The perceived destination image of Indonesia: An assessment on travel blogs written by the industry’s top markets
The tourist gaze theory suggests that tourists are taught by the destination marketing organisation to know how, when, and where to look. However, the birth of travel blogs has challenged this image as they offer the public “unfiltered” information. Travel bloggers have become more powerful in influencing the decision making of potential tourists. This study employs textual and photographic content analysis to investigate the destination image of Indonesia held by the industry’s key markets; Singapore and Australia. 106 blog entries and over 1,500 pictures were content analysed, and the results suggest that overall tourists tended to have positive images of Indonesia. International tourists are still very much concentrated in the traditionally popular places such as Bali and Jakarta. Negative images of Indonesia include inadequate infrastructure, ineffective wildlife protection, and westernisation of Bali. Natural and cultural resources are proven in this thesis to be Indonesia’s top tourism products. Influenced by their cultural backgrounds, Singaporean and Australian bloggers have demonstrated a dissimilar tourist gaze. The current study also analysed the bloggers’ image of Indonesia as opposed to the image projected by the government through the national tourism brand “Wonderful Indonesia”. The results indicate a narrow gap between the two images. Implications for Indonesian tourism practitioners include stronger law enforcement to preserve local culture and natural attractions, and recognising the market’s preference to promote other destinations. Recommendations for future research are discussed.