Abstract

Tourism-driven coastal economies are susceptible to physical damage inflicted by hurricanes and non-physical damage from a negatively altered destination image. While few studies interrogate the role of destination image in tourism recovery after a natural disaster, those that do treat destination image in isolation from other social and economic parameters known to influence recovery. To address this shortcoming, this study uses mixed methods to investigate how destination image, working in tandem with the social vulnerability of local residents, local economic dependence on tourism, and pre-storm destination popularity, may alter the economic pattern of tourism development in U.S. Southeastern coastal counties recovering from hurricane strikes. Findings show that patterns of economic recovery do not conform to standard patterns of physical damage along the hurricane track. They also underscore the importance of economic diversity and a positive destination image in fostering a rapid tourism sector recovery after hurricanes.

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