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The importance of communication in tourism: Portugal and its image from travellers’ perspective

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Communication in tourism is a fundamental tool to promote at the best a destination. In the following paperwork, a quantitative and qualitative research of the official Portuguese Instagram travel account has been made. It focuses on the analysis of the places and sites promoted by the travelers. The aim is to explore the insights of Portugal and its means of promotion in the online environment. Tourism is the activity of individuals that carry out the practice of traveling with the purpose of relaxation. This activity has been conducted since the ancient times, where traveling represented a privilege for the educated people or royalties. The word “tourism” has acquired its meaning from the from Greek and Latin words for the circle and turn, and that tourism and tourist represent the activities of circling away from home and then returning (Theobald, 1998).

Moreover, previously to this denomination, the word “hospitality” has been used and it derives from the Latin hospes (guest, host, and foreigner) (Latdict, 2014) and first appeared in the 14th century. The word tourist appeared in print much later, in 1772 (Griffiths and Griffiths, 1772). However, the concept of tourism cannot be limited to the mere linguistic meaning, since it encompasses a broader area of subjects, mainly economics and statistics, social sciences, psychology and lately ecology. Taking this scenario into consideration, tourism can be considered a phenomenon, that allows travelers to experience different cultural, political and economic contexts (Dr. Socrates I. Papadopoulos 1986). Indeed, as stated by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), it can be defined as “the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes.”

The types of tourism

Tourism can be divided into different types according to the number of people traveling, the length of the travel or the motivation of the individuals such as business or pleasure tourism. Lately, the activities comprised have broadened amply, to reach a varied range of options to choose between.

Adventure tourism: travelers looking for the adrenaline rush – Nepal, Croatia, New Zealand Birth tourism: traveling between countries in order to give birth to children that will acquire the country’s citizenship – USA, UK, Canada

Business tourism: people traveling to attend meetings, conferences, and seminars – everywhere

Culinary tourism: travelers tasting and experiencing the local and traditional food of a country – France, Italy, Mexico

Cultural tourism: travelers focus on activities such as visiting museums, theatres, art galleries – France, Italy, India

Dark tourism: it involves visiting places and sites that have been witnesses to some of the major tragedies in history – Germany, Poland, Cambodia Disaster tourism: visit places that have encountered a major disaster – Iceland, Fukushima/Japan

Doom tourism: visiting places and sites that are under environmental and human threat – Chile, India, Tanzania

Drug tourism: the travel purpose is to buy and consume drugs and narcotics – Netherlands, Morocco, Australia

Ecotourism: the type of tourism that involves a socially responsible travel to virtual undisturbed areas of natural beauty – Norway, Kenya Genealogy tourism: travelers visiting countries of their origin to seek a reconnection with their past – Romania, Ireland, Germany

LGBT tourism: the main target is the LGBT population – Mexico, Czech, England

Medical tourism: individuals seeking treatments – Asia

Nautical tourism: it combines holiday activities with boating and sailing – USA, Spain, Italy Religious tourism: travelers have as their main purpose the pilgrimage or missionary activities – India, Israel

Sex tourism: individuals traveling to indulge in sexual activities – Philippines, Dominican Republic, Thailand

Slum tourism: travelers that visit the poor areas of a city – China, India

Sports tourism: travels including sports actives and enjoyment – Brazil, England

War tourism: travelers visit former military sites, war zones or museums related to the military history – Japan, USA

Wellness tourism: its purpose involves maintaining and enhancing one’s body, mind, and soul – China, Cayman Islands

Online communication in tourism

Internet, since the early 1990s, has acquired a growing influence in each individual’s life. It is back at this time, when the first commercial oriented advertisements have been introduced online, representing what is today the large-scale online promotion of products and services. The main process through which the promotion is reached is offline and online communication.

