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Although there is growing awareness of the relationship between hosting mega-sporting-events and destination image, there is little empirical evidence documenting what images people hold before an event. The purpose of this study was to investigate the images young Americans hold of China both as a tourist destination and as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games. Specifically, the relationships among destination image, travel intentions, and tourist characteristics were explored. A total of 350 college students were surveyed before the close of the Athens Olympic Games. Overall, the respondents perceived China and the Beijing Olympic Games positively. Destination image was significantly (p < .05) predictive of the intention to travel to China and the Olympic Games. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that destination image partially mediated the relationship between past international travel experience and intention to travel. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed with a view to promoting China as a tourist destination and the host of the Olympic Games.
Gibson, Qi, and Zhang are with the Department of Tourism, Recreation, and Sport Management, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-8208.