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Destination Promotion through Images: Exploring Tourists′ Emotions and Their Impact on Behavioral Intentions

Business Management and Sociology Department, Universidad de Extremadura, 10600 Plasencia, Spain
Business Management and Sociology Department, Universidad de Extremadura, 10004 Cáceres, Spain
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2022, 14(15), 9572;
Received: 11 July 2022 / Revised: 1 August 2022 / Accepted: 1 August 2022 / Published: 4 August 2022
(This article belongs to the Section Tourism, Culture, and Heritage)


Tourists are increasingly looking for more emotion in the promotion of destinations in order to make decisions about their holidays. Traditional promotional tools centred on images have advantages over other sensorial tools due to the consumer′s knowledge of them. Nevertheless, simultaneously, the continued use of images leads to the sophistication of the receiver, making it necessary to analyse their capacity to create emotions and their effects. The main objective of this study is to evaluate consumers′ emotional reactions to visual stimuli through conscious and unconscious responses. With a sample of 38 students, a within-subjects study is carried out to compare emotional reactions and behavioural intentions in a 2 × 3 factorial experimental design, facing two international destinations and three tourist typologies. The results show differences between the emotional values gathered in surveys and sweating data (EDA) and the relationships between these and behavioural intentions. The main contribution of this study is that, despite the emotional evocation capacity of images in young audiences, there are discrepancies in the conditions that provoke greater emotional and behavioural intentions in the different evaluation phases. The main conclusions are that it is necessary to create images that evoke conscious positive emotions to obtain better behavioural intentions results.

1. Introduction

In an increasingly globalised world with greater ease of movement, the tourism sector and destination managers (DMOs) must be more competitive and seek differentiation strategies through promotion to make the territories more attractive and increase the attention and possible choice of the destination by potential tourists [1]. To this end, DMOs anticipate the quality and differentiating elements in the destination, thus creating the destination image [2]. Currently, marketing campaigns referring to destinations are evolving based on experientiality to motivate the immersion of potential tourists [3,4]. The creation of experiences is based on the inclusion of emotional elements capable of enhancing the offer and creating value [5]. In marketing, emotions are motivating factors in the consumer choice process [6]. In tourism, psychological factors affect the choice of a destination and the activities to be carried out there [7]. Within destinations, affective and emotional elements have a more significant impact on the personal sphere of the potential tourist [5]. The study of the emotional process has been developed by analysing bodily reactions to sensory tools that activate and promote cognitive responses, memory, and improved behavioural intentions [8,9].
In the literature, these emotional relationships, and their reactions to destination images through promotion, have been studied from different perspectives. Authors such as Tercia et al. [10] analyse how promotion through pre-trip destination experiences can influence the decision-making process of potential tourists as this anticipation of experiences as a communication tool fosters the generation of emotions associated with the destination. Güzel et al. [11] argue that positive emotional perceptions of experiential destination attributes lead to better behavioural outcomes. Creating experiential destination messages that are emotionally activating and associated with the destination image promotes visitation motivation and behavioural intentions [12,13]. Authors such as Nghiêm-Phú and Pengiran Bagul [14] jointly study these terms of the personal sphere and destination image creation by conceptualising three typologies of destination image according to the stage of the emotional process, including sensory image, focused on sensory attributes; cognitive image focused on reactions to those stimuli; and affective image, based on conscious feelings evoked.
When applying promotional techniques, different communication tools focus on the various senses [15]. As with branding, in tourism, DMOs must use sensory elements that are effective, attractive and appealing [4,16]. Visual tools are traditionally developed in marketing for their ability to generate ideas and information [16,17] and to provide benefits in marketing behaviours and outcomes [15]. This conventional use of images for promotion has also led to consumer sophistication and, thus, a paradigm shift for managers [15]. As emotional elements are highly relevant in the decision-making of potential tourists, images used in promotion must evoke emotions and affective elements [17].
Different authors have developed the study of the promotion of destinations with tools such as videos or images, and several have carried out analyses using neuroscience tools, psychophysiological measurements and eye-tracking in tourism to evaluate the different reactions between destinations. On the other hand, up to our knowledge, no evidence has been found of tourism studies that jointly evaluate the comparisons of two international destinations by focusing on the tourism typologies offered, through emotional measurement of the consumer´s reactions from two different methodological approaches (surveys and psychophysiological tools). Faced with this gap in research, this article aims to analyse the emotion-evoking capacity of images in the promotion of destinations, studying the different results of conscious and unconscious reactions to various tourist typologies in two international destinations. Following the above premises, the research question posed is: how do images emotionally affect the promotion of tourist destinations and typologies in the young segment?
The present work shows the following structure. After this introduction, a general literature review is presented in Section 2. The methodology for the development of the research is explained in Section 3. Section 4 is dedicated to data analysis and results. Discussion of results is developed in Section 5. Finally, Section 6 shows the conclusions, limitations and future research lines of the paper.

