in the literature review of this article, and which corresponds with long-running academic discussions.

In a new study, scientists identified some of these and conquer any gap between scholarly hypothesis on the sense of place and practice. They particularly shed lights on UK’s rural areas, which are working to put a sense of place through toolkit documents that might inform landscape interpretation and destination branding.

The toolkit provides information on the special nature of the Bay including its landscape, viewing places, wildlife, history and culture, traditions, top outdoor activities and journeys, and local food and drink. But, in a tourism context, and more specifically the development of these toolkits has received limited academic attention.

Thus, this study presents the case of Morecambe Bay and the development of a dedicated sense of place toolkit. It outlines a series of workshop activities developed with destination stakeholders and identifies how these inform subsequent toolkit design.

Scientists involved case scenarios such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Analyzing all these, scientists found that this offers a critical analysis of the benefits and potential pitfalls of employing this approach.

The study contributes to the understanding of place by providing a sense of place model to support scholarship in destination and place branding. Scientists suggest that using the model could be used to develop marketing strategies of destinations with a sense of place dimensions. Tour operators and travel agents are requested to include a sense of place dimensions in their tour packages.

The study is originally published in the journal Tourism and Hospitality Research.