Andrej Kóňa in this interview gives us intriguing insights into Slovakia - a country which, as destination, is best known internationally for its capital city, Bratislava. Less favorable, Slovakia recently made headlines for the murder of a journalist. Whether and how such events impact a country's reputation and brand is one of the topics Andrej discusses in the interview.
- The relevance of a place's reputation for tourism;
- Destination marketing practices and trends in Slovakia;
- Difference between destination marketing and branding;
- Bratislava destination challenges and how the city can overcome them;
- How public diplomacy influences country reputation and image;
Andrej, for your doctoral studies you looked at the links between place reputation and inbound tourism - how do the two influence each other?
Reputation is linked to everything. My father always says: “you build your reputation over a long period, but you may lose it in a second”.
In one of his books, Simon Anholt illustrated the power of reputation by asking his readers if they would expect a Japanese or a Chinese DVD player to be more expensive. Reputation is related to everything and humankind has been working with it for ages.
When massive protests were launched in Slovakia because of the murder of a journalist, I recalled two similar cases. I looked at them in more detail and, using statistic indicators, I examined whether foreign media commentaries on the political situation of a country would be from a short-term or long-term perspective, and how fast the behaviour of foreign tourists would change. The data clearly showed a link.
In such cases, I would call on ministries of foreign affairs and state representatives to work more actively with foreign media during such events, via their communication departments. I don't think that this is being done sufficiently, or that all parties involved have a clear idea about the country's reputation - or the impact of such events on country reputation.
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