2. Literature Review

The promotion of destination experiences in the stage prior to the tourist′s choice can influence the decision-making process of the potential tourist [10,18] through anticipation [19]. For this reason, the tools applied in destination promotion should enhance experientiality [4]. These tools used in tourism communication should include affective and emotional elements, which help generate a prior destination image [20] and pre-experience expectations [3], as this affective image has better results for potential tourists [14]. Images as communication tools are characterised by being the most common and traditionally used type of sensory stimuli, hence their great effectiveness in the association and evocation of destinations [15,16,17,19,21]. Images also promote confidence and anticipation of the destination that leads to better behavioural results [18]. The capacity of these images to generate emotions in promoting tourism destinations is considered. Based on these considerations, H1 is proposed:
The viewing of images of tourism experiences evokes conscious and unconscious emotions.
For the study of this emotional arousal, different authors propose the dilemma of the psychological study of the tourist, a dual perspective being necessary to understand the overall behaviour [22,23,24]. The creation of the destination image, moreover, is structured in different ways depending on the reactions of the potential tourist, and it is crucial to analyse these initial unconscious reactions and the conscious and more cognitive ones [14].
On the one hand, the use of psychophysiological measurements is recommended to understand the consumer′s unconscious behaviour, their reactions to stimuli and the results of these [25], applying the SOR Model of Mehrabian and Russell (1974) [26], widely used in the literature (Table 1) [27], which analyses the organic reactions to different stimuli and the responses to these reactions. Therefore, the unconscious emotional reactions of the tourist-to-tourist images are analysed.
There is emotional arousal through electrodermal (unconscious) responses when evaluating images that evoke tourist experiences.
On the other hand, the different studies applied in marketing also suggest, as a theoretical basis for understanding behaviour, the PAD Model by Mehrabian and Russell [25], which establishes the bases of the dimensionality of emotions divided into Pleasure and Arousal, referring to arousal and emotional valence as complementary elements that evaluate pleasantness and emotional power using bipolar emotional states applicable to questionnaires. Therefore, the conscious reactions associated with the tourist′s cognitive responses to tourist images are analysed.
There are positive verbal (conscious) responses when evaluating images that evoke tourist experiences.
According to Li et al. [28], the evaluation process of destination tourism communication affects destination choice. Furthermore, the tourism offer and the development of different typologies in the destination affect destination choice [30]. Based on Petty and Cacioppo′s (1986) elaboration likelihood model (ELM) [31], promotion can have different probabilities of persuasion and changes in audience attitude depending on the typology and characteristics of the message. Le et al. [3] analyse the relevance of images in destination promotion through a bibliometric study. It is reinforced the idea that emotional and experiential images produce changes in tourists in ways that affect their future behaviour due to individual situational factors. It is therefore proposed to study the different reactions, both conscious and unconscious, of potential tourists to different tourist destinations and typologies, and to this end, the following hypotheses are put forward:
There are conscious and unconscious differences in the evaluation of images that evoke tourist experiences depending on the destination and tourist typology.
There are differences between the results of electrodermal arousal (unconscious) in the different conditions (destination x tourist typology).
There are differences between the verbal (conscious) results in the different conditions (destination x tourist typology).
According to the study by Qiu et al. [32], the emotions that arise through visual tools lead to tourist behaviour and satisfaction. Through the destination image, some emotions generate both affective and cognitive outcomes in recommendation and visitation intentions [19]. Some studies argue that there are differences between the effects of conscious and unconscious emotional reactions on tourist intentions [1,14,28]. Therefore, an analysis is proposed to relate the different data of both conscious and unconscious nature and the possible outcomes of behavioural intentions.
There is a relationship between electrodermal evaluation and verbal outcomes of experiences with behavioural intentions.
Better electrodermal arousal values lead to better results in behavioural intentions.
More positive values of emotional and verbal evaluation lead to better results in behavioural intentions.
The approach of the different hypotheses leads to the theoretical model shown in Figure 1, which will be evaluated through combined methodologies to approach and understand the potential tourist′s behaviour from different personal spheres.

