Role of Brand Perceptions and Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy on Place Brand Equity in Western Kenya Tourism Circuit
Ndubi, Edgar Otsembo
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Many destinations have open up to and invested in the tourism industry leading to heightened competition between them. This has brought to fore the concept of place brand equity, where destinations seek to highlight their value to not only visitors, but also residents and investors. Tourism destinations have therefore developed strategies to enhance their brands. In Kenya, the National Tourism Blueprint 2030 recognizes that the tourism industry plays an important role in Kenya‟s economy. It also acknowledges that various tourism circuits in Kenya are at different levels of tourism development, which is attributed to each circuit‟s place brand equity. The purpose of this study therefore, was to examine the role of brand perceptions and entrepreneurial self-efficacy in influencing place brand equity in the WKTC. The study was guided by the four specific objectives:- to determine the influence of tourism entrepreneurs‟ brand perceptions on place brand equity; to evaluate the relationship of customers brand perceptions on place brand equity; to explore the influence of entrepreneurial self-efficacy on place brand equity and to investigate the moderating effect of the industry context on the relationship between entrepreneurial-self efficacy and place brand equity. The study employed a cross sectional descriptive survey design, using a mixed methods approach. Secondary sources, questionnaires and interview schedules were to collect data. The study‟s sample size was 316 managers of various tourism enterprises, and 309 customers to tourism enterprises in the four Counties Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii and Busia in the WKTC. Ten (10) interviews were held with key tourism public sector officials and industry stakeholders. The overall response rate was 79.75% and was deemed to be appropriate for the study. Data collected was analyzed in SPSS 21, using descriptive statistics to infer variable characteristics. Pearson correlation was used to infer pattern of relationship between the variables used in the study while regression analysis was used to determine significant variable predictors and test hypothesis. Directed content analysis using NVivo 12, was used to analyze qualitative data. The results of the Pearson correlation coefficient analysis r=0.588, p=0.000, adjusted R2=0.343 showed that 34.3% variation in place brand equity can be explained by customer brand perceptions with the most significant predictors being brand awareness and brand loyalty. The regression analysis coefficient R=0.842 and adjusted R2=0.706 showed that 70.6% of variation in place brand equity can be explained by tourism entrepreneur brand perceptions, entrepreneurial self-efficacy and the moderating effect of industry context. The findings of the study show that tourism entrepreneurs brand perceptions; customers brand perceptions; entrepreneurial self-efficacy and the moderating effect of industry context, statistically significantly influence place brand equity in the WKTC. Industry context on its own did not statistically significantly influence place brand equity in the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit. The study also identified 14 predictor variables with the most significant (p=≤0.000≤0.05) contribution to the model. These predictor variables could be used by destination stakeholders in managing the WKTC‟s place brand equity based on the impact (coefficient) of each of them and the prevailing circumstances. The study recommends that the WKTC County Governments and the national government spearhead development and management of the WKTC destination brand. This will enhance awareness about WKTC and improve loyalty to the destination. Tourism entrepreneurs in the region also need to take advantage of the numerous resources such Lake Victoria and cultural heritage that abound in the region in order to enhance the WKTC brand. The study suggests further research on place brand equity in other tourism circuits.