Purpose – Emphasizing the role of residents as destination advocates, this study investigates the influence of residents’ familiarity with, and, favorability of attractions on destination image. Design/methodology/approach – A mixed methods research strategy was employed using fifteen individual in-depth interviews and a survey questionnaire with a sample of N=364. The study utilizes an attraction familiarity index to classify respondents into four groups based on high, average, and low familiarity and examines the characteristics of each in the relationship between informational familiarity, experiential familiarity, and favorability and destination image. Findings – The study reveals resident perceptions of attractions within the tourism product assembly framework and illustrates the positive relationship between the residents’ level of familiarity with, and favorability of visitor attractions and destination image. Further, the findings also demonstrate the significant role of demographic characteristics such as gender and length of residency in the area. The study findings suggest that temporary residents can function as destination advocates. Research limitations/implications – Employees and students from a prominent northeastern university were sampled, representing local residents and temporary residents respectively. While appropriate and fairly representative of the target market for the research questions in this investigation, more work is required to replicate this study utilizing representative samples across different locations. Practical implications – Evidence from our study indicates the importance of marketing to residents as they serve as destination advocates. In particular, the residents’ familiarity with and favorability of attractions is critical to positive destination image. The research offers insights into the identification of potential segments of residents that require special attention. Originality/value – Limited existing research investigates the role of residents as destination advocates, especially in the context of destinations that lack a primary tourism attraction but have a well-balanced mix of attractions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Publication Date

Spring 3-12-2019


This author accepted manuscript is deposited under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC) licence. This means that anyone may distribute, adapt, and build upon the work for non-commercial purposes, subject to full attribution. If you wish to use this manuscript for commercial purposes, please contact permissions@emerald.com

Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Hospitality and Tourism Management (SCB)


RIT – Main Campus