3. Materials and Methods

In order to respond to the research hypotheses, set out and achieve the objective of this research, an exploratory study is carried out using two complementary methodologies that help obtain primary data on potential tourist behaviour in the face of stimuli evoked by the visual promotion of destinations.
The methodology used combines two measurement tools that make it possible to evaluate various spheres of consumer behaviour. The use of experimental tools and the complementation with other methodologies helps to understand the participants′ reactions better, generating a global knowledge of the decision-making process [33]. The literature suggests the measurement of psychophysiological activity in the different phases of the experience by creating environmental stimuli [25], in this case visual, that provoke changes in this activity [34]. Sweating data are collected using an exosomatic method of bipolar electrodes placed on the phalanges of the hand [35]. Galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors measure electrodermal activity in microsiemens (μS). This information on sweating activity has previously been used in research to assess emotional arousal [36] in preference studies [37,38]. In addition, survey methodology is used to collect conscious data on behavioural intentions and emotions that complement and aid the comparison of conscious and unconscious reactions [28,29,30,38,39].
Experiments are conducted in a controlled laboratory setting to ensure greater internal validity, thus eliminating confounding factors and reducing biases that may affect participants′ behaviour [33]. The experimental design provides for an evaluation of visual stimuli within-subject design. The benefits of this experimental design are that the study helps understand behaviours more comprehensively and minimises random noise [33,36]. Data collection will take place between 11 November and 9 December 2021.
The sample is represented by university students, selected through a non-probabilistic convenience and snowball sampling technique, and was chosen for several important reasons in the development of the study. Firstly, it is relevant to develop studies referring to tourism and visual promotion in specific target groups [13]. Academic studies have also paid little attention to students′ motivations when choosing their holidays, despite being an attractive segment since they represent up to 20% of international travellers and are characterised by seasonally unseasonal demand, having more leisure time during all seasons [7]. Methodologically, studies with psychophysiological data recommend using homogeneous groups for the sample so that comparisons are better validated and there are no age or cultural differences [40]. On a practical level, it has been shown that electrodermal activity data are affected by the sample′s age, with younger participants providing better results [40]. Therefore, this market greatly appeals to tourism research [7,30].
There were 41 participants, of which 3 were eliminated due to lack of information in the questionnaires (Table 2). The total sample used is 38 subjects, with an average age of 22 years; 60.53% are women, and 39.47% are men.
The stimulus focuses on evaluating images of destinations and tourist typologies in a 2 × 3 matrix: two destinations: Egypt and the Caribbean, and three tourism typologies: active tourism, sun and beach tourism and cultural tourism (Appendix A). Authors such as Li et al. (2018) [25] or Michael et al. (2019) [12] opt for the use of different destinations to minimise preference bias. In this case, two international destinations are used, as the sample of young people shows more interest in destinations far from home [7], which can be valuable without preference bias. Thrane (2008) [30] finds that tourism typologies affect the choice of the holiday destination in the student segment, while other elements, such as socio-demographic characteristics do not generate differentiated results. The images of the destinations and the different tourist typologies are taken from the destination′s official websites, making these images rigorous and representative [16,28]. This study uses images from the website (accessed on 1 November 2021) for Egypt and (accessed on 1 November 2021) for the Caribbean. The tourism typologies refer to cultural tourism, active tourism and sun and beach tourism, three of the most prominent typologies in the interests of young tourists [7]. The experimental protocols of authors such as Lourenção et al. [29] and Li et al. [16], who use two-by-two comparisons, where different conditions are shown, are taken as a reference. In this case, two-by-two images are shown, each referring to a destination. The evaluation of the images has a duration of 7 s. This time is taken because the activity occurs between the 1st and 5th seconds after the stimulus appearance [35]. These images are randomised to avoid bias due to order [33]. In addition, Lourenção et al. [29] conducted a questionnaire based on the images. This study assesses three variables after each pair of images: arousal, valence, and behavioural intentions (Appendix B).
The first two variables are adapted from the items of Bradley and Lang [41] through the PAD Model [26], widely used in affective-cognitive models to understand emotional processes in consumers [42]. These categorical arousal-valence measures have been integrated with electrodermal activity experiments [28], making the data comparable and interesting to analyse together.
Behavioural intentions are measured based on the items of Walters, Sparks and Herington (2012) [17] that assess potential consumers' decision-making process, taking into account the emotional sphere in visual tourism communication. The items that are adapted are the following: “I would like more information about this destination”, “I am curious about this destination”, “I am intrigued by this destination”, and “My willingness to buy a holiday at this destination is very low-very high” and “I am confident that this holiday is the right choice for me”. The variables are measured using a 7-point Likert scale in the reference article by Walters, Sparks and Herington (2012) [17]. IBM SPSS Statistics 22 will be used to perform the statistical analyses.

