The Evolution of Tourism Destination Image through Travel Guidebooks – The case of Barcelona

2019 edition

Raul Suhett de Morais

Travel Guidebooks are an exceptional source of information for future tourists. These books provide the main structure so that the traveler can understand the Destination, being, therefore, a mediator between the visitor and the place visited. In a time when tourists are rushing to the Internet to find always-changing information similar to an Orwellian world where yesterday’s facts disappear, paper guidebooks are crucial to a longitudinal because the Tourism Destination Image (TDI) they have of any given place lasts as long as their pages exist. My research aims to understand how a TDI changes through time and, in order to do so, I employ the Grounded Theory Method (GTM) to gather data from several Travel Guidebooks from different years and determine how the image changes throughout time. My case study is Barcelona and I have selected 13 guidebooks from 1888 –the year of the first Universal Exposition– to 2016. Due to the immense amount of data and the fragility of some guidebooks, I use the computer assisted qualitative data analysis software ATLAS.ti to help me with the coding, recoding, visualization, retrieving, and analysis of the books. Tourism Research is known to strongly rely on other areas’ theories and methods to understand the phenomenon’s intricate problems. Both working with travel guidebooks and applying the GTM to Tourism Research is an innovative way to provide the discipline with its own research frameworks and it can help develop new paradigms, theories, and practices to the field.