News media are influential and capable of changing an area’s image dramatically in a short period of time. However, the role of media discourses on the image formation process of countries and destinations has not been investigated intensively in the past. The Arab Spring and other political upheaval have caused Tunisia to go from a period where there was little reported about the country to a situation with intensive news media coverage. This shift in media coverage could have had a damaging effect on the image of Tunisia. The aim of this thesis is to identify the Product-Country Image (PCI) and Tourism Destination Image (TDI) sketched of Tunisia within Dutch newspapers. In addition, it wants to investigate how language use and media techniques of the newspapers have played a role in this image formation process. For the purpose, articles from two major Dutch newspapers – De Volkskrant and De Telegraaf – in a period from January 2009 and April 2015 are analyzed by content analysis and critical discourse analysis. The results have shown that it is mainly the Product-Country-Image and not the Tourism Destination Image that is discussed intensively in the newspaper articles. The political stability and safety are the attributes that are damaged the most throughout the analyzed period, while little attention was given to natural environment attributes such as the scenery, climate or the attractions within Tunisia. The results have also shown that language use and media techniques have influenced the projected image.
Author: A. van Halder (2015)