Tourism has become increasingly important in the world due to its relevant role in economic and social development. As a result, this sector is now a battle ground for fierce competition between places interested in developing it. In this highly competitive scenario, tourism marketing is now important and critical to places and organizations that wish to facilitate the process of economic exchange, stay in business, and try to differentiate themselves from their competitors. In addition, the image of a tourist destination plays a vital role in obtaining satisfaction, the process of choosing the place, and possible repeated visitation to the destination area (VALLS, 1996; GUTIERREZ, 2005; MOYA and SANCHEZ, 2005). Although there are other variables that influence the buying decision of a destination by tourists, tourism centres are sold primarily through image. This paper aims to analyze the practice of strategic image management in the development/management of tourism marketing. Its specific objectives are: to discuss image as a perceived quality, as well as its popularity and relevance to the contemporary market, especially tourism market; to identify the marketing of images applied to tourist locations as part of a strategy to attract visitors (tourists), as well as its market context, features, steps, and relevance to the tourism industry; lastly, to observe the appropriateness of the images broadcast by SPTuris - Sao Paulo tourism and events office - with regard to the perceptions of tourists. We made use of a case study. Following the methodology proposed by Yin (2001), we analyzed the work done by Sao Paulo tourism and events office, São Paulo Turismo - SPTuris, with the aim of observing the marketing practices used by that office and figuring out the elements related to the city’s image for tourism. The paper notes the complexity of the study of image, being a subject of several studies across different areas of knowledge, and in understanding it as a major factor for the acquisition of destinations. The characteristics of tourism product, especially its intangibility, can prevent consumers/ tourists from acquiring the product otherwise. Considering the work on tourism marketing done by Sao Paulo Tourism – SPTuris, official tourism office in Sao Paulo, we infer that it is currently engaged in creating an image of leisure and entertainment to improve tourism development by attracting tourists who travel on leisure.
Key words: Tourism, strategic image management, image, destination.
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