According to Meriam&Webster’s dictionary, communication is the process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, and behaviors. It helps to facilitate the process of sharing information and knowledge but also helps people to develop relationships with others. The three different types of communication are divided into verbal, non-verbal and visual communication. Tourism field activities and advertising areas include all the types listed previously and use them for economic, social and cultural promotion purposes. However, the visual communication is the most powerful tool that tourism representatives can use to transmit and cause a rapid emotional response. Indeed, the visual cortex is the largest system of the human brain. Another key to success in the tourism promotion of services is adding to the communication an “emotional” input. Not to mention that tourism activity has an emotional impact before, during and after it has occurred since it shapes personalities, behaviors and broadens each individual’s knowledge.

Emotions can be defined as a set of processes that are created by physiology, perceptions, language, and social experiences. All of these elements interact continuously to shape our experience of emotions. There are different theories of emotions and can synthesize into: physiological, perceptional and social (Julia T. Wood, 2016). The last two, especially, influence and are influenced by external factors. Without a doubt, “places or destinations are sources of identification and affiliation that provide meaning and purpose to life” (Williams & Vaske, 2003, as cited in Hosany & Gilbert, 2010, p. 514). They serve distinct functions in a person’s everyday life (Snepenger et al., 2004) and a person can even develop an emotional connection to a certain place (Sack, 1992; Hidalgo & Hernandez, 2001). This place attachment, which is often referred to as the emotional bond between an individual and a location or landscape (Giuliani & Feldman, 1993), is highly influenced by the person and his or her personal experiences and emerges from an individual’s identification with a place on an emotional level (Williams, Patterson & Roggenbuck, 1992; Eisenhauer, Krannich & Blahna, 2000). Sharing knowledge and information process cannot function without one of the types of communication listed above.

In the online promotion, particularly in the tourism field, is based on digital marketing and social networks. There are many ways through which the achievement of the sales or promotion goals is possible; for instance, social media platform video contests, promotions group, quizzes, etc. Communication means can be expressed through advertising. The tourism industry must use advertising as the primary tool for its professional gain. The successful promotion of tourism in each country is based on cultural values, and the professionals understanding of advertising and its values (Hassan S. and Morteza F., 2014). As it regards the online advertising, it is very easy and simple to promote places and destinations, since it is possible to influence the people at every time during their daily duties, succeeding into having a higher probability to condition their decision-making process. It influences both the immediate sensory input as well as recall past experiences and future goals and expectations. For this reason, communication in tourism is fundamental and important for promoting ideas and visions of a country.

Analysis of Portuguese Instagram account Instagram is an online platform which was first launched in October 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. The aim of the application is to allow the users to share edited pictures and videos with other users and followers. Since its first appearance to nowadays, Instagram active users amounts to 800 million on September 2017.

Moreover, it allows the users to post their posts on the different social platform, making the spread of information and content to become wider and more accessible for people of different social and economic classes. The main topic of the paper is the analysis of 50 Instagram posts by using different pre-established categories. The analysis covers the time period of approximately 4 months, precisely from September 25th, 2017 to January 13th, 2018. The methodology according to which the selection has been made can be reduced to the mathematical form of p+2, where “p” represents the first picture chosen. Moreover, the choice has been further divided into indoor and outdoor categories for a better understanding of the variety of situations and shots.

The results can be observed in the following table:

Recurrence of the categories

The a posteriori quantitative examination shows that the highest percentages are comprising shots of buildings and people immersed in the surrounding natural environment. Approximately half of the pictures include architectural urban and rural buildings in both scenic views and natural landscapes. The images are geographically varied since they are taken all over the Portuguese territory and in most of the urban shots there are represented famous touristic destinations, meanwhile, in the rural ones, there is depicted a perfect harmony between the human constructions and nature. As it regards the presence of people, they are usually engaged in activities such as walking, sailing or swimming. The third category, listed according to the number of posts, is represented by the presence of the natural environment post, without the presence of buildings nor people. The categories that appear as less than 5% are food&drink, museums and churches or mosques.

