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Where are the Danish tourists? - An explorative study of destination image and target group awareness

Danish tourists at the coastline of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania

Masterarbeit 2008 118 Seiten

Tourismus - Sonstiges


Table of contents

Figures and Tables


1. Introduction
1.1. Objective of the thesis - Problem formulation
1.2. Structure of the thesis

2. Methodology
2.1. Research Methods
2.2. Primary and Secondary Data.
2.3. Terminology
2.4. Limitations

3. Main theoretical foundations
3.1. Tourism
3.2. The tourist destination
3.3. Destination Marketing
3.3.1. International Market segmentation
3.3.2. Destination image – the impact of already existing perceptions
3.3.3. Destination Brand
3.3.4. First time visitors are still mouldable! - The impact of previous visitation on the destination image

4. Situation Analysis - Tourism in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
4.1. Tourism as a main economic factor for Germany
4.2. Tourism in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
4.2.1. The typical tourist of MV
4.3. International tourism of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
4.4. Where are the foreign guests? – Some basic problems of the international tourism sector in MV
4.4.1. The absence of an international image
4.4.2. Poor transport systems
4.4.3. Competitiveness and missing target-group awareness

5. The Danish source market.
5.1. Denmark as a main source market for Mecklenburg Western Pomerania
5.2. Already existing marketing activities of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania in Denmark

6. “Something you will not find at our place” – MV’s unique attractions for the Danish target market
6.1. State-certified sea side resorts and Spa architecture
6.2. Convenient and fast accessibility
6.2.1. Culture, nature, health and wellness - diversity on the spot
6.3. Cost level
6.4 Cultural heritages and former eastern Germany – the Danish “cultural tourist” ..

7. An empirical analysis of the Danes’ perceived image and evaluation of the MV coastline
7.1. Methodology
7.2. Results of the survey: Perceived image versus actual holiday experience?
7.2.1. Profile data and general travel behaviour
7.3. Summary of the survey results – Denmark as major target market?
7.4. Prospect – some implicational thoughts for the future

8. Conclusion


Figures and Tables

List of figures

Figure 1-1: The geographical location of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania (blue) ...

Figure 1-2: The Scandlines ferry route (pink) between Rostock and Gedser.

Figure 4-1: The Scandlines ferry routes

Figure 6-1: An example of traditional spa architecture: The Cliff Hotel on the Sellin pier

Figure 7-1: The geographical location of the chosen tourist destinations

Figure 7-2: Online advertisement for Hotel Polarstern on Happy Days website

List of tables

Table 4-1: The ten most visited countries by travellers (inbound). Source: WTO

Table 5-1: Overnight stays of Danish visitors in Germany

Table 5-2: Overnight stays of Danish visitors in MV

Table 7-1: Age of the respondents

Table 7-2: The respondent’s place of residence in Denmark

Table 7-3: Length of stay at the destination

Table 7-4: The respondent’s usually most frequented form of travelling

Table 7-5: Respondent’s perceptions of a good holiday

Table 7-6: Associations with MV as holiday destination

Table 7-7: Origin of associations with MV

Table 7-8: Friend’s and family’s perception of MV

Table 7-9: Origin of destination awareness

Table 7-10: Expectation of the holiday prior to the visit

Table 7-11: The respondent’s evaluation of expectations versus actual holiday experience.

Table 7-12: Recognised differences regarding earlier holiday expectations

Table 7-13: Respondent’s possible earlier holidays in MV

Table 7-14: Visited destinations of previous holidays in MV

Table 7-15: Evaluation of earlier visits to MV

Table 7-16: Type of holiday reservation

Table 7-17: Reasons for MV coastline as holiday destination

Table 7-18: Plans for the stay at the MV coastline

Table 7-19: Recognised differences between the Danish and German coastline


illustration not visible in this excerpt

1. Introduction

“2007 the so far most successful year tourism sector in Mecklenburg Western

Pomerania!“ “Tourism of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania experiences year of records in


WELT, 13.01.2008 [1]

In March 2008, the German information and service provider for destination management, Destinet, informed about exclusively positive news from the German tourism sector regarding the previous year, 2007:

The German Travel Association stated that the German holiday resorts experienced a surge in the number of bookings. The German hotel industry enjoyed continuing economic growth; domestic tour operators expect an increase of an additional three to four percent, not only in regard to bookings for the German outbound tourism sector, but also for domestic holiday destinations.[2]

Hence, the home country still represents the most favourite holiday destination for more than a third of all German citizens, including health and wellness holidays as a growing trend, not only in the domestic tourism sector.[3]

In 2007, the German federal states experienced a general growth of overnight stays in the millions.

