RESIDENTS’ PERCEPTION AS KEY INPUT TO DESTINATION IMAGE FORMATION FOR RURAL TOURISM
Many rural communities in Sarawak, Malaysia rely upon and view rural tourism as an opportunity for them to generate income and gain positive benefits from the unprecedented growth in the tourism industry. With increasingly competitive global marketplace, it is very crucial for the rural communities to effectively position their destination or village based on a distinctive and appealing perception or image. Creation and management of brand image or destination image is one of the most important elements in the success of any organization or destination. This conceptual paper develops a model of destination image formation effectively for rural destination or village starting with evaluating cognitive and affective components of village image perceived by its own residents as its initial phase. Analyzing this desired image should be the key input for image formation, putting
importance on how the residents wants the village to be perceived by the visitors/tourists.
Unstructured methodology using projective techniques is suggested to obtain information from residents on traits common to their village and also to capture unique features or auras which can distinguish the actual image of the destination or village from others.