City Image. Comparing residents’ and tourists’ perceived image of Verona

Rossella Baratta, Fabio Cassia, Vania Vigolo, Marta Ugolini

Abstract


Purpose. The aim of the research is to examine the perceived image of Verona, both as a tourist destination and as a city to live in. City image can be defined as a set of believes, ideas and impressions people hold regarding a city, and can strongly affect residents’ and tourists’ attitudes and behaviors toward the city: it can increase tourists’ loyalty and satisfaction, but it also plays a key role in creating residents’ support for further tourism development. The image of a city depends much on the quality of the services it provides, both public services and tourism facilities, and perceptions are expected to vary between residents and tourists.

Methodology. The research was conducted through questionnaires to 380 residents and 167 tourists of Verona. Questionnaires were based on a multi-item scale addressing six dimensions of the city image, four of them being shared by both tourists and residents, thus allowing for a direct comparison.

Findings. Empirical findings show that even if residents and tourists hold quite similar perceptions, residents detain a lower perceived image especially regarding municipal facilities. Additional findings provide evidence that heritage and cultural sites are among the most representative attributes of Verona in tourists’ perceptions and that the economic benefits of tourism are not systematically perceived by residents.

Practical implications. The research provides useful implications for policy makers and destination management organizations, it shows some strengths and weaknesses of Verona, and it provides evidence about the correlation between the perceived image of a city and the perceived economic benefits of tourism.

Originality/value. At our knowledge, this is the first analysis of the image of Verona, and the first time residents’ and tourists’ perceptions are jointly investigated and compared. Moreover, the study addresses the image of a medium-small city, that is typical in the Italian context, validating and improving an existing scale that could be further adopted for other Italian cities. 


Keywords


city image; residents; tourists; tourism impacts; Verona

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