Most notably, the federal state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania (short: MV) experienced a year of new records for its tourism sector, additionally resulting in a growth of the general GDP:

“The economy of the federal state is experiencing continuous growth, for the year 2007, the Ministry of Economics announced a growth of the domestic gross product referring to 2,6 percent.“[4]

The sea side resorts alone of the so-called Mecklenburgische Ostseeküste, that is the Baltic coastline of MV, experienced an increase of 4,4 percent in their overnight stays in 2007.[5]

Here, the G8 summit, which took place in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania in June 2007, plays an influential role, of course.

The summit, which was held in the Baltic Sea side resort of Heiligendamm, pushed the annual number of overnight stays for the region.

The sea side resort of Kühlungsborn alone recorded more than 5000 overnight stays during the short time period of the summit.[6] This was due to the sea side resort’s function of representing the headquarter for the international media.

Still, the growth of overnight stays is continuing independently from the G8 summit. Following the federal state of Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern continues to be Germany’s second most favourite tourist destination, with the nationwide highest increase of overnight stays since 1993.[7]

This positive development is expected to continue into 2008 and beyond.

Regarding the number of existing bookings for the upcoming seasons, tourism experts forecast an additional increase of 2.5 per cent, which would then equate to an expected number of almost 27 million overnight stays for the year 2008.[8]

For Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, the year 2008 already began with an increase of visitors, recording an overall number of more than 810.000 overnight stays for the month of January, resulting in a growth of 13.4 percent in comparison to the previous month.[9]

Despite these predominantly positive figures, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania currently faces a serious and continuing problem:

The holiday destinations, including particularly the north German coastline of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, suffer from a tremendous shortfall of international guests who chose the federal state as a holiday destination.

As the above highlighted figures account for almost exclusively domestic tourists, recent statistics show an extremely low number of international guests of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania.

In 2007, the number of overnight stays by international guests was a disappointing 2.9 per cent.[10]

Tourism, whether domestic or inbound, represents a main economic factor and source of income for Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, which the state is vitally dependent on. Consequently, there is an urgent and obvious need to increase the number of international guests during all seasons.

Mecklenburg Western Pomerania belongs to the former area of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Nevertheless, in 2008, almost eighteen years after the German reunification, MV is not only missing its international tourists.

Most notably, the federal state has up to date still not developed an international image or image brand, normally a vital precondition for a desired international success in destination marketing.

Geographically located in the northeast of Germany and bordering the Baltic Sea, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania represents a direct neighbour country of Denmark and Sweden[11], both connected to Mecklenburg Western Pomerania via direct ferry connections.

The actual distance between the two ferry ports of Gedser in Denmark Rostock in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, is only 49 kilometres (26 sea miles).

Therefore, Scandinavia, and Denmark in particular, represent a major target market for the tourism sector of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania.

The sea side resorts at the MV coastline represent an attractive holiday destination for the potential Danish target market, including several unique characteristics and holiday experiences that are not even existent in Denmark.[12]

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1-1: The geographical location of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania (blue)[13]

Necessary and vital cross-border marketing strategies on the potential Danish target market are presently used on a poor, almost non-existing level by destination marketeers of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania.

The federal state is still more or less perceived as a “transit”-state by Danish ferry- users, since the ferry between Gedser and Rostock directly connects to the German motorway A19 .

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1-2: The Scandlines ferry route (pink) between Rostock and Gedser[14].

For Danish visitors, MV is regarded as the direct and fast connection to Berlin, as the German capital represents the most popular travel destination of the Danes in Germany.[15]

Hence, Danish travellers neglect to stay in MV for their holidays. The subsequent question arises, why they should stay at all, if they have not been told about MV as a holiday destination and are, therefore, not even aware of its potential?

