Breaking Brands: New Boundaries in Rural Destinations

Tourism destinations are generally delimited and branded based on administrative boundaries, which act as artificial barriers that may reduce the competitiveness of the tourism sector. Increasingly, literature is taking a demand perspective (i.e., tourist spatial behaviour) when identifying and promoting destinations. This perspective can help to promote destinations more efficiently, particularly in rural areas, where most tourism flows depend on private vehicle and which do not take into account administrative boundaries. These flows are therefore highly conditioned by the geography of the area, hosting capacity and the cumulative effect of attractions. This research centres on brand creation from a tourist perspective, particularly how tourists consume a destination. Els Ports (Spain), a rural mountain area divided into multiple administrative divisions, each marketing its own brand, is taken as a case study. Recently, destination managers have seen the opportunity for regional cooperation and taken steps to cross traditional boundaries to market the area better. This study uses GIS techniques to compare tourist travel patterns with brand boundaries and new cooperative initiatives. The findings provide material for discussion on the branding strategy of Els Ports and the need to rebrand rural tourism destinations into functional tourism areas ​
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