4. Results

4.1. Electrodermal Data (Unconscious Responses)

In this study, electrodermal data are taken as a reference to evaluate unconscious results. For data unification, the electrodermal activity (EDA) amplitude is considered an indicator previously used in the literature as a reference for the unification and processing of psychophysiological data [28,39,43,44]. In this study, the EDA Ratio previously used in marketing by Vila-López and Küster-Boluda [44] and proposed by Hurley et al. [45] is taken as an indicator of dermal amplitude, describing the strength of each excitation through the formula:
EDA   arousal   ratio = ( EDApeak     EDAmin ) ( EDA max     EDAmin )
For each participant, a total of 6 EDA Ratios are taken, one for each condition. For the subsequent pooled analyses, the mean data for each condition of the total sample of participants is taken.
As Table 3 shows, since all EDA ratios are greater than 0, hypothesis H1a can be confirmed since there is emotional arousal to all stimuli. The mean EDA ratio data taken for each condition (destination × tourist typology) are different in each case, supporting hypothesis H2a.
Considering that the most relevant physiological responses are those associated with the most stable skin reactions [44], the most stable EDA ratio values are taken through the smallest maximum values within each condition and, in this case, are related to the sun and beach tourism in the Caribbean destination (Max. EDA ratio = 22.66).
Parametric tests will be performed for these data, as authors such as Li et al. [28] assume normality of the data with a similar sample for a sweating study to measure emotional responses. This is why a student’s t-test is performed (Table 3), showing that, in all cases, there is a significantly less than 0.5 for a significance level of 95%. Therefore, the means of the conditions studied are not equal, with differences between the groups. Furthermore, it is confirmed that the EDA ratios are not homogeneous, as it can be seen from the Pearson test (Table 3) that all the values are greater than 0.5 and that the strength of this correlation is high (all greater than 0.7). Moreover, these correlations are significant (p < 0.01), implying that the electrodermal response for each pair of conditions is not the same. H2a is therefore confirmed.

4.2. Surveys (Conscious Responses)

Conscious results from the post-experiment questionnaires are evaluated based on the mean of all participants′ data for each condition on a 7-point Likert scale. The values taken on the variable arousal support values around and above 4 in all conditions. The arousal values are lower. However, H1b is confirmed. In reference to this variable, except for the sun and beach typology, Egypt is the destination that obtains the highest arousal values in the active tourism and cultural tourism typology. Authors such as Bosshard et al. [46] suggest a relationship between implicit association and affective reactions. This is likely to be the case for the sun and beach tourism typology since, for the Caribbean, the demanding market for this tourism typology (sun and beach) is one of its main competitive segments [47], and there may be an association on the part of the consumer that biases the results from the surveys.
In addition, it is relevant to analyse the data of the other two variables evaluated in relation to arousal: emotional valence and behavioural intentions. In the case of sun and beach and cultural tourism, the relationship is directly between the three variables: higher arousal is associated with higher values of valence, i.e., these emotions generated are positive, and it is related to higher behavioural intentions. In the case of sun and beach tourism, the highest results are related to the Caribbean destination, and in the case of cultural tourism, higher data are obtained for the destination of Egypt.
The active tourism typology has lower values of valence and intentions associated with the destination of Egypt, which, on the other hand, produces higher arousal values. This inverse relationship can be explained by the nature of the images shown in the experiment, both extreme sports activities (diving and motorbike tours), which can lead to negative emotions (low valence) and lower behavioural intentions due to this negativity of emotions. The images produce higher emotional arousal data when showing immersive activities but do not have positive results on participants′ affective evaluation and intentions.
To demonstrate the reliability of the scales, Chronbach′s Alpha values are taken, which in this case is 0.941, being higher than the reference threshold of 0.6 taken by authors such as Vila-López and Küster-Boluda [44], which demonstrates the reliability of the scales. Different statistical analyses are carried out to analyse the differences between the conditions.
A t-test is performed for independent samples, with the grouping factor being the destinations (Egypt and the Caribbean). The verbal data are analysed according to these two groups, and it is found that there are statistically significant differences between the values of valence (sig. = 0.003; p < 0.05) and the values of behavioural intentions (sig. = 0.004; p < 0.05). Notably, there are no significant differences between destinations for arousal data (sig. = 0.489; p < 0.05).
To test the differences between the results of the different conditions, not only taking into account the destination but also the tourist typology, an ANOVA analysis is carried out using the six different conditions of the stimuli (destination × tourist typology) as a factor. Table 4 shows the results of the F-test for variance between group means and significance. The p-value is statistically significant in all cases, showing differences in the values of the variables. Therefore, hypothesis H2b can be confirmed, as there are significant differences between the verbal results by typology and the variable valence and behavioural intentions referred to as a destination.

