Identifying Mental Patterns of E-Tourism Establishment: Application of Q Methodology the Case Study of Coastal Cities of Mazandaran

Document Type : Article extracted From phd dissertation


Department of Geography and Urban Planning, Chalous Branch, Islamic Azad University, Chalous, Iran


 A B S T R A C T
Today, the tourism industry is not only a leisure activity, but also one of the most important business sectors in the global economy. Electronic tourism and its applications have expanded in recent years, and especially with the spread of the coronavirus, it has been more and more noticed. E-tourism is the digitization of all processes in the tourism industry, which enables organizations to improve their efficiency, so it is necessary to pay special attention to the application and impact of e-tourism. This research was conducted to identify the mental patterns of e-tourism establishment in the coastal cities of Mazandaran province. The current research is of mixed-exploratory type, which was carried out using Q methodology. This research has been done with the participation of ten professors who are familiar with the subject of research and also tourism experts. The discourse space of the current research was collected from various sources and after evaluating and summarizing the discourse space, 32 expressions were selected as samples. In the following, after collecting the information obtained from Q sorting, this information was analyzed with the Q factor analysis method. Distribution analysis showed that three distinct mental patterns could be identified among the research participants, which explained about 68% of the total variance. These three mental models were named according to organization strategy, value creation for tourists and development of the tourism service market. Thus, the results of the research showed that: moving towards the sustainable development of the tourism industry with the establishment of e-tourism to increase the share of tourism in the coastal cities of Mazandaran province requires the formulation of scientific strategies and the creation and recognition of the common values of the company and customers, which creates value, and also through The development of tourism services market ultimately leads to more satisfaction among tourists
Extended Abstract
As one of the most important phenomena of the third millennium, the tourism industry has had a significant impact on the economic growth and dynamism and cultural exchanges of countries during the past half-century with its exponential growth. In the meantime, e-tourism and its applications have expanded and received more attention in recent years, especially with the spread of Covid-19. With 338 kilometers of coastline, Mazandaran province is one of the country's coastal provinces hosting tourists (especially domestic tourists) for a long time. Favorable weather conditions, proximity to the capital's big tourist market, beautiful landscapes, cultural attractions, and the customs of residents are among the reasons for the importance of tourism and the attractiveness of this province for tourists. However, in terms of expanding tourist attraction to it, the void of information and communication technology and electronic services is well felt, and unfortunately, not paying attention to the use of information technologies can cause irreparable damage even to the traditional way of tourism in the coastal cities of this province. Therefore, by creating appropriate technical infrastructures and platforms in these cities, it is possible to use information and communication technology in the tourism industry and encourage suppliers and consumers of tourism products and services to use technology, information, and, ultimately, the development of electronic tourism while consolidating and strengthening its tourism position in Iran as a center for attracting tourists at the world level should also be considered.
The philosophical framework of this research is an interpretative-positivist paradigm, and in terms of orientation, it is in the category of applied research. The research method is mixed-exploratory, and its execution method is of a combined type. The current research uses a qualitative method in the stages of collecting opinions and uses a quantitative approach in the
stage of discovering mentalities (exploratory factor analysis). Regarding data collection, the current research is considered a field library. In the current research, ten academic staff members and tourism experts were selected as a non-probability and purposeful sample. Content validity and face validity were also exerted to determine validity. Several tools can measure reliability in Q methodology; one of these tools is test-retest.
Results and discussion
In this research, 32 identified factors were provided to all ten people. After analyzing the obtained information, it was found that these ten people have three mental models about the elements of establishing e-tourism: the organization's strategy, creating value for Tourists, and tourism services market development. According to the findings, the first factor (mental model) explains 33.396% of the total variance, the second factor explains 19.658% of the total variance, and the third factor explains 14.749% of the total variance. Based on these results, it can be stated that 33.396% of people's mentality refers to the organization's strategy. Also, 19.658% of the existing views are dedicated to creating value for tourists, and 14.749% of people's mentality is dedicated to developing the tourism service market. In the following, the description of mental patterns of co-creation of e-tourism establishment, obtained as a result of Q-type exploratory factor analysis, is discussed.
The first factor is the organization's strategy, which is often considered policy-making by the government and governing bodies in the tourism industry. This group believes that environmental uncertainty, inflexibility at the industry level, weak leadership and executive processes, lack of support from senior managers, conflicting goals and priorities, and incorrect understanding of the organization's strategy at the industry level have an impact on e-tourism.
The second factor is creating value for tourists. Electronic tourism is a tool to realize information about tourist attractions, the possibility of providing services online, saving time and costs, providing the necessary arrangements for tourists to make easy decisions in choosing tourist destinations, and forming comprehensive information systems from institutions, services, and tourism routes.
The third factor is the development of the tourism services market. Market development is a small strategic plan designed to help companies introduce and transfer new products to the market, increase their existing market share, or expand the use of their current products to do new things. Without a market development strategy, attracting customers will be less effective.
Paying attention to the appropriate strategies and solutions for establishing electronic tourism in the coastal cities of Mazandaran province has led to the development of the tourism services market, where many sites get information about the places of interest in these cities. On the other hand, choosing a place to stay that suits the tourist's interests is one of the necessities of travel, which is vital for marketing products and services. The essential component of customer communication is the improvement of service delivery; through creating a platform for two-way and fast interaction, electronic tourism can quickly get customers' opinions. Moreover, creating value for tourists plays a significant role in developing the tourism services market. In order to operationalize and develop e-tourism, those involved in the policy field of e-tourism have included this issue in the context of development and have legislated in line with the design of persuasive packages as well as securing the tourism business environment. In addition, to create the will of the senior managers of this field, they should put training and culture building on the agenda.
This work was done with the support of Islamic Azad University, Chalous branch.
Authors Contribution
The authors contributed equally to the conceptualization and writing of the article. All of the authors approved the content of the manuscript and agreed on all aspects of the work.
Conflict of Interest
The Authors declared no conflict of interest.
The authors appreciate to all the scientific consultants of this paper.


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