A comparison of traditional versus modern media on the formation of South Africa's image as tourism destination
The tourism industry has become one of the major industries in the world and is one of the key economic sectors for many developing countries such as South Africa. A variety of factors influence the growth of tourism, either positively or negatively. Image formation is one of the factors that contributes to the growth of the tourism industry and attracting tourists as part of marketing strategies. One of the biggest challenges within the tourism industry is the understanding as to how tourists form their images and perceptions of a destination as this influences visitor numbers. It is important that countries such as South Africa build and sustain a positive image to attract visitors. Marketing plays a key role in this context by contributing to the development of the destination in portraying favourable brand images. Defining image is challenging as there are several definitions of image. To provide defining concepts of image can be captured by terms such as “perceptions", “impressions", “beliefs", “ideas", "individuals" and "places" which are used in general to define destination image in tourism research. Image is a multi-faceted concept that is influenced by several aspects showcasing the complexity thereof. Image mainly consists of three interrelated components. These are cognitive, affective and conative images. Cognitive image refers to what one knows and thinks about an object. How one feels about it is related to affective image and how a person acts when using this information is the conative image. There was a significant growth in the number of studies conducted on image. However, the significant relationship between media and tourism has long been recognized in general, but less is known about the specific role media play in the formation of a destination's image, which is the focus of this study. Media can be divided into two categories - traditional media and modern media. Traditional media relates to the distribution of messages before the digital era and modern media includes digital media and methods that emerged after the development of the computer and the Internet. The media phenomenon has undergone an enormous change over the past decade from traditional media sources to more modern media sources. Traditional media sources can be divided into two groups namely. These are Below-the-line-media and Above-the-line-media. Below-the-line-media includes books and guides, brochures, travel fairs and expos, websites and billboards. Above-the-line media includes newspapers, television, magazines and radio. It is evident that these traditional media sources are being used for several reasons in the tourism industry, whether it is for updates, high quality visual media or the fact that one can use/read the media repeatedly. However, over the last few years the popularity of using modern media has increased and a shift away from traditional media has occurred. Modern media is a type of media where Internet users connect with people and create information on the World Wide Web. These sites were formerly used for entertainment reasons but, due to the increase in the use of the Internet, these information communication technologies have changed the way people communicate and do business with one another. For this study, modern media refers to media such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Google+, Flickr, Myspace, LinkedIn and Pinterest as well as interactive websites. The development of modern media is significant and happens daily. The role of media (traditional and modern) in the image formation of South Africa is unknown and to solve this problem quantitative research was conducted by means of questionnaires. These were distributed among international tourists at OR Tambo International Airport (leaving South Africa) which is visited by 19-million passengers a year (Gauteng Tourism Authority, 2017). The survey resulted in 558 completed questionnaires which were captured in Microsoft Excel and analysed by means of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, Version 23). More specifically, descriptive (frequency tables and figures), exploratory (factor analysis) and multivariate and inferential analyses (cluster analysis, ANOVAs, t-tests, Spearman Rank order correlations) were carried out to reach the objectives of the chapter and contribute to literature and practice. The descriptive results revealed that most of the respondents were male with an average age of 38. These respondents were mostly married, residing in Africa and following a professional career. Most of the respondents had visited South Africa before and they spent 11 nights in SA during this trip. The average amount respondents spent on their visit to South Africa is R17 205.75. A large number of visitors heard about South Africa as a results of their previous visits and they chose South Africa because they always wanted to visit this country; they want to experience something new and see the unique wildlife South Africa has to offer. As part of their assessment of the image of South Africa, they indicated that they enjoyed their visit, they will return and the natural attractions are unique. The analysis on traditional media revealed their preference for television and website (less interaction) due to the information provided. In terms of modern media, preferences for websites (interactive) and Facebook were indicated since they are considered as trustworthy and fast and easy to use. Affective image was rated as the highest, thus respondents have an emotional connection with South Africa. Clustering was applied according to the medium used to gather information about South Africa and selected demographic characteristics were applied. Cluster 1 was labelled the Loyal African visitors, Cluster 2 the African/European regular visitors and Cluster 3 the African/European irregular visitors. Custer 1 rated conative image and cognitive image as the two most important images of SA. Cluster 2 rated cognitive image and affective image as the two most important images. Cluster 3 rated affective image and conative images as the two most important images and it therefore seems that these visitors will return. Thus for the loyal visitors indicated that they will return and spread positive images of South Africa. The regular visitors regarded infrastructure and services as being more important whereas Cluster 3 felt the emotional connection to the country. The study clearly showed that modern media influences image and that traditional media have limited influence on image formation. However each of these mediums has a place depending on the market which is targeted.