Visitors’ experience in a coastal heritage context: A segmentation analysis and its influence on in situ destination image and loyalty

Authors

  • Margarida Ferreira da Silva Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies (GOVCOPP), Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism, University of Aveiro, Portugal; CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro. Email: a.silva@ua.pt
  • Filomena Martins CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro; Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies (GOVCOPP), Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal. Email: filomena@ua.pt
  • Carlos Costa Research Unit on Governance, Competitiveness and Public Policies (GOVCOPP), Department of Economics, Management, Industrial Engineering and Tourism, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal. Email: ccosta@ua.pt
  • Cristina Pita CESAM - Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies, Department of Environment and Planning, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal; Email: c.pita@ua.pt

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.54055/ejtr.v37i.3238

Keywords:

visitor degree of experience, coastal and maritime cultural heritage (CMCH), destination image, loyalty, behavioural segmentation, Portugal

Abstract

Understanding visitors’ actual behaviour is key for tourist destinations to define strategies for different subgroups of experience-based visitors. The few studies that have analysed the influence of the intensity of visitors’ on-site experience on the formation of destination image also considered intentions and did not analyse its influence on loyalty. Also, existing research on previous experience with the destination or experiential familiarity has considered repeat visitors as a homogeneous group and failed to identify different patterns of experience. This study aims to overcome these gaps by grouping visitors based on their degree of experience (i.e., previous and on- site experience related to coastal and maritime cultural heritage activities) and ascertaining the extent to which a) the impressions of the destination and b) degree of loyalty of the visitors in subgroups differ. The sample included 720 questionnaires from domestic and international visitors in Aveiro, Portugal, leading to three groups with varying degrees of past and on-site experience: “destination enthusiasts”, “destination and heritage enthusiasts” and “destination and heritage discoverers”, thus supporting the intersection of these variables as valid for market segmentation. All groups presented dissimilar cognitive images and different levels of loyalty, but no differences were found in the affective image.

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Published

2024-04-12

How to Cite

Ferreira da Silva, M., Martins, F., Costa, C., & Pita, C. (2024). Visitors’ experience in a coastal heritage context: A segmentation analysis and its influence on in situ destination image and loyalty. European Journal of Tourism Research, 37, 3705. https://doi.org/10.54055/ejtr.v37i.3238