The use of social media in the decision-making process of foreign tourist bloggers in the Dutch touristic periphery
Veenendaal, T. van
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This research is about the decision making process of foreign tourist bloggers who paid a visit to the Dutch touristic periphery. The majority of the tourists who visit Holland ends up in the city of Amsterdam and the neighbouring cities and areas that offer tulips, windmills, clogs and other famous Dutch highlights. A smaller group visits the lesser-known areas of the country. This touristic periphery contains the whole country except for the provinces of North-Holland, South-Holland and the city of Utrecht. The focus of the research is to determine the role of social media in the formation of the pre-visit destination image of the tourist, leading to the purchase of the touristic product. This subject obtains its relevance in the lack of data on three points. In the social context, there is no research available about the spatial behaviour of tourists in the Dutch touristic periphery and the underlying motives of that behaviour. In the academical context, not much attention has been paid to the role of social media as a touristic information and communication source. On top of that, most researches focus on the supply side of the tourist sector. This research focusses on the demand side. To achieve the data needed to answer the research questions, a content analysis of blogs mixed with in-depth interviews with bloggers has been conducted. The character of this research is qualitative and explorative. The conclusion is that social media plays only a marginal role in the decision making process of the bloggers participating in this research. The main information sources are still traditional one-way media, like travel guides and internet sites. Word-of-mouth is also important. In these results lies a connection with a research of the national tourist board NBTC, conducted among a large sample of all foreign tourists visiting the whole country, that shows the same trend in importance of information sources. Social media is still fairly new and despite its recent growth a small factor. The question remains if that will stay that way in the future. The behavioural pattern of the bloggers participating in this research shows a majority of people staying at one location in the periphery from which daytrips are undertaken to different locations, also to the touristic center. A smaller portion makes a round trip through the country. The motivations for visiting the periphery can be divided in a group making the decision unconsciously, by visiting family or visiting a place without being aware of its peripheral location, and a group choosing for those peripheral characteristics of tranquility, authenticity and uniqueness.