Perception in Architecture Measuring European Tourists’ Perception towards Isfahan’s Iranian-Islamic Architectur

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Abstract

There is always a meaning concealed behind functional aspects of any physical structure. This covert meaning is tranfered to the user or observer of the phenomena and forms his perception. Studying the perception of the visitors towards the visited structure is considered useful in several research fields. In tourism context, visitors’ perception towards visited destination is obliged as a significant guideline for tourism planners and marketers. It determines tourists’ preferences. It influences their behavior during all trip stages from pre-travel steps to post-travel ones. In a more holistic view, tourists’ perceptions toward the destination which is called tourist destination image not only is a pull factor for choosing the destination and purchasing the trip but also during the travel time it effects on tourists’ satisfaction level. After returning home the same image has evident impacts on remembering the trip memories and finally it might cause the first visitors to revisit the site once again. The concept has been defined as the expression of all objective knowledge, impressions, prejudice, imaginations, emotion and thoughts an individual or group might have of a particular place. In this context, destination’s built environment, architecture, buildings and monuments which are one of the main cultural attractions of any place, could make up tourist destination image. This study, examines the relationship between Iranian-Islamic architecture and post-visitors European’s image towards destination Iran. To narrow down, the research has been focused on Safavid buildings of Isfahan, a well-known Iran’s tourist destination. We are going to measure distinct aspects of the image via a model proposed by Echtner and Ritchie in 1993. This model not only conceptualizes but also provides a proper outline for measuring the image concept in a full structured way. Thus, this model compared to other pertinent presented outlines is more integrated and consequently conveys more applicable results. To assess the visitors’ perception on visited buildings, the study consists of two main phases: determining experts’ points of view and tourists’ perceptions. Sample size of the first phase survey is fifteen and it asks for academians in the field of Islamic architecture towards remarkable features of Safavid monuments. This phase is completely picture-based. Respondents shall rank the 100 taken pictures of related scenes in terms of the degree of beauty. The second phase includes both open-ended and close-ended questions as well as 12 selected pictures from the last phase. The results of the study indicate that Iranian- Islamic architecture has a noticeable effect on European tourists’ image. According to the findings, Naghsh-e –Jahan Square and Sheik Lotfollah Mosque are the most conspicuous and memorable places in European’s functional perception. Responses show that most of the repliers have expressed their affective image about Iranian-Islamic architecture by the words referring to wonder, admiration and spirituality. They assumed “space” and “use of geometry” as the most noteworthy physical components in this architecture style. Findings demonstrates that Iranian-Islamic Architecture, in general can be regarded as one the main elements of image creating and brand building for destination Iran in tourism marketing strategies.

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