The International Federation for Information Technologies and Travel & Tourism (IFITT) is the leading worldwide community of researchers, academics and professionals, for the discussion, exchange and development of knowledge about the use and impact of new information and communication technologies (ICT) in the travel and tourism industry and experience.
The IFITT Thesis Excellence Award for a Doctoral Thesis has been delivered during the ENTER 2015 PhD Workshop held in Lugano, Switzerland, on February, 3rd during the 2015 ENTER Conference, that is the annual global event of the IFITT community. The conference offers a worldwide and unique forum for attendees from industry, academia, government, and other organizations to actively exchange, share, and challenge state-of-the-art research and industrial case studies on the application of information and communication technologies in travel and tourism.
The thesis was defended in December 2013 in the Rovira i Virgili University obtaining the highest grade as Excellent Cum Laude from an assessment committee chaired by Dr. Nigel Morgan from the University of Surrey and with Dr. Josep Fernández Cavia from the Pompeu Fabra University and Dr. Julie Wilson from the University of West of England and Rovira i Virgili University. Dr. Nacima Baron Yelles from the Université de Paris Est and Dr. Sheila Malone from the Lancaster University also took part of the assessment committee as international reporters and the thesis was awarded with the European Thesis label.
The thesis explores the online projected and perceived images of a destination assessing their correspondence and stressing the differential points of online image formation. For this purpose, online image sources (travel blogs and reviews and official tourism websites) are analyzed. The thesis shed light on the role of online user-generated content and user transmitted image in the destination image formation and dissemination processes. The thesis takes Catalonia as the place for empirical evidence. Several papers have been produced as outcomes of the thesis including articles published in journals such as the Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change and the Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing.
Dr. Estela Mariné is currently member of the Department of Geography research group in Territorial Analysis and Tourism Studies (GRATET) leaded by Prof. Dr. Salvador Anton Clavé at the Rovira i Virgili University and lecturer in Tourism at the University of Lleida.