4.3. Relationships between Conscious and Unconscious Emotional Evaluation

To analyse the relationship between the conscious variables from the questionnaire and the unconscious variables from the electrodermal data, a Pearson test was performed to assess the correlations between the variables (Table 5). Results show a clear trend in which, under all conditions, the means from the surveys are related in the following way: the mean of the arousal variable is related to the valence variable and, in turn, to the mean of the behavioural intentions variable. Furthermore, the mean of the valence variable is also correlated with the behavioural intentions variable. Therefore, hypothesis H3b is confirmed.
There are no significant correlations between the variables referring to behavioural intentions assessed by the questionnaire and the EDA ratio of reference in electrodermal activity. Therefore, H3a cannot be confirmed. On the other hand, there is an interesting correlation between the EDA ratios of the different tourist typologies, with a correlation between the EDA ratio of the Caribbean destination and the Egyptian destination in the three tourist typologies: active tourism (corr. = 0.920; p < 0.01); sun and beach tourism (corr. = 0.748; p < 0.01) and cultural tourism (corr. = 0.939; p < 0.01).
All results serve to support the hypothesis described above, as shown in Table 6.

5. Discussion

Destination images continue to be an excellent promotional resource as they affect the emotional reactions of young tourists. Visual perception through photography is essential in the tourist′s evaluation of the destination [48]. The results show a difference between the evaluation of images associated with destinations and tourist typologies. The decision-making process varies according to the data collection methodology used, at the conscious and unconscious level, and there are differences in the results in the subjects’ reactions.
On the one hand, there are no relationships between arousal results of different natures (conscious and unconscious). We can therefore confirm the difficulty of conceptualising the arousal variable through differentiated models of relationships with electrodermal variables and variables validated through questionnaires. This disparity in arousal results may be due to the timing of data collection. Authors such as Nghiêm-Phú and Pengiran Bagul [14] have already proposed the study of destination images separately according to the stages of the tourist′s emotional process (sensory, affective, and cognitive image) and, therefore, the methodology for measuring them.
The results also demonstrate different behaviours towards visual promotional elements depending on the destination and the type of tourism. Promoting different destinations and associated with different tourist typologies leads to different conscious (surveys) and unconscious (EDA) responses, affecting the evaluation of these. The results of the condition that houses the sun and beach tourism typology in the Caribbean destination have a similar trend from both perspectives, presenting the most stable EDA Ratio data and the best rated in both valence and behavioural intentions through the questionnaire. Furthermore, these results align with Shields′ [7] assumptions about the preference for sun and beach tourism versus the young market′s lower interest in historical resources. Furthermore, these results may also be related to the theoretical basis that the association of previous brand images, created through knowledge and learning, can lead to positive, conscious evaluations [45,49] and the strong promotion and marketing of the sun and beach tourism offer that is developed in the Caribbean destination [47].
The statistically significant relationships shown by the conscious results have been recently tested in the literature through different studies [3]. Among others, these already related the variables of emotional arousal and emotional valence through the dimensionality of emotions [24], the variable of emotional arousal and behavioural intentions [11], and the variable of valence and behavioural intentions [50]. As for unconscious reactions, in Nghiêm-Phú and Pengiran Bagul′s study [14], the psychological target image, related to the most immediate reactions to a sensory stimulus, did not show significant results on behavioural intentions either.

