The objective of developing a geographical area is, first and foremost, the effective operation, the provision of an appropriate place to live and the well-being of its inhabitants, through the creation of appropriate economic, cultural, technological and ecological conditions. According to Ritchie-Crouch (2003), a tourism destination is competitive, if it has the capability for increasing tourism revenues, attracting tourists continuously, providing visitors with memorable experiences that meet their expectations, and furthermore, for profit generation. At the same time, however, the well-being of the local population must be maintained or increased by the preservation of resources for the future generations (i.e. keeping principles of sustainable development).
The dynamic growth in tourism demand is also leading to increased competition between destinations. Intense competition also poses a challenge for the tourism marketing organization in the target area in terms of image building, product development and communication. However, the successful development of tourism can only be achieved through a well-functioning, well-cooperating system. Cooperation is needed both at regional and tourism product level.
Although the slogan of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County as a tourism brand, the “Heart of the Great Plain” meets all the requirements for mottos, the recognition by travellers must be validated with market survey. A large sample (n = 1037) survey was conducted among domestic tourists visiting the destination in summer 2019. 71.6% of the respondents identify the county well by the brand “Heart of the Great Plain”, and the proportion of bad answers was trifling.
In addition to the recognition of the tourism brand, the research also covered the assessment of the county’s various tourism attractions. Twenty-nine tourism attractions were evaluated by the respondents as to whether they were visited or known. Based on the survey results, the well-known supply elements are Lake Tisza, Abádszalók, Jászberény Zoo and Botanical Garden, Cserkeszőlő, the spa resort, Tiszavirág Festival and RepTár, Interactive Aviation Museum in Szolnok. Although the awareness of county tourism attractions is considered favourable, twelve attractions had not been visited by 10% of non-county respondents until the date of surveying, and at least one quarter of respondents in each attraction were negative for a possible future visit.
The conclusions of the research point out that by exploiting and developing the existing attractions in the destination, tourism innovation is needed to provide complex experience packages to reach a wide range of tourist segments. This can lead to a significant increase in the number of visitors.
Keywords: tourism destination, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County, brand
JEL: Z32 Tourism and Development