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Ahmad El Zein

DBA Graduate - 2013

Thesis title

Does Customer Education Improve Destination Image and Intention to Visit Risky Country: an Application to Tourism in Lebanon


Benoit Aubert

Dr. Ahmad El Zein received a doctorate from Grenoble Ecole de Management and is now the director of the MSc in International Hospitality and Tourism Management and an assistant professor. Dr. EL Zein has published a book on leadership and other books in different management fields. He has also organized many international and local conferences and symposiums.

International tourism has become one of the largest and most important economic sectors of the global economy driving a vast flow of people, commodities, and capital. It literally operates on the leading edge of globalization as it continually transfers consumer tastes, cultural practices, business people, and capital into new spaces across the globe (Hazbun, 2003). The tourist flow to various countries serves as an indicator through which we can foresee a process of cultural assimilation and economic development in destination countries. Despite the importance of this industry it is still, unquestionably, one of the most vulnerable and defenceless industries prone to disaster. It is a fragile industry where safety and security are important aspects of travel destination and consumer decision making (Hall, 2003; Sonmez, Apostolopoulous and Tarlow, 1999). The intangibility‘‘ and inseparability‘‘ factors in the tourism industry limit the information availability to consumers (Hsu and Lin, 2006), which make it impossible to eliminate the risk (Wong and Yeh, 2009) of political instability, terrorism, natural disasters and much more Image is one of the most significant factors of the prosperity of any destination and a key element when choosing a destination (Gartner, 1993). The image of a destination can be formed by a diversity of direct and indirect influencing characteristics. The aim of this thesis, consequently, is to examine the image of Lebanon as a tourist destination, and elaborate on the effect of customer education on enhancing tourist intention to visit a country that is known to be politically unstable. A literature review of related and relevant studies has shown that only a small number of studies focus on tourism in Lebanon (Issa and Altinay, 2006; Ladki and Dah, 1997). Lebanon‘s unstable political environment and the geopolitical situation of the Middle East, of which Lebanon is part, are the main challenges of the Lebanese tourism organizations and government in advertising tourism abroad. A very effective mean of customer education is through media. The task that the media is influencing in the different parts of life is becoming gradually greater every day, especially in spheres like social interaction, cultural and educational aspects of our daily life. When speaking of tourism policy that focuses on specific areas of tourism, the media become a mediator between tourism and society, which implies that they mediate in a process of conveying tourism products from the producers to the consumers. Media practitioners in any capacity are accountable for the formation of these mental pictures. It is suitable to observe and state that dependency on information has increased substantially to the satellite communication power in making, manipulating, and deforming different images and perceptions in the minds of potential tourists.