Perceptions of Kazakhstan as a Tourist Destination
As brand is defined as perceptions or associations in the consumer's mind, as such it can vary across people and countries alike. The purpose of this study is to explore perceptions of foreign tourists about Kazakhstan as a prospective tourist destination. The study seeks to capture major attributes of the common image of this country in Europe. It relies on the qualitative techniques, namely word associations and collage method accompanied by interviews, which were used to examine people's views and opinions about Kazakhstan as a tourist destination. The respective data produced by these techniques were combined into Echtner and Ritchie's framework used as a guiding model to interpret those data. The findings demonstrate a lack of public awareness about Kazakhstan as a country with its distinct identity. In fact, they reveal a still dominant image of Kazakhstan depicted with the three major attributes: the fictitious Hollywood movie character Borat, nature and tradition. Thus, the study highlights a deplorable knowledge gap on the part of the world at large about Kazakhstan and, therefore, underscores the importance of a more concerted and positive brand-building of the country as a tourist destination.