Tourism:Travel and tourism are considered as a market which reflects consumers’ demand for a wide range of travel-related products. The increased interest in this market since world war II made people presume that it might contribute to a country’s economic development. Now, tourism is regarded as the world’s leading industry that bases mostly on the cultural aspect of the hosting country.According to the International Tourism Dictionary (1953), tourism is defined as the combination of human activities that are performed to travel for pleasure, and an industry that is meant to respond to the needs of the tourist.
Hunzieker (1959), on the other hand, said: Tourism is the sum of the phenomena and relationships arising from travel and stays of the non-residents, insofar as they do not lead to permanent residence, and are not connected with any earning activity.As for Cohen (1979); tourism means visiting a place for the purposes of leisure activities, like a holiday, entertainment, visiting family and friends, sports, resting, and recreation.
Although the concept of tourism is mostly related to leisure and entertainment, it also includes business. According to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), tourism is defined as the activities of persons travelling to, and staying in, places outside their usual environment, for not more than one consecutive year, for leisure, business, and other purposes. It is also considered as the combination of services that will satisfy the needs of domestic and foreign visitors during their visit in a given country or a region.Historically speaking, through time, mankind was in a desperate need to travel due to various reasons; people travelled mostly to explore new lands and spread religious, commercial and military movements.One of the main events marked in the history of tourism is the commencement of the Olympics in ancient Greece around 700 B.C, which was succeeded by the Romans contribution in building inns along the roads, the birth of steamboats during the industrial revolution in Europe, the construction of railroads and automobiles, and later, air transportation in the late 1950s. All those innovations have made an important contribution to the tourism sector as they helped drastically in facilitating today’s travel and decreased cost and time.After the 1980s, the interest in exploring new places increased and was of high demand especially with advanced transportation facilities and people’s passion to know different cultures and societies. According to the European Commission (2000), interest in local cultures and urban tourism is growing, due to improving levels of education and economic welfare of common people, the desire to try different tastes, familiarize with different cultures, and shops, and because of the fact that Sea-Sand-Sun tourism has considerably lost its popularity (Emekli 2013).Since cities became popular in attracting tourists, it is of high importance to provide facilities and opportunities to help in the development of urban tourism and ensure tourists will visit multiple times. Such facilities are the accommodation availability at a low cost, easy transportation routes and options for car renting services, public and green attractions for leisure, shopping centres, organised tours to museums and monuments across the cityetc.Another type of tourism emerged and became important and highly recognised is cultural tourism. World Tourism Organisation considers it as an area of great potential growth for this coming century (Keller, 1996a, WTO, 1998). Culture is used explicitly whenever an organisation/agency is willing to improve the country’s tourism sector.Culture:The term culture can be difficult to be defined and this complexity raised various debates among scholars. One of the reasons is the way individuals interpret it on a personal scale and differently than others; every person has a unique way of doing things. Therefore, it would be best to define individual cultures’ beliefs based on what the majority of people follow rather than looking at it from a general viewpoint and neglecting the element of individuality.In this respect, T. Schwartz (1992) defined culture as follow:Culture consists of the derivatives of experience, more or less organized, learned or created by the individuals of a population, including those images or encodements and their interpretations (meanings) transmitted from past generations, from contemporaries, or formed by individuals themselves.On the other hand, recent researches on culture proved that it is not a bounded entity. All cultures, to some extent, are related and reaches a joining point to interact and continuously be in contact with each other. Subsequently, this contact will be of a great benefit for cultural tourism development.According to Spencer-Oatey (2008):Culture is a fuzzy set of basic assumptions and values, orientations to life, beliefs, policies, procedures and behavioural conventions that are shared by a group of people, and that influence (but do not determine) each member’s behaviour and his/her interpretations of the meaning’ of other people’s behaviour.Thus, it is concluded that culture is the whole socially acquired lifestyle inherited from past generations and interpreted by a particular group of people, it consists of the repetitive ways of thinking, feeling and acting which characterise the members of society from others.Cultural Tourism:In recent years, the segment of culture has been widely linked to tourism success and used as an advertising tool for such a growing industry. The World Tourism Organization asserted that cultural tourism accounted for 37% of global tourism and estimated its growth to 15% per year.Cultural tourism is again a difficult term to define precisely as there are as many definitions of cultural tourism as there are cultural tourists (McKercher & Du Cros 2002). One of the most simplified definitions was suggested in 1976 by ICOMOS (International Scientific Committee on Cultural Tourism):Cultural tourism is that form of tourism whose object is, among other aims, the discovery of monuments and sites. It exerts on these last a very positive effect insofar as it contributes -to satisfy its own ends ” to their maintenance and protection. This form of tourism justifies, in fact, the efforts which said maintenance and protection demand of the human community because of the socio-cultural and economic benefits which they bestow on all the populations concerned.This definition was later extended and improved through the constant practices and researches of the committee in order to make it much more specific and detailed. In this respect: Cultural tourism can be defined as that activity which enables people to experience the different ways of life of other people, thereby gaining at first hand an understanding of their costumes, traditions, the physical environment, the intellectual ideas and those places of architectural, historic, archaeological or other cultural significance which remain from earlier times. Cultural