1.1. Objective of the thesis

The main objective of this thesis is the demonstration of an existing and possibly crucial Danish source market for the tourist destination Mecklenburg Western Pomerania and its sea side resorts at the MV coastline in particular.

Denmark represents a major target market for the tourism industry of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, whose potential is still not recognised and therefore underdeveloped, underutilised and crucially underfunded.

Subsequently, the Danes, as potential visitors, seem to be unaware of the MV coastline as a potential, attractive and most of all unique holiday destination.

In order to discuss the above highlighted phenomenon, the following main operational research questions will serve as a main foundation for the problem analysis of this thesis:

- What characterises the attraction and uniqueness of the MV coastline for inbound tourism from Denmark?
- What are the basic problems of the international tourism sector of MV and do they also influence the Danish target market?
- How does the current image of the MV coast line project itself to Danish tourists, who, unbeknownst to them, already visit the destination and deny exclusive transit to Berlin?
- Does a possible unwillingness of potential Danish visitors exist, in regard to spend their holidays at the MV coastline?
- Is there evidence of a possible clash of perceptions from both, the visitor’s as well as from the marketeer’s point of view?
- Based on the theoretical and empirical findings, can implications be given regarding the crucial necessity of an international image, particularly in regard to needed, improved and, last but not least, worthwhile marketing activities on the Danish target market?

1.2. Structure of the thesis

The thesis is divided into nine main chapters. Starting with a short introduction of the topic, the methodological considerations used for the problem analysis will be introduced and explained. Important terminology as well as existing and maybe necessary practical limitations regarding the problem analysis will be named and clarified.

After explaining some of the main and most important theoretical terms and foundations regarding the problem analysis, for example inbound tourism, international destination marketing and destination image, the tourist destination of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania will be introduced in the fourth chapter.

The fifth chapter will highlight the potential Danish source market followed by a demonstration of some main factors and reasons for the unique attraction of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania for the Danish source market in chapter six.

Based on the data and conclusions resulting from the prior chapters, the seventh chapter represents the empirical part, that is an analysis of personal questionnaires that have been designed for and accomplished by Danish tourists who already travel to the MV coastline, particularly Danish visitors of the sea side resorts.

An in-depth analysis of the results of the questionnaires will be given to draw possible conclusions about the present destination image as it is perceived by Danish visitors spending their holidays at the MV coastline. Particular focus will be put on the respondent’s current evaluation of the holiday destination as they experienced it.

Derived from the analysis, the chapter will conclude with a summary of the survey results, considering the operational research questions and the beforehand situation analysis.

Finally, some possible gaps between both the perceptions of the Danish tourists and the MV tourism experts will be outlined and serve as a basis for feasible prospects regarding the demand for improved marketing activities by MV destination marketeers, which will be summarised in the subsequent conclusion. A short summary and some brief closing remarks will close this thesis.

2. Methodology

“The tourist industry is diverse […] and dynamic, and it can be studied at a number of levels and from many perspectives”[16]

The present thesis aims to give an explorative insight view and a rudimental situation analysis of existing inbound tourism from Denmark at the MV Baltic coastline, whereby the main focus will be put on the perceived destination image and evaluation of the destination by Danish visitors, who are already travelling to the destination.

Additionally, this thesis aims to emphasize the degree of awareness the tourism marketeers of MV have of the Danish target group.

2.1. Research Methods

In order to gain in-depth knowledge about the above introduced situation, the author used quantitative as well as qualitative data, which was collected through questionnaires, personal expert interviews and personal e-mail conversations.

In order to collect reliable data and information from exclusively Danish tourists at the MV coastline, a questionnaire was designed, consisting of mainly open-ended questions.

As no statistical data has been collected so far regarding the travel motives of Danish visitors coming to the sea side resorts of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, the information gathered about this issue will have to rely on qualitative data, as supplied by the respondents of the questionnaires.

The advantages of this empirical approach as well as further methodological considerations regarding the questionnaires will be discussed in more detail at a later point, in the context of the empirical analysis.

Additionally to the questionnaires, personal interviews with tourists and tourism experts have been taken, as well as tourism experts of the different tourist organizations of the tourist region have provided their support and knowledge via e- mail.

