In today's globalized world, we are confronted by the widespread expansion of mass tourist activities which have heavy impacts on the most sought-after destinations and the societies that contain them. The purpose of marketing in tourist destinations takes the specific forms of, primarily, marketing places and, secondly, applying the other skills of professionals in tourism marketing.
Tourism marketing identifies the tourists' destinations as "places'" in which individuals, as tourists, realize their expectations and enjoy their leisure experiences. This approach implies that the tourist destination is the place where tourist activities happen, though tourist destinations are not necessarily geographical "places"", nor are the geographical places primordially "tourist destinations"" (D'Orey, 2014).
Two complementary perspectives can be found in tourism marketing: the marketing of places and the marketing of destination. The first aims at the development of the brand, the creation of wealth, the sustainability and competitiveness of the regions or localities (i.e. places) (Anholt, 2006; Dhamija et al., 2011; Muniz-Martinez, 2012; Rizzi & Dioli, 2010; Smith, 2015). In the second, the focus is broader and falls on infrastructures and the capacities of the destinations to welcome the tourist activity, a socio-economic vision of the places (Pike, 2015; Wang & Pizam, 2011; Witt & Moutinho, 1994).
In the last resort, the function of tourism marketing is to transform a certain place into a pole of tourist attraction, with the development of products and specific services at the same time, which confers on that tourist offer psychological properties of the place itself. But, naturally, tourist destinations do not possess the psychological properties of the places (Devine-Wright & Clayton, 2010; Smith, 2015; Counted, 2016; Acedo et al., 2017).
For tourism marketing to shelter this complementary double function of transforming a geographical locality into a tourist destination, it is necessary to understand the relationship between people and places. One way to explain this relationship is to take account of the phenomenon of "Sense of Place'", or, in other words, the psychological perceptions emerging from the expectations and experiences of the individuals in their tourism leisure activity (Campelo et al., 2013; Roult et al., 2016; Clarke et al., 2018, Poljanec-Boric et al., 2018; Jarratt et al., 2018; Tan et al., 2018; Azizi, 2018)
On this point it makes sense to ask how this "Sense of Place" (Smith, 2015) is developed in individuals and what its effect is on the profile of tourists. For this purpose, this article draws on the construction of tourist places (D'Orey, 2014:2015, Poljanec-Boric et al., 2018) and outlines the most significant socio-demographic profile of the non-resident tourists, considering their overall perception of the "Sense of Place".
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
When reflecting on "Tourist Destinations"", we are led to consider the existence of the concept of 'Place", where the tourists' lived experiences happen and their activities produce effects. This relationship between individuals and places leads us to interpret it as the behaviour and attitudes of tourists in relation to the places they visit. In fact, various studies suggest that the "Sense of Place" is a holistic dimension that best explains the relationship between people and places (Campelo et al., 2013; Lin & Lockwood, 2014; Counted, 2016; Smith, 2015; Roult et al., 2016; Clarke et al., 2018; Acedo et al., 2017; Poljanec- Boric et al., 2018; Jarratt et al., 2018; Tan et al., 2018; Azizi, 2018).
The origin of the concept of "Sense of Place" goes back to the 1970s, in the field of human geography, particularly in the fruitful work of Yi-Fu Tuan (1974, 1977, and 1979). For Tuan, "Place" is a symbiotic relationship between "space" and the "meanings"" for individuals. It is as if we were dealing with dialectic in which human experience in "spaces"" is reproduced "in the basic components of the living world" (Tuan, 1977). In other words, the human being understands his or her environment through experiences in interaction with places.
This interaction is full of defined "meanings", by the nature and culture of the spaces, whether individually or by both simultaneously, and interpreted by human experiences, their relationships, emotions and thoughts (Stedman et al., 2004). In an integrated way, Richard Stedman (2003) suggests that the "Sense of Place" comes from four fundamental elements of individual experience with places: the characteristics of the environment; the interactions and behaviour of the individuals in relation to their surroundings; the meanings as social construction of experience with the attributes of the physical spaces; and perceptions as affection, satisfaction or identity in relation to the surrounding spaces.
The Sense of Place can be the vehicle for the comprehension of the attitudes of individuals concerning their environment (Smith, 2015; Azizi, 2018). In it are to be found functional and cognitive components that mould the perceptions, beliefs, values and commitments of individuals (Larson et al., 2013; Lin & Lockwood, 2014), that make the Sense of Place a privileged area for analysing the behaviour of tourists and travelers (Deutsch et al., 2013; Azizi, 2018; Poljanec-Boric et al., 2018).
Behaviour arises from the specific experiences of individuals, independently of the size of the places they visit, whether town, region or even a whole country. And they reproduce positive feelings, such as well-being and safety, or negative feelings, such as fear or placelessness. These emotional connections that structure the Sense of Place amount to a description of the unique characteristics of the places (Foote & Azaryahu, 2009; Jarratt et al., 2018).
The more physical elements, the activities and the meanings of the places are interlaced in the daily experiences of individuals in a unique symbiosis that distinguishes each tourist destination from the many others (Shamsuddin & Ujang, 2008; Azizi, 2018; Tan et al., 2018). It may be affirmed that the Sense of Place is a multidimensional construction that represents beliefs, emotions and understandings with a definite location that translates into the identity of that place (Jorgensen & Stedman, 2006).
The Sense of Place aggregates in itself a multidimensional and complex perception in which each place transmits to the individuals' specific values and symbols. Various studies point to the Sense of Place as a complex concept associated with the emotions and behaviour of individuals in relation to the places which can be interpreted in terms of levels of perception (Kaltenborn, 1998; Relph, 1976; Shamai, 1991; Shamai & Ilatov, 2005; Campelo et al., 2013; Azizi, 2018; Tan et al., 2018).
Shamai (1991) classifies the relationship of individuals with a place on a scale of increasing intensity, from absence of sense of place to sacrifice for the place. In his methodology, the author utilizes a qualitative approach based on questionnaires put to students of a religious school in the Province de Ontario, Canada. Kaltenborn (1998) takes up Shamai's scale, structuring it on three levels of intensity: "Belonging to a Place'"; "Affection for a Place""; "Commitment to a Place""; and "Identification with a Place"".
The sense of belonging to a place arises when the individuals have a continuing relationship of positive thoughts about a certain place (Vorkinn & Riese, 2001). Chang (1997) mentions that 'Belonging to a Place" depends on the different values and intentions of individuals in respect to those places. The author goes along with Relph (1976), who suggests that tourists can demonstrate some degree of introspection and of exteriority, which is an ambiguous sense of belonging to the place.
Affection for a place involves emotions, beliefs, values and symbols that individuals or groups possess in relation to a locality. George & George (2012) observe that affection for a place is a determining factor in the construction of fidelity to destinations, suggesting two dimensions of affect: one more functional (i.e. dependency on the place) and the other of a more emotional character (i.e. identity of the place). Both provide explanations for the fidelity of tourists to a place.
Yuksel et al. (2010), refer to the role of affection for a place in the construction of future satisfaction and behaviour. They state that tourists develop certain affection for a place as a result of its ability to reach specific objectives or provide suitable activities in the locations visited. The authors suggest that affection for the place is a determining factor for prediction of intentions and behaviour showing fidelity to a destination.
Commitment to a place is positioned on Shamai's (1991) scale on the point of 'sacrifice for the place'; that is, at the extreme of the relationship of the...