tourism differs from recreational tourism in that it seeks to gain an understanding or appreciation of the nature of the place being visited (ICOMOS Charter for Cultural Tourism, Draft April 1997).This form of tourism is seen as the desire to explore a certain society’s culture and environment by people who do not belong to the visited area. Richards (1996) proposed a conceptual definition in order to clarify the concept’s meaning, he defined it as: The movement of persons to cultural attractions away from their normal place of residence, with the intention to gather new information and experiences to satisfy their cultural needs.Such experience lay mostly on visiting cultural heritage sites, architectural memorials and monuments, libraries and theatres, experiencing local art and literatureetc, yet the cultural heritage is considered as the main reason that encourages people for such type of tourism. In 2005, The European Union defined cultural tourism as a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently from ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time.North Africa, as a case study for this research, is a rich region with plenty of preserved cultural heritage sites and monuments which existed for centuries. This area was once united under the rule of different empires namely the Kingdom of Numidia, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Ottomans and lastly by France who colonised the territory. Every settler has left either a historic site or influenced the current North African culture. Today, the three countries (Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco) are aware of the importance of this heritage and its positive impact on their economic and social development. Authorities are aiming to promote their cultural heritage in order to reinforce their identity and build a successful destination image on an international scale.Destination Image:The concept of destination image has been widely linked to tourism success or failure, it plays an important role in promoting a destination through connotations and mental constructs. It is seen as the total impression an entity makes in the minds of others (Echtner & Ritchie 1991) and the beliefs others process about a certain destination from a variety of sources over time. Lawson and Baud-Bovey (1977) suggested that destination image is the expression of all objective knowledge, impressions, prejudice, imaginations and emotional thoughts an individual or group might have of a particular place.Subsequently, scholars proposed that destination image should be studied by including both cognitive and affective dimensions that attribute into an overall impression of a destination. The cognitive image refers to beliefs and knowledge about a destination, primarily focusing on tangible physical attributes (Pike and Ryan 2004). The affective image, on the other hand, represents feelings about a destination.The inputs that contribute to such impression or image of a destination, traditionally are framed as organic or induced. Gunn (1972) stated, in this respect, that organic image is based on non-commercial sources of information, such as news about the destination in the mass media, education in school, information received and opinions of friends and relatives. Whereas the induced image is based on commercial sources of information, such as different forms of advertising and information from travel agents and tour operators.The image of a destination is regarded as a significant factor in increasing the number of tourists visiting a certain place more than tangible resources. Therefore, it is a key element in the process of selecting destinations among tourists (Gunn, 1988; Hunt, 1975).However, it could be challenging for touristic sector specialists to construct an attractive image. Today, it is of a necessity to design the most competitive touristic destination to attract the maximum of tourists possible on the one hand and to strengthen the ties of these tourists with the destination to generate the desire and the intentions of revisiting again. Thus, a destination must be positively distinguished from its competitors and must have a strong image to be well positioned in the minds and memories of tourists (Echtner & Ritchie 2003).In addition, it is said that the image concept still remains complex and ill-defined in its nature once in the image formation process and that distance might be a factor in constructing the image for the tourist. In this respect, Stepchenkova, et al. (2010) proposed that in the destination image formation process, images differ in accuracy depending on the proximity or distance to the destination, i.e., potential travellers who are closer in distance from a destination, tend to have a more accurate and realistic image of the destination, and tend to be more knowledgeable about the destination. Thus, the greater the distance, the more unrealistic and inaccurate the image becomes.Images and Photography in Tourism:When tourists are exploring and adventuring in a new place, it is an instinct to grab a camera and take photographs of landscapes, historical sites, beaches and every eye-catching feature in the area. This act is driven for personal desire to save memories and souvenirs. From another perspective, the pre-purchase stage is extremely important as it signifies the searches a person make to decide on a destination.Potential tourists dedicate a period for browsing online and checking a destination, it would be dull for them to go through an unlimited number of articles on a chosen travelling spot. Then, it is necessary to implement suitable and relevant images for persuasive purposes.It is said that a picture is worth a thousand word; this visual tool delivers a clear-cut idea about the location and its surrounding more than a language can ever convey. It plays a vigorous role in narrating intricate details of a destination and its aesthetic features Therefore, we realise that tourism and photography are internally related since the latter directly affects the advertising recognition and benefits in the aspects of advertising and marketing of the destination (Percy & Rossiter 1983).According to Garrod (2008), images and photographs are regarded as important factors that affect decision making about travel destinations of tourists by influencing their behaviours and reflecting their satisfaction of tourism places. For such reason, many tourist destinations present their destination images to their target tourists through photographs; they intentionally portray the beauty and charm of their locations through images for the sake of attracting more travellers and thus enhancing their tourism sector (Jenkins 2003).Nowadays, many marketers and tour operators believe that images and photographs are considered as crucial marketing communication materials that are used to promote tourism activities (Cederholm 2004). As a matter of fact, Hall (1995) argues that tourism is an industry built on the selling of images rather than the selling of products and services.