The expert interviews have been held as semi structured interviews.

According to Kvale, this particular interview form includes “a sequence of [basic] themes to be covered, as well as suggested questions. […] At the same time there is openness to changes of sequence and forms of questions in order to follow up the answers given and the stories told by the subjects.”[17]

As experts have mainly been interviewed during the preparation of this thesis, the opportunity of these changes within the interview situation is very important since it gave the interviewee the chance to provide additional, problem-relevant information and data spontaneously and of his or her own choice.

The above named “basic themes” were developed in the form of an interview guideline with interview questions for the interviewer[18]

The contact via e-mail came with several advantages regarding the collection of data from tourism experts, as generally pointed out by Tasci:

“Online modes are proposed to have advantages of high response rates [...], better quality data on open-ended questions, and faster and cheaper data collection than the traditional modes.”[19]

These considerations played an important role in the context of the present thesis. The first contact of the tourism experts by the author of this thesis had been personally, by phone and, mainly, by personal visits simply to introduce the thesis and the problem on a personal basis.

During this personal and mostly informal conversation, the tourism experts, who were to be interviewed, offered spontaneous help but expressed the explicit wish to hold all interviews and conversation on the virtual way via e-mail. Here, the above mentioned factors represented the main reason as well, and due to time pressure and restrictions at their work place, notwithstanding to the “artificial” situation of a personal interview, the experts preferred the email conversation. This would offer them both the opportunity to provide information to the author without the “time pressure” of an interview situation.

2.2. Primary and Secondary Data

The thesis will use both primary as well as secondary data for the problem analysis. Regarding secondary data, this means already existing literature and background knowledge on the topic will be used to illustrate the theoretical aspects.

The tourism-related and very up-to-date topic of this thesis requires complying background knowledge. Therefore, recently updated numbers and figures from statistics, brochures and tourism organisations will be used to draw a picture as up to date as possible of the existing situation.

Primary data collected through own, quantitative and primarily qualitative empirical research will serve as a foundation for the analysis.

Additionally, own experience and observations of the author are playing an influential role in regard to the main scope of the thesis because they represent the main starting point for the production of the thesis.

2.3. Terminology

In order to avoid terminology-based confusion, a brief explanation of the most important terminology relevant for the discussion of the present thesis shall be given.

Throughout the thesis, the term sea side resort will be used to describe the state- certified German Baltic Sea resorts at the MV coastline. The characteristics of a sea side resort will be explained in detail in chapter six.

The terms incoming and inbound tourism have the same meaning. The thesis will use the term inbound tourism in the context of foreign, that means also Danish tourists travelling from their home country to Mecklenburg Western Pomerania.

In addition, own translations will be given of German and Danish literature and background knowledge, including the data collection from the questionnaires regarding the empirical analysis.

The main geographical focus of this thesis lies on the tourism industry of the so- called Mecklenburgische Ostseeküste, referring to the Baltic coastline of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania. This region, which represents an independent tourist destination of the federal state, will be referred to as the MV coastline throughout the whole thesis.

The term peak season of the MV coastline describes the time from mid-June until the end of August. Additionally, the National Christmas Holidays and the time around New Years Eve are part of the region’s peak season.

The shoulder seasons of the tourist destination are the time periods from March to May as well as from October to early November.

The low season of the MV coastline refers to both the time period from December until March and the September month.[20]

Often, the term off-season is used by tourism operators when referring to both the shoulder and low seasons.

2.4. Limitations

The present thesis puts main focus on Danish inbound tourism and the target market of a limited area within the federal state of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, namely its sea side resorts at the MV coastline as a unique tourist destination for Danish visitors.

The ferry port in the city of Rostock represents the direct connection between Zealand and MV, as explained earlier. Therefore, the empirical analysis is subsequently also geographically limited to holiday destinations at the MV coastline within immediate vicinity of Rostock. The distinct destinations and further methodological considerations and limitations regarding the empirical analysis will be explained in more detail in chapter seven.

Furthermore, it would have been reasonable to discuss the problem in a wider, more national context, for example by taking opinions of tourism experts outside of Mecklenburg Vorpommern into account as well. However, this would have gone beyond the scope of this paper in regard to both time and topic-related issues.

