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Positioning as a source of competitive advantage: benchmarking Rotorua's position as a domestic short break holiday destination

Travellers are spoilt by holiday choice, and yet will usually only seriously consider a few destinations during the decision process. With thousands of destination marketing organisations (DMOs) competing for attention, places are becoming increasingly substitutable. The study of destination competitiveness is an emerging field, and thesis contributes to an enhanced understanding by addressing three topics that have received relatively little attention in the tourism literature: destination positioning, the context of short break holidays, and domestic travel in New Zealand. A descriptive model of positioning as a source of competitive advantage is developed, and tested through 12 propositions. The destination of interest is Rotorua, which was arguably New Zealand’s first tourist destination. The market of interest is Auckland, which is Rotorua’s largest visitor market. Rotorua’s history is explored to identify factors that may have contributed to the destination’s current image in the Auckland market. A mix of qualitative and quantitative procedures is then utilised to determine Rotorua’s position, relative to a competing set of destinations. Based on an applied research problem, the thesis attempts to bridge the gap between academia and industry by providing useable results and benchmarks for five regional tourism organisations (RTOs). It is proposed that, in New Zealand, the domestic short break market represents a valuable opportunity not explicitly targeted by the competitive set of destinations. Conceptually, the thesis demonstrates the importance of analysing a destination’s competitive position, from the demand perspective, in a travel context; and then the value of comparing this ‘ideal’ position with that projected by the RTO. The thesis concludes Rotorua’s market position in the Auckland short break segment represents a source of comparative advantage, but is not congruent with the current promotional theme, which is being used in all markets. The findings also have implications for destinations beyond the context of the thesis. In particular, a new definition for ‘destination attractiveness’ is proposed, which warrants consideration in the design of future destination positioning analyses.
Type of thesis
Pike, S. (2002). Positioning as a source of competitive advantage: benchmarking Rotorua’s position as a domestic short break holiday destination (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14094
The University of Waikato
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