Within destination marketing activities, in recent years substantial efforts have been directed towards accurately assessing the ideas, or perceptions, travelers hold about a tourist destination, in terms of destination image measurement. This, in particular when dealing with long-haul tourist markets, where geographical and cultural distance makes harder for DMO marketers to convey the specific identity of a place, highlighting those aspects that distinguish the destination from its competitors. The goal of this study is to identify and qualify the main features that define Italy’s destination image in the Russian outbound leisure travel market. To this end, new insights on the Echtner and Ritchie model are suggested, by introducing a fourth continuum (Encouraging vs. Discouraging) where more emphasis is paid on the role of distance and travel constraints in experiencing the tourist product. Findings highlight that overall Russian outbound tourists’ perceptions of Italy are of relax, warmness, happiness, enjoyment and fun, especially connected to food, culture and fashion.
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