Therefore, and in special consideration of their particular in-depth knowledge of the tourism industry at the MV coastline, exclusively tourism experts of the corresponding region have been interviewed, as well as Danish tourists of the MV coastline.

3. Main theoretical foundations

3.1. Tourism

“A universally accepted definition of leisure, tourism and recreation is an impossibility. Definitions will change according to their purpose and context. They are setting the ‘rules of the game’ […] for discussion, argument and research”[21]

Although the above quoted statement describes the almost countless number of approaches to describe the phenomenon of tourism, an analysis and discussion of a tourism-related issue requires a generally accepted definition of the term.

This thesis will use the different tourism-related and world wide generally accepted definitions of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which defines tourism itself as “the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”[22]

To analyse Danish inbound tourism at the MV coastline and, moreover, to avoid terminology-based confusion, an explanation of the main existing forms of tourism is necessary.

The WTO differentiates between the following central forms of tourism:

- Domestic tourism, which relates to residents of the given country travelling within this country.
- Inbound tourism, which relates to non-resident visitors travelling in the given country.
- Outbound tourism, referring to residents travelling outside of their own, hence in another country.[23]
Moreover, these three basic forms of tourism can be combined with each other in several ways, describing the following different categories of tourism:
- Internal tourism, comprising domestic tourism and inbound tourism, i.e. both resident and non-resident visitors.
- National tourism, which comprises domestic tourism and outbound tourism;

i.e. both domestic tourism consumption and outbound tourism consumption.

- International tourism, which comprises both inbound tourism and outbound tourism.[24]

As explained above, the term inbound tourism refers to tourists coming from Denmark to Germany and Mecklenburg Western Pomerania. Accordingly, Danish outbound tourism refers to the tourists with Danish citizenship travelling to a foreign country.

3.2. The tourist destination

Tourists travel to certain destinations, an adequate definition of the term in the context of tourism is given by Kotler, who defines a destination as a geographic region with

“an interconnected and complementary set of attractions, events, services and products which together create a total experience and value proposition to visitors”.[25] The present thesis is therefore emphasising this particular set of attractions existing at the MV coastline, which, referring to the above named definition, creates a value proposition to potential Danish tourists. Cooper et al. refer in this context to

“The focus of facilities and services designed to meet the needs of the tourist [and] where the most dramatic elements of tourism occur and where the inbound tourism industry is located : that is, where the attractions and all the other support facilities needed by the visitor are found”[26]

Thus, inbound tourism represents a main characteristic of a tourist destination and its non-existence therefore one of the most current problems of the MV tourism industry.

Moreover, Seaton and Bennett regard the tourist destination as “the catalyst link that precipitates all the other industries in the tourism sector – transport, accommodation and attractions.”[27]

The combination of all of these above mentioned factors play an influential role regarding the destination’s attraction, particularly for potential Danish visitors, as the MV coastline represents a holiday destination that is convenient in regard to modes of transport and accessibility, attractive and of greater value according to accommodation and cost level, and last but not least, unique and experience- creating concerning its attractions and services. Chapter six of this thesis will demonstrate how some of these attractions look like in practice.

3.3. Destination Marketing

The marketing of tourist destinations depends on several preconditions.

The tourism product carries special tourism-specific characteristics, which are inseparability, intangibility, variability, perishability, seasonality, high fixed costs and interdependence.[28]

As these features differ from those ascribed to tangible products that are not related to tourism, they have to be marketed differently. The existence of these tourism product-bound characteristics is important to mention, especially in regard to marketing activities of a tourist destination such as the MV coastline. An in-depth explanation of all of these characteristics will be avoided, as it would go beyond the scope of this thesis.

A successful destination marketeer must gain information about potential visitors, meaning that knowledge about “who the potential visitors are, what services they require while making a trip and what they expect to get out of the whole experience”[29] is required.

In other words, compatible destination marketing strategies are the necessary foundation for every tourist destination and its corresponding tourist organizations.

Proper and well-researched information about existing target groups, in this context represented by the potential Danish visitors, serves hereby as a major basis for possible marketing decisions.

