The subject of the thesis is an exploratory research on the impact that sustainability has on a tourism destination brand equity. As increasing development of tourism destinations around the globe becomes a significant source of wealth, prosperity, cultural exchange, innovation, human interactions and activities, there is a growing interest to use modern marketing and branding strategies, traditionally used in businesses. However, at the same time there is a growing concern how to balance the increasing demand for tourism resources with the limited carrying capacity of the environment and host population. Moreover, the literature on the tourism destination brand development shows deficiency in understanding the multifaceted and multidimensional relationships between the tourism destination brand development and the elements of destination sustainability.
In that regard, this thesis addresses the existing gap in tourism literature by introducing a model that highlights impact of the elements of destination sustainability: economic, social and environmental on the elements of destination brand equity awareness, image, quality and loyalty.
Tourism destination brand equity and destination sustainability are well-studied themes by the research community. To better understand these two seemingly different concepts this thesis proposes a possible single common model that can serve as a platform for analyzing the relationships between the concepts. Since destinations cannot be placed or sold on the market, the value of the destination brand equity must be tied to the proxy indicators. The universality of the model is empirically confirmed by the global cross-national and multi-country indexes from (N=124) countries, obtained from nineteen global databases. The robustness of the model is further tested using the empirical survey data (N=368) from a case of Serbia
The results of the multivariate analysis show that social and environmental elements are the most dominant in a sustainable destination brand equity development, suggesting an area of focus for investors and developers. Also, the results show that the social part has a significant impact on the brand equity dimensions as well as on the other elements of destination sustainability.
The major goal of the thesis is to explore a) relationships between the elements of tourism destination sustainable development effort and the elements of the destination brand equity, b) impact that the elements of sustainability have on the elements of destination brand equity and c) specific outcomes because of the interaction of the elements.
Therefore, based on the findings, the thesis suggests that both sustainability and destination brand equity developments are tied together and should be done in parallel as one common process in the long run. Moreover, the strong impact of the social sustainability element on all aspects of the brand equity development confirms the influence of sustainability on the tourism destination development. Hence, the proposed model provides destination developers and authorities with a tool for evaluating, analyzing and implementing comprehensive destination development strategies that will fulfill destination promise and, at the same time, preserve resources and enhance the local way of living.
Ključne reči: tourism destination brand equity; sustainable development; Serbia; multivariate analysis; impact of sustainability on brand equity.