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Perceived and projected authenticity of visitor attractions as signs: A Peircean semiotic analysis

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Pavlos Paraskevaidis & Adi Weidenfeld

This study aims to examine the perceived authenticity of foreign tourists in comparison to the online projected authenticity of an iconic visitor attraction, by adopting a Peircean semiotic approach. Peircean types of signs namely iconic, indexical and symbolic are used to identify perceived and projected authenticity and related cultural meanings of the White Tower of Thessaloniki, Greece. A twofold qualitative research method was adopted by comparing content analysis of on-site interviews of 19 foreign tourists with semiotic analysis of three official websites promoting the attraction.

Study findings suggest that both tourists and official destination promoters recognize iconic and indexical authenticity and that different historical approaches to the attraction influence its cultural meanings. Findings reveal that projected authenticity in relation to Peircean signs is iconic and indexical as promoted by the destination marketers. The comparison of perceived and projected authenticity can help practitioners design and/or improve existing marketing content for campaigns. The consideration of
perceived authenticity as the ‘consumption’ of authenticity and projected authenticity as its ‘production’ opens up new horizons in tourism research.

P. Paraskevaidis, (A. Weidenfeld). Journal of Destination Marketing & Management. journal homepage: Received 29 June 2020; Received in revised form 4 November 2020; Accepted 4 November 2020

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