The Impact of the Refugee Crisis and Brand Co-creation by Residents on a Destination

Julia Deckert

Student thesis: Master thesis


This research aims to shed light on the impact of the current refugee crisis on the touristic image of the destination Munich. Moreover, the role of pro- and anti-refugee activities by residents on possible destination image changes is investigated. The crisis is a current problem, concerning many cities in Europe. The impact of it has been researched in various fields, but not in the tourism sector. Combined with an examination of the importance of local residents for destinations, this paper intends to gain a helpful evaluation of the current situation, and will discuss the impacts of the findings on the communication of the destination.
The research was conducted by means of an online mixed-method survey to test the developed conceptual framework and hypotheses. As the population, the Danish market was chosen, represented by 156 respondents, gathered by the self-selection sampling method. To create a layer of comparison, the method of priming was used. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of three different versions of the survey: version 1 being a neutral presentation of Munich without mentions of the crisis, version 2 covering pro-refugee activities undertaken by the locals, and version 3 focusing on anti-refugee locals and their activities, e.g. the movement PEGIDA. The different versions of the survey were assumed to have the same effect as media coverage would have.
The researcher tested the relation between positive and negative media coverage of Munich’s residents in the context of the refugee crisis, and the tourism image of the destination. Furthermore, the tune of the coverage was assumed to impact the key behavioural outcomes, namely Attitude, Purchase Intention, and WOM. Additionally, the researcher tested the mediation effect of the Perceived Image of Munich, as well as the moderation effect of Visitor’s Personality.
The research showed no effect on the Image and Key Behavioural Outcomes from coverage of positive activities by locals. Negative coverage influenced WOM and Purchase Intention, as well as the image. No mediation or moderation effect could be found. For destinations this means that local residents do play a major role in the image formation, but only have an impact when presented negatively. Positive activities do not lead to a more positive image of the destination.
Due to the lack of mediation and moderation effects, the author came to the conclusion that the sample was not adequate enough for the research, and results can therefore only be partly mirrored onto the Danish population and the case of Munich. More distinct results are assumed with a more diversified sample, which could be achieved by means of the stratified sampling method.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages160
SupervisorsSebastian Zenker