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Communicating regional identity

Gammack, J., Goulding, P. and Seow, H.H. (2002) Communicating regional identity. In: Third international conference on cultural attitudes towards technology and communication, 12 - 15 July, Montreal, Canada pp. 237-258.

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Public websites provide a globally perceptible articulation of a particular corporate or institutional image. When websites are effectively representing nations or quasi-national entities however, they imply functions beyond simple marketing presence and commercial activity. They rather reflect images of how an autonomous country or region wishes to present or brand itself as a geo-political destination, offering clues to its self-identity, its distinguishing attractions, and its core cultural values. In addition, any such singular presentation must address the manifold expectations of potential site users, who have different backgrounds and needs. Tourism, the world's largest industry, is at the forefront of articulating the identificatory and iconic values of a region, and straddles the commercial and governmental spheres in representing and communicating these values. Governmental priorities and commercial imperatives imply that these spheres are not necessarily co-extensive, and are impacted by the regional structure of the industry, external perceptions of the destination and the effectiveness of branding strategies. These become critical issues when the website is an official portal, the point of first impression that brands a region, displaying its communicative practices and implying value commitments that attract and inform visitors or otherwise. In this paper we detail a case study of particular interest, the official Hong Kong Tourist Board site, and, using a two-stage questionnaire, investigate its perception from within one of its major regional neighbours and source markets for inbound visits, Australia. Issues concerning gender effects, along with the effectiveness of branding iconography, and information communication are examined. Several directions for further research are suggested.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Information Technology
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