As stated by Bennett and Seaton, “the starting point for the tourism planner [regarding successful tourism and destination marketing] must be the identification and understanding of the customer”[30]

Hence, the understanding of Danish tourism behaviour by the MV destination marketeer or tourism service provider can be described as one of the basic foundations for further marketing activities to build upon to.

3.3.1. International Market segmentation

Referring to Kotler, a proper source market for tourism is existent if it fulfils the five basic criteria of being measurable, substantial, accessible, differentiable and actionable.[31]

The Danish target market fulfils all of these criteria, as will be highlighted more concrete later on in this thesis.

Tourism destinations, in the context of destination marketing, can be seen as “culture-bound products which generate associations and meanings that are influenced by their cultural background of the potential tourist”[32] - such as their tangible counterparts.

Therefore, international target markets have to be treated and communicated differently than national target groups. In other words, marketing activities will always have different impact on different target groups as a destination evokes a different perceived image by each different target group .[33]

Consequently, target-group based and therewith nationality-based marketing is crucial for the successful increase of inbound tourism for the tourist destinations of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania.

The segmentation of a target market represents an important marketing tool, also for the tourism industry, as it represents “one of the most important strategic concepts”[34] for destination marketeers in order to meet the needs of the focussed target group.

Market segmentation is generally defined as “the process of dividing the total perceived market into subsets [segments], in each of which the potential customers have characteristics in common, which lead to similar demand needs for a product or service”[35]

In the destination marketing context of the present thesis, the above definition describes the requirement of structuring the guest’s needs, which means a categorisation of the Danish target group by the destination marketeers of MV.

The characteristics of the Danish target market, the Danish segment will be demonstrated in more detail later on in chapter five.

3.3.2. Destination image – the impact of already existing perceptions

The development of a destination image and an image-based destination brand constitutes a major precondition for tourist destination marketing.

According to Jafari,

“the destination image refers to the attitude, perception, beliefs and ideas one holds about a particular geographic area in the world. […] Alternatively, a destination image can be viewed as the mental picture promoters are trying to instil within a target audience.[36]

The influence of a destination’s image, referring to “the sum of beliefs, ideas, and impressions that a person has of a destination”[37] , serves as an important foundation, if not even one of the basic requirements for successful marketing of a tourist destination. The above named sum of cognitions includes both the distinct tourist destination but also the wider region surrounding the tourist destination, due to the phenomenon that potential tourist decide the trip to the destination after a role model according to their motivations, expectations and the perceived physiognomy of a destination.[38]

Gunn differentiates between organic and induced images, whereby the organic image refers to tourist’s impressions of a destination without actually “physically having visited the place”.[39]

Organic images of a destination are usually gained from the media, popular culture, or the educational system.[40]

According to Gunn, induced images usually evolve from both actual visitation of the destination and direct promotional materials[41], or the controlled communicative efforts of the tourism industry.[42]

However, “image is always alternately!”[43] This fact plays a significant role for the analysis of this thesis. Hence, both the perceived image of the MV coastline by potential tourists as well as the image held by tourism marketeers of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania plays an interrelated role regarding the destination’s Danish inbound tourism.

A practical example of the perception including the above mentioned surrounding region of the tourist destination will be highlighted later on in the context of the perceived image of the MV coastline by Danish visitors.

An already existing image of a destination will therefore be able to serve as a “hook to which to hang more detail”[44]

Often, a destination’s image is already existent for the potential tourist, which means, referring to the earlier named definition of a tourist destination, certain perceptions about a destination have already become “taken-for-granted-values”.

In this case, an even more intensive marketing communication has to take place.[45]

Considering such possible perceptions and values of MV by the Danes, the corresponding marketing communication has to be convincing, effective and, most of all, based on proper information about the complying, existing image as it is perceived by the Danish potential visitor, which means that the marketeer must get to know the target group before communicating with selfsame.

In other words, if values of tourist destinations are unknown, the marketeer gets the chance to influence the image formation process prior to the visitation.

This can happen through the different tools of marketing communication, such as the media, the internet or person to person, by word of mouth, for example.

Furthermore, destination images will always depend on current trends.

The deep interrelation between existing trends in the context of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania as a tourist destination for the Danish target market plays a crucial role for the improvement of the marketing activities of the federal state.

