Experiential Marketing, Destination Image, and Tourists’ Destination Loyalty (Reference to Tourists’ Cultural Destinations in Sri Lanka)
Today, tourism has become a growing industry to develop the world economy. Among varied destinations, cultural destinations are more popular in the world. Among the South Asian countries, Sri Lanka (SL) is a popular tourists’ destination as it has promoted its 2000 year aged history and eight world heritage sites to attract more tourists. As a reason, the 'number of tourists visited Sri Lanka' has increased by year by year. However, the recent statistics released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, have proved that tourists’ growth rate was gradually decreased to 3.5% from 43% since 2010. Meanwhile, All the cultural places in Sri Lanka have visited around 0.2 million tourists except Pollonnaruwa and Sigiriya, these two places have visited by 0.8 million tourists. Another thing is all the museums have visited by very few tourists (around 14000) except the national museum. Therefore, based on this least attraction, this research addresses the effect of experiential marketing to upgrade tourists’ destination’s loyalty through the mediating effect of the destination image. Independent variable of the study was 'experiential marketing' and the dependent variable was 'destination loyalty'. The population of the study has represented by all tourists who have visited cultural areas in the year 2019. 600 tourists have selected as the sample through the convenient sampling technique. Valid and reliable research questionnaire has used to collect data. Data analyzed through the AMOS software, where all the research questions and objectives have achieved. Findings proved that experiential marketing has significantly and positively affected destination loyalty and destination image without the mediating effect of the destination image. Therefore, researchers have suggested suitable strategies to develop cultural areas with more exciting events and activities with greater hospitality to attract and keep more tourists, being obeying to five factors of experiential marketing such as tourists’ sense, feel, think, act and relate.
Keywords: Experiential Marketing, Destination Loyalty, Destination Image, Cultural Destination, Tourism