Year

2014

Department

School of Management, Operations and Marketing

Abstract

Despite recognition of the relevance of fashion to tourism – including the United Nations World Travel Organisation’s prediction that destinations will function as fashion accessories, academic research has not empirically studied this phenomenon. Noting this gap, Caldwell and Freire in 2004 called for research to identify factors which contribute to the construction of a fashionable destination. Given the unique nature of tourism and the consequent limitation of applying the findings of research from other fields, this study inductively develops theory to understand the conditions necessary for a destination to be fashionable. Because of the influence industry has on fashion and the knowledge and experience of suppliers, a supply-side perspective was adopted.

This research commenced by developing a definition of fashion owing to the limitations of current definitions in not considering the importance of meaning. To address Caldwell and Freire’s call, a two phase research design was implemented. Phase One explored practice employing in-depth interviews with eighteen tourism experts to establish if fashion was relevant to tourism and if so, to identify destinations perceived to be fashionable and the conditions which made them fashionable. The findings indicated fashion contributed to destination success and uncovered twelve conditions tourism experts considered necessary for a destination to be fashionable. These conditions were formulated into necessary condition propositions. Phase Two was confirmatory and tested the propositions developed in Phase One using a case study methodology. Four fashionable destinations, from the list of those nominated by tourism experts were used as cases to identify if the conditions existed, as predicted, at those destinations. Evidence was found to confirm all twelve propositions.

Literature was consulted to guide the theorisation of the findings. This culminated in the development of the Destination Fashion Conditioning Framework. The framework positions the necessary conditions as sources of communication and identifies actions destination marketers need to perform to develop those sources of communication. Together, the sources of communication and the actions required have a conditioning influence on constructing a fashionable destination meaning.

This thesis makes important contributions. The framework along with the definition of fashion developed represents the theoretical contributions of this work. Additionally, the study contributes to knowledge on methods by testing the reliability of data collected through exploration of practice and by applying the case study methodology to test necessary condition propositions in tourism. The framework contributes to destination marketing by providing a ‘how to’ guide for destinations aiming to be positioned as fashionable. The framework also may be adapted to the broader practice of marketing and used to make other objects and behaviours fashionable.

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