VOLCANOS AND TOURISTS: ICELAND’‘S TEFLON IMAGE

Thorhallur Gudlaugsson, School of Business, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland
Fridrik Larsen, School of Business, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland

Published in

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BUSINESS RESEARCH
Volume 19, Issue 1, p31-42, March 2019

ABSTRACT

In this study, the authors evaluate whether the volcanic eruption occurring in Iceland in 2010 influenced the country’‘s image among foreign tourists. The research is grounded on surveys from 2008, 2009 and 2014. All surveys measured 12 attribute images of Iceland compared to five other countries: Norway, Scotland, Finland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. To examine the image effects, perceptual mapping technique was uses. The outcomes reveal that Iceland’‘s image in 2014 was comparable to what the image was in 2008 and 2009. Iceland had a strong connection to the same attributes as before, namely, scenic and natural beauty, a safe place to visit, friendly and hospitable and opportunity for adventure. We thus conclude that the volcanic eruption in 2010 had only insignificant influence on Iceland’‘s image among visitors visiting the country in the summer of 2014. In fact, the eruption may have even strengthened the country’‘s connection with nature and related attributes. The research was conducted among visitors who had already decided to travel to Iceland and therefore reflects the effect of the volcanic eruption only among those tourists and not among other possible travelers. However, we conclude that a strong, positive and unique image is critical for the destination’‘s brand, especially after major natural events like a volcanic eruption. By using longitudinal data, we empirically demonstrate that, based on the selected variables, major natural events may have only a marginal effect on a country’‘s image, contradicting previous studies.

Keywords

Destination image, volcanic eruption, perceptual mapping


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