This thesis will return to the unique image of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania in the context of current existing trends regarding the Dane’s travel behaviour later on in the context of the empirical analysis.

3.3.3. Destination Brand

The two notions of destination image and destination brand are both regarded as two very interrelated concepts in the tourism context, with “image [as] an important building block in developing destination brands and brand image [as] the set of beliefs that consumers [tourists] hold about a particular brand.”[46]

The brand of a product or, in this context, of a tourism destination, is generally defined as “a name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of these, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors”[47]

Tasci and Kozak refer to the notion of destination brand image rather than discussing the term of destination image alone.[48]

A primarily international brand name and image presently does not exist for Mecklenburg Western Pomerania and its coast line in particular. The issue does, subsequently, represent one of the main problems the federal state. The problem of a missing, international brand for MV will be discussed more detailed later on in chapter 4.4.

In regard to strengthening the international image of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania and therewith to increase the still very low number of incoming tourists, as will be outlined in the fourth chapter of this thesis, it is crucial to develop an internationally known destination image brand for the German federal state as a tourist destination.

When discussing the development of a brand image for a tourist destination, the concept of brand origin has to be considered in particular, defined by Thakor as the “place, region or country to which the brand is perceived to belong by its target consumers[49]

The phenomenon of brand origin compares to the concept of tourism destinations as culture-bound products that will generate associations, which are, in turn, strongly influenced by the cultural background of tourists.[50]

Different information sources and promotional tools lead to the above explained image-forming process in the tourists’ mind, which means that destinations will obtain a certain image.

Automatically, the so-called decoding process of the consumer, or the tourist, begins: As Therkelsen points out, it has been proven that “what appears to the producer is not necessarily the same as what appears to the consumer”.[51]

Therefore, the understanding of cultural, national images, as they are perceived by the respective target market is regarded as a central parameter for marketeers in regard to destination brand establishment and destination promotion.[52]

Logically, MV’s destination marketing activities on the potential Danish target market will be subject to different influential factors as well.

Again, the possible success of destination promotion in Denmark will depend on the above named understanding of the potential consumer in order to ‘fit’ the respective marketing activities.

3.3.4.First time visitors are still mouldable! - The impact of previous visitation on the destination image

Visitors will evaluate a destination brand after dimensions of destination awareness, destination image, the quality level as well as their loyalty towards a destination.[53] Referring to Konecnik and Ruzzier, “previous visitation plays an important role in customer’s evaluation of a tourism destination”[54] .

There is an influential difference between the image formation process of first time visitors and image formation of recurring tourists. Usually, major changes of perception and evaluation occur during the first visitation of a destination.[55]

Taken perceived images into consideration, marketeers could build up on these images by stressing what has not been recognised yet, emphasising what the tourists demanded already prior to the visit. The analysis of evaluations made by first time visitors at the MV coastline will show how these changes of perception occur in a practical context.

One major occurring phenomenon regarding image formation process refers to so- called “once-upon-a-time-impressions”, which stand for attitudes and impressions that have already become values over time.[56] These “once-upon-a-time-impressions” play a major role in the marketing context of Mecklenburg Western Pomerania on the potential Danish target market, referring to the previous and old-fashioned, but often still existing image of MV as the ‘dark, communistic part of Germany’.

However, these impressions do not necessarily need to be treated as disadvantages, since they could serve as a foundation, as the above named “hook to hang more detail on”. These above named impressions of Danish tourists at the MV coastline will be highlighted in more detail at a later stage.

4. Situation Analysis - Tourism in Mecklenburg Western Pomerania

4.1. Tourism as a main economic factor for Germany

Global tourism is booming. In 2007, international tourist arrivals at world wide holiday destinations grew by an estimated six percent to reach a new record figure of nearly 900 million.[57]

Europe remains the most popular and most visited region, covering 54 percent of all tourist arrivals in 2006.[58]

The tourism industry represents a main economic factor for Germany.