6. Conclusions

Intending to answer questions related to emotionality through visual sensory tools, this study frames the conditions and discrepancies that destination managers and tourism marketing professionals may encounter when working on an affective promotion with images of destinations and tourism experiences.
First, the results show the emotional creation capacity of destination images, the different conscious and unconscious reactions of the tourist to them and the relationship between this arousal and future behaviours, being of great relevance to monitoring the tourist′s decision-making and behavioural process.
Furthermore, there are differences between the emotional evaluation of destinations and tourist typologies in both the conscious and unconscious results, confirming, therefore, the capacity of images for the communication of destinations through tourist experiences as an anticipation of the trip in the young market. Different destinations and tourist typologies have different results, so it is possible to confirm that these elements affect the evaluation process of the potential tourist. It is worth highlighting the relationship that exists at a conscious level between the variables referring to emotionality (arousal and valence) and those referring to behavioural intentions. This study confirms the relationship between the variable’s arousal → valence → behavioural intentions in the evaluation of images as a destination promotion tool. On the other hand, it is suggested that unconscious reactions at the affective level have little influence on behavioural results, so it should be considered whether the images (with the characteristics of the images used) are effective elements for emotional promotion and to evaluate the inclusion of more suggestive visual elements in the use of destination promotion through visual tools.
Finally, these data also highlight the disparity in measuring the arousal variable through surveys and psychophysiological measures. This may be due to the difficulty many authors have already argued in measuring emotional arousal in questionnaires with variables and items that are difficult to understand because they come from other sciences such as psychology and use terms unfamiliar to tourists [21]. In the development of the experiment itself, the participants also perceived this difficulty in understanding the questions associated with emotional arousal. Some limitations of this study are related to the sample and the non-probabilistic sampling techniques used. The results achieved should be considered in this context or similar ones. Some other tourist markets as seniors that have different characteristics in the decision-making process, could be studied and compared. Moreover, the images were taken from the promotional website of the destinations. In future research, image selection could be improved in order to assure the representativeness of the stimuli. Some of the scales used in the questionnaires have been perceived as unclear by some participants, so, it could be useful to better the scale selection in the future. Finally, a question about familiarity with the destination could have been included at the beginning of the questionnaire in order to further explore the differences between first visitors and repeaters.
Within the theoretical implications, the multiplicity of options for assessing emotions leads to the need for combined methodological studies of this nature. Some theoretical contributions based on theories concerning different fields of research are made. The combination of psychological, behavioural and communication theories represents a theoretical advance in the field of study. This paper combines behavioural theories such as the SOR model by Mehrabian and Russell (1974) [26] and theories from attitudinal psychology such as the ELM Model by Petty and Cacioppo in 1980, all applied to the field of communication and message to measure short-term bodily reactions and long-term reactions through the characteristics proposed by Lang (2011) [37] and referred to the theory of emotional imagery. This article also aims to provide methodological insights into complementary emotional analyses and a glimpse of the differences that arise when evaluating promotional tools at the affective level at different stages of tourist evaluation and their impact on behaviour and intentions. The application environment frames new options in tourism based on lines and works from marketing, sociology and behavioural sciences. Of great interest is the application of different methodologies of behavioural studies according to the stage of evaluation of the destination and the tourist′s experiences.
As practical implications, these results can offer criteria for managing the visual communication of destinations, highlighting the emotional differences between destinations and tourist typologies and detailing the decision-making process through conscious and unconscious reactions. In the application of these visual communication techniques, therefore, it will be necessary for DMOs and marketing professionals to carry out campaigns that produce emotions at an unconscious level but, above all, that the tourist captures these emotions as positive through the valence of their conscious responses since this variable is directly related to future behaviour. It would also be necessary to know the tourist′s previous image of the destination to establish strategic lines of dissemination of varied and adapted images that cover different markets and tourist typologies according to the tourist′s interests or associations. In order to cover different segments, DMOs must create varied visual content through the promotion of different types of tourism. However, in order to meet the preferences of the generic market, the recommendation is to use images associated with landscapes and environments rather than with activities.
The study of the implicit association between the destination and the different tourist typologies and how it affects knowledge and learning in evaluating destinations are proposed as future lines of research [49]. In addition, sensory studies can be carried out, including other senses of evocation. Despite the effective creation capacity of images, the generalised use of images can lead to habit and lack of interest on the receiver′s part. This is why two ways of enhancing this emotionality are proposed: by evoking other senses through sight, as developed by Barbosa Escobar et al. [51] with the use of evocative images of textures; or by including different sensory elements (olfactory, auditory, gustatory or tactile) in a complementary way to create more emotional sensory environments.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, B.-S.P.-G. and E.S.-V.; methodology, A.M.-L. and E.S.-V.; validation, B.-S.P.-G.; formal analysis, E.S.-V. and A.M.-L.; investigation, A.M.-L.; data curation, B.-S.P.-G. and E.S.-V.; writing—original draft preparation, A.M.-L.; writing—review and editing, E.D.-C.; visualization, B.-S.P.-G.; supervision, E.D.-C.; project administration, E.D.-C.; funding acquisition, E.D.-C. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research was funded by Diputación de Cáceres (Spain) with the project “Tajo-Salor: La Torta, sus tierras y sus aguas” (Ref. AV-2). Sustainability 14 09572 i001.

