keywords: Destination, perception, Plateau State, projection, tourism
Presumably, Plateau State has had a battered and distorted tourism destination image due to intermittent ethnoreligious conflicts since the year 2001. However, presumption is neither, a good building block nor a good cornerstone. Hence, the researchers became interested in the certainty of measuring the actual tourism destination image as perceived by tourists found in the State (in situ tourists’ perception). Measuring the actual perceived tourism destination image of a place can provide a very important and a surer diagnostic insight for marketing strategy, planning, development and promotion of the tourism industry of a destination. The specific goal of this study was to determine the actual perceived tourism destination image of Plateau State over different time outlines (peace profiles). The study was undertaken at nine purposively sampled tourist sites in the State in which 1,023 tourists were sampled and interviewed. The study established that peace, safety and security are pre-requisite (sine quinoa) for a positive destination image perception. The study also confirmed that though Plateau State is very rich in tourist attractions, which if adequately planned, developed, promoted and managed, will make her one of the leading tourist destinations in Nigeria her tourism image has however, oscillated between positive when the state enjoyed peace, safety and security, to negative image, during and shortly after a cycle of violent ethno religious conflict that befalls the State. Findings of this study strongly confirmed that image perception is a reciprocal of image projection. Thus to achieve a good, attractive and sustainable tourism destination image of Plateau State, the researchers recommended religious, political and ethnic tolerance and understanding, provision of regular and adequate security machinery for a sustainable peace enthronement, good governance, decent tourism planning, development, management and promotion, as well as objective news reportage about incidences in Plateau State.
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