Regarding the WTO ranking of the most visited countries worldwide, Germany still holds seventh position, boasting 23.6 million tourists in 2006:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Table 4-1: The ten most visited countries by travellers (inbound). Source: WTO[59]


[1] Cp. WELT newspaper article, 2008, online available from, 21.01.2008

[2] Cp. 23.03.2008

[3] Cp. ibid

[4] http://www.regierung-Mecklenburg Western, 27.03.2008

[5] 23.08.2008

[6] Albrecht Kurbjuhn, expert interview: 29.02.2008. See Appendix A1

[7] Cp. WELT online:; 09.03.2008

[8] Cp. ibid

[9] Cp. 30.03.2008

[10] Tourismusverband Mecklenburg Vorpommern: Konzept Mecklenburg Western Pomerania-Abend; 31.03.2008

[11] Altogether, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania is bordering three countries: Denmark, Sweden and Poland. Regarding the scope of this thesis, only Denmark is of particular interest as a direct neighbour country.

[12] These unique holiday experiences will be highlighted more detailed in chapter five of this thesis.

[13] Picture online available from: bundesland-mecklenburg-vorpommern-karte-landkarte.gif, 19.04.2008

[14] Pictures taken from google pictures: online available from:, 30.04.2008

[15] DZT: Martinformation Dänemark, 200Statistik??--> Berlin als Hauptziel???

[16] Hall & Jenkins in Kvistgaard: pp. 18

[17] Cp. Kvale 1996: Interviews. An introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing, pp. 124

[18] See Appendix A1 for the interview guideline

[19] Cp. Tasci in Tasci & Kozak 2006: pp. 305

[20] Mr. Albrecht Kurbjuhn, chairman of the IIT e.V. and owner of Hotel Polarstern: Expert interview from 29.02.2008. See appendix A1

[21] Hall & Page in Kvistgaard, 2006: pp. 11

[22] WTO:; 14.04.2008

[23] The WTO equates the term ‘country’ with the term ‘region’, considering the fact that ‘region’ can refer to “either to an area within a country or to a group of countries”. See WTO, online available from 1CA25697E0018FBFF?opendocument; 23.04.2008

[24] Cp. Ibid; 13.04.2008

[25] Kotler in Küssner 2005: pp. 15

[26] Cooper, Fletcher, pp. 102

[27] Season and Bennett in Küssner, 2005: ibid.

[28] Cp., 26.05.2008

[29] Bennett, Seaton: Marketing Tourism Products, pp. 7

[30] ibid, pp. 28

[31] Cp. Kotler’s five basic criteria for selecting proper market segments: Kotler in Jensen 2006, pp. 250

[32] Therkelsen 2003: Imaging Places, pp.134

[33] Cp. Jensen 2006,

[34] Wind in Jensen 2006: pp. 248

[35] Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert, Shepherd, Wanhill: Tourism. Principles and Practices, pp.386-387

[36] Jafari in Zdechlikiewitz, pp. 23

[37] Crompton in Tasci and Gartner 2007: Destination Image and Its Functional Relationships, pp. 413

[38] Cp. Luft 2007: pp. 21

[39] Chen 1999: pp. 345

[40] Cp. Therkelsen 2003, pp. 138

[41] Cp. Chen 1999: pp. 345

[42] Therkelsen, ibid.

[43] Cp. ibid

[44] Morgan and Pritchard in Therkelsen 2003, pp. 144

[45] Cp. Therkelsen, 2003: pp.148

[46] Kotler in Tasci and Kozak, 2006: pp.304

[47] ibid, pp. 300

[48] Cp. Ibid, pp. 304

[49] Thakor in Tasci and Kozak, 2006: pp.301

[50] Therkelsen 2003: p. 134

[51] Therkelsen, 2003: p. 139

[52] Cp. Ibid.

[53] Cp. Aaker in Konecnik and Ruzzier 2006: the Influence of previous visitation on Costumer’s Evaluation of a Tourism Destination, p.147

[54] Konecnik & Ruzzier 2006,

[55] Cp.Fakeye and Crompton in Konecnik &Ruzzier 2006: p. 162

[56] Cp. Therkelsen 2003: p. 143

[57] 58 World Tourism Organization, online available from, 21.05.2008

[59] Cp.: WTO, online available from:; 21.04.2008


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Titel: Where are the Danish tourists? - An explorative study of destination image and target group awareness