Institutional Review Board Statement

The study was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and approved by the Ethics Committee of UNIVERSIDAD DE EXTREMADURA (protocol code: 88/2021 and date of approval: 16 June 2021).

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available in DATA_Destination promotion through emotional images.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A

Figure A1. Evaluation images by destination and typology.
Figure A1. Evaluation images by destination and typology.
Sustainability 14 09572 g0a1

Appendix B

Table A1. Evaluation questionnaire for each pair of images proposed (see Appendix A).
Table A1. Evaluation questionnaire for each pair of images proposed (see Appendix A).
How would you rate your emotional arousal to each of the experiences shown?How would you rate your emotional arousal to each of the experiences shown?
1234567 1234567
Unaroused ArousedUnaroused Aroused
Sluggish FrenziedSluggish Frenzied
Relaxed EstimulatedRelaxed Estimulated
Calm ExcitedCalm Excited
Dully JitteryDully Jittery
What emotion does each of the experiences shown provoke in you?What emotion does each of the experiences shown provoke in you?
1234567 1234567
Unhappy HappyUnhappy Happy
Bored RelaxedBored Relaxed
Unsatisfied SatisfiedUnsatisfied Satisfied
Annoyed PleasedAnnoyed Pleased
Please rate the following statements for each experience
1 being “strongly disagree” and 7 being “strongly agree”
Please rate the following statements for each experience
1 being “strongly disagree” and 7 being “strongly agree”
1234567 1234567
I would like more information about this destination I would like more information about this destination
I am curious about this destination I am curious about this destination
I am intrigued by this destination I am intrigued by this destination
My willingness to buy a holiday at this destination is very low-very high My willingness to buy a holiday at this destination is very low-very high
I am confident that this holiday is the left choice for me I am confident that this holiday is the right choice for me