According to the recurrence table, the hotel category is not present at all. Portugal is a country well known for its history, architectural tradition, gastronomy and beaches. In the qualitative analysis, the examined pictures fall into different already existing ideas and opinions created by the tourist flow and the personal knowledge of each individual. The characteristics that make of Portugal the country well-known by the people around the world are the creation of ideas and stereotypes of a long period of history and tradition. All the pictures present the country and its natural amazing landscapes, the simple life, still anchored to the past in some regions, local gastronomy and “unspoiled” territory. Portugal is now a semi-presidential representative republic and it was founded in 868. Its traditions date back to the ancient times and all around the country there can be found remains of previous civilization.

Further on there have been chosen four representative pictures of Portugal, respectively two indoors and two outdoors. One of the most famous characteristics of Portugal is the well-known azulejos, usually blue painted squared decorative tiles representing cultural or traditional moments of the Portuguese history. They can be found on the buildings, houses, train stations, churches or on the ground. The purpose of using this ceramic tiles is to prevent the dispersion of heat as well as giving a touch of uniqueness. Portuguese use to be proud of their past, traditions and tend to preserve and present them in the best form. Despite the absence of such posts on the official Instagram account, the azulejo tiles are present all over the country and very famous as an attraction between the travelers. Important touristic sites are the religious ones, where azulejos can be mostly found. Indeed, Portugal is known for the religious involvement and dedication. As a second important indoor element, the most representative is the gastronomy. Portugal can offer a large variety starting from the rich diversity of wines, fish, and seafood, cheese and meat. Besides that, every region offers typical dishes and adaptation of the national courses. These type of images are bright and colored to represent the kindness and traditionalism of the Portuguese inhabitants. The outdoor Portuguese landscapes offer a magnificent coastline, hidden spots, and beaches.

The opening on the Atlantic Ocean offers the impression of quietness and of “unlimited” space that makes people focus on the inner selves. It leads to the idea of escaping the daily life and gives a feeling of freedom. To stress the freedom concept, there are mostly sports activities that allow travelers to discover the surrounding in an interactive way.

Additionally, the panoramic views create a romantic and pleasant environment. The concept that is promoted is that Portugal offers a completely new reality that travelers can experience just by visiting those places and “breath the difference”. The old buildings, the tradition, the food and wine and the geographical position still makes of the Portuguese territory a unique experience. The touristic activities represent one of the biggest industries and it is growing every year. Portugal is a famous destination between travelers and this is due to the fact that it has been promoted in an effective and efficient way. Even if Portugal is known for its sun&beach holidays and religious pilgrimage, the analysis of the 50 posts shows that the Portuguese culture and tradition are more varied from the perspective of the modern travelers. The heritage, history, gastronomy, and religion are present in different proportions; nevertheless, it encompasses all the characteristics of the country since it features the paradisiac leisure sites as well as the romantic atmosphere of the cities with their baroque and neoclassical architecture. The pictures represent the quietness of the place and the possibility to live a different experience and learn about their history and traditions.

The Instagram page through which the country is promoted makes a good use of the hashtags to attract more viewers and makes the searching of the represented landscape easy since it offers its geographical position. Instagram is a useful and powerful tool for promotion, as well as Portugal and its attractions are worth to get known and seen by the travelers. It is interesting to observe how through social media, not only the known places are represented, but also the hidden corners and paradises are discovered by many more travelers than in the past, allowing the industry to evolve and develop different types of tourism.

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GradesFixer. (2018). The importance of communication in tourism: Portugal and its image from travellers’ perspective. Retrived from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-communication-in-tourism-portugal-and-its-image-from-travellers-perspective/
GradesFixer. "The importance of communication in tourism: Portugal and its image from travellers’ perspective." GradesFixer, 04 Sep. 2018, https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-communication-in-tourism-portugal-and-its-image-from-travellers-perspective/
GradesFixer, 2018. The importance of communication in tourism: Portugal and its image from travellers’ perspective. [online] Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-communication-in-tourism-portugal-and-its-image-from-travellers-perspective/> [Accessed 5 August 2020].
GradesFixer. The importance of communication in tourism: Portugal and its image from travellers’ perspective [Internet]. GradesFixer; 2018 [cited 2018 September 04]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-importance-of-communication-in-tourism-portugal-and-its-image-from-travellers-perspective/
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