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Figure 1. Theoretical foundation.
Figure 1. Theoretical foundation.
Sustainability 14 09572 g001
Table 1. Destination imaging studies with psychophysiological data.
Table 1. Destination imaging studies with psychophysiological data.
ReferenceMethodologyExperimental SpecificationsScope
[8]EEGn = 32
Within-subject experimental design
Stimuli: images
2 destinations
Destination Advertisement
[16]Eye-tracking + Surveysn = 32
Within-subjects experimental design
Stimuli: images
1 destination
Destination Advertisement
[28]SCR + EMG + Surveysn = 33
Within-subjects experimental design
Stimulus: promotional video
3 destinations
Destination Advertisement
[29]Eye-tracking + Surveysn = 97
Within-subject experimental design
Stimuli: images
1 destination
Destination Advertisement
[12]Eye-tracking + EEGn = 30
Between-subject experimental design
Stimuli: images, videos and slogans
5 destinations
Destinations Image Communication
[13]Eye-tracking + Surveysn = 30
Within-subjects experimental design
Stimuli: images
1 destination
Destination Image Communication
Source: own elaboration. Note: SCR: skin conductance response, EMG: electromyography, EEG: electroencephalogram.
Table 2. Technical details of the research.
Table 2. Technical details of the research.
UniversePotential tourists in youth market
SampleNon-probability of convenience
Study dates11 November 2021–9 December 2021
Measurements obtained41 participants
Valid measurements (n)38 participants
Source: Own elaboration.
Table 3. Statistical results of electrodermal data.
Table 3. Statistical results of electrodermal data.
NChoice PercentageEDA RatioMax EDA RatioSig. (Bilateral) *
EC_TURAC10.920 **0.854 **0.912 **0.931 **0.921 **
EE_TURAC 10.912 **0.790 **0.907 **0.790 **
EC_TURSYP 10.748 **0.867 **0.756 **
EE_TURSYP 10.949 **0.983 **
EC_TURCULT 10.939 **
Source: own elaboration. Note: EC_TURAC: EDA active tourism in the Caribbean; EE_TURAC: EDA active tourism in Egypt; EC_TURSYP: EDA sun and sea tourism in the Caribbean; EE_TURSYP: EDA sun and sea tourism in Egypt; EC_TURCULT: cultural tourism in the Caribbean; EE_TURCULT: EDA cultural tourism in Egypt. * Student′s t-test. ** Pearson′s correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).
Table 4. Statistical results of survey data.
Table 4. Statistical results of survey data.
Behavioural intentions4.963.825.534.384.945.325.640.000
Willingness to buy4.753.615.604.364.615.125.390.000
Best option4.223.125.334.124.444.695.110.000
Source: own elaboration. Note: C_TURAC: active tourism in the Caribbean, E_TURAC: active tourism in Egypt, C_TURSYP: sun and sea tourism in the Caribbean, E_TURSYP: sun and sea tourism in Egypt, C_TURCUL: cultural tourism in the Caribbean, E_TURCUL: cultural tourism in Egypt.
Table 5. Correlations of conscious data.
Table 5. Correlations of conscious data.
Active Tourism
MAR CaribbeanMVAL CaribbeanMAR Caribbean →MIC CaribbeanMVAL CaribbeanMIC CaribbeanMAR Egypt→ MVAL EgyptMAR Egypt→ MIC EgyptMVAL EgyptMIC Egypt
Corr. Pearson
Sig. (Bilateral)
0.555 **
0.483 **
0.501 **
0.870 **
0.724 **
0.814 **
SUN and SEA Tourism
MAR Caribbean→ MVAL CaribbeanMAR Caribbean → MIC CaribbeanMVAL CaribbeanMIC CaribbeanMAR Egypt→ MVAL EgyptMAR Egypt→ MIC EgyptMVAL EgyptMIC Egypt
Corr. Pearson
Sig. (Bilateral)
0.405 **
0.433 **
0.701 **
0.497 **
0.585 **
0.815 **
Cultural Tourism
MAR Caribbean→ MVAL CaribbeanMAR Caribbean→ MIC CaribbeanMVAL CaribbeanMIC CaribbeanMAR Egypt → MVAL EgyptMAR Egypt→ MIC EgyptMVAL EgyptMIC Egypt
Corr. Pearson
Sig. (Bilateral)
0.464 **
0.575 **
0.624 **
0.850 **
0.746 **
0.806 **
Source: own elaboration. ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). Note: MAR: mean arousal variable data, MVAL: mean valence variable data, MIC: mean behavioural intentions variable data.
Table 6. Hypotheses support.
Table 6. Hypotheses support.
H1The viewing of images of tourism experiences evokes conscious and unconscious emotionsSupported
H1aThere is emotional arousal through electrodermal (unconscious) responses when evaluating images that evoke tourist experiencesSupported
H1bThere are positive verbal (conscious) responses when evaluating images that evoke tourist experiencesSupported
H2There are conscious and unconscious differences in the evaluation of images that evoke tourist experiences depending on the destination and tourist typologySupported
H2aThere are differences between the results of electrodermal arousal (unconscious) in the different conditions (destination x tourist typology)Supported
H2bThere are differences between the verbal (conscious) results in the different conditions (destination x tourist typology)Supported
H3There is a relationship between electrodermal evaluation and verbal outcomes of experiences with behavioural intentions
H3aBetter electrodermal arousal values lead to better results in behavioural intentionsNot supported
H3bMore positive values of emotional and verbal evaluation lead to better results in behavioural intentionsSupported
Source: own elaboration.
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Di-Clemente, E.; Moreno-Lobato, A.; Sánchez-Vargas, E.; Pasaco-González, B.-S. Destination Promotion through Images: Exploring Tourists′ Emotions and Their Impact on Behavioral Intentions. Sustainability 2022, 14, 9572.

AMA Style

Di-Clemente E, Moreno-Lobato A, Sánchez-Vargas E, Pasaco-González B-S. Destination Promotion through Images: Exploring Tourists′ Emotions and Their Impact on Behavioral Intentions. Sustainability. 2022; 14(15):9572.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Di-Clemente, Elide, Ana Moreno-Lobato, Elena Sánchez-Vargas, and Bárbara-Sofía Pasaco-González. 2022. "Destination Promotion through Images: Exploring Tourists′ Emotions and Their Impact on Behavioral Intentions" Sustainability 14, no. 15: 9572.

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