Visual Techniques of the Language of Tourism
These materials usually contain textual descriptions, pictures, maps, animation and video. Print advertisements include those in magazines, newspapers, tourism brochures and flyers. They are filled with textual descriptions, pictures, maps, lists of attractions, accommodations and restaurants. These elements, including design elements such as text font, page layout, and background colors, work together to create the overall image of the destination in the tourist’s mind. The predominant promotional form in destination marketing is the brochure.
The brochure reaches the most potential customers, so many think that the “physical value” of an attractive brochure can not be replaced by other forms of communication (Middleton 1990: 182). The most important purpose of the destination brochure is informing and promoting. It serves as a substitute for the destination until the moment of arrival in a tourist resort. The brochure should be easy to read and attractive. It contains not only a verbal message, but also pictures as a very strong means of communication. As the old saying goes, “seeing is believing”.
Images indeed play an important role in convincing people to visit a certain place. Acting as stimuli to the readers’ minds, images help build new prediction and reinforce the relevant existing predictions. The tourism discourse images are highly selective and mostly emphasize only the positive aspects. According to Crawshaw and Urry (1997, 198) report that the professional travel photographers they interviewed “generally agreed that their work involved selecting, shaping and structuring elements of the physical environment to reflect mental images”.
According to Crawshaw and Urry (1997,189), the essential consideration for photos which would sell to tourists and tourism clients are ‘viewpoints’, ‘pleasing subjects’, ‘the right conditions’ (e. g. good weather days) and ‘good lighting’. And this is all due to the promotional character of the tourism. Through amplifying the beauty and desirability of the scenery and stripping it of unfavorable circumstances (e. g. bad weather and low visibility), photos in travel brochures are often “romanticized”.
And as such they create a vision in the tourist’s mind and perspective of what pictures to take with their own cameras when they go to that destination. Will they be satisfied or not that is a question of time. An important aspect of visual discourse analysis is the reliability of the image, which is termed “modality” by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996, 160). They define the term as “the truth value or credibility of (linguistically realized) statements about the world”. Although the concept originates from linguistics, they argue that modality (i. . how reliable and true the images are) is equally important in visual communication. The higher the modality, the more reliable or true it is. Kress and van Leeuwen (1996, 161) point out that modality judgment is dependent on the viewers for whom the representation is primarily intended. So in the case of travel brochure, it’s the tourists’ perception (instead of the locals’) on which the modality judgment is based. So in the example brochure photos that I have taken, some photos show a clear blue sky and good weather.
Given that Istanbul (Turkey) is notorious for its high air quality and such a beautiful sky can often be seen, than we are not talking about “romanticized” photos, which are far from the truest visual representation of reality (“the one that comes closest to what one would see if one were on the spot in person to see it”, given that all other things being equal). There may also exist a mismatching between photos and text, or as Elgin (1993, 62, 72) puts it in a sociolinguistic context between the body language (i. e. hat we see) and spoken language (what we read), and this is related to credibility medium as to trust body language or verbal behavior. But, no matter what versus opinions exist, we can not deny the crucial importance of visual promotional material. And this is also emphasized by the fact that up to 75% of the brochure material is taken up by picture and where only 15% of people bother to read the body copy. These facts highlight the significance of visual messages. Now let us proceed with the visual techniques in their predominant form: 1. Color 2. Format 3. Visual cliche
All of them discussed through the destination chosen, that is Istanbul. 1. Color It is said that a picture is one thousand words. The distressing point is that, if you don’t pre-test the pictures you use in your brochure it can be the wrong one thousand words! In promotional literature pictures usually take up over twice as much space as verbal messages. The predominant colors are blue and white. The sea is always intensive azure, the sky bright blue and the sand white. There is the predominance of vivid and warm colors as to create the feeling of tranquility.
As we are going to see even in the brochures of the destination I have chosen there is little use of black and white photos and in the cases when is done it emphasizes the contrast of the image in the colored form and black and white form. The non-urban environment including landscapes and nature it is the green color that dominates. Multiple colors attract attention. Nevertheless, effective brochures can be designed in one ink color by using attractive paper, clean line art, and sharp black and white photos. Good photos and art will direct us to the message.
Short blocks of text related to the photos create a stronger message than contrasting images. There are not cases when it is written about the serene lake and then it is shown a picture of a stormy lake with whitecaps. Tour operators are aware of the power of colors and they exploit it to the maximum. The same happens with the Istanbul brochures as the pictures will clearly define what I have previously said. Here we have the image of Blue mosque contrasted in colors: the blue bright sky and the black and white version.
The blue see and the blue sky without any clouds at all. Turkey’s cultural, political and economical capital is a fusion of old and new; tradition versus modernism. It’s where the East meets the West, where the Bosphorus Straight splits Europe and Asia. One of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in Turkey, Dilek Yarimadasi National Park is located in the region of Kusadasi and Soke, in the province of Aydin. The park can be reached via the Kusadasi – Soke highway. As the weather was fantastic we took a motorbike from Selcuk and spent a great time in the park.
Glen Coe There were plenty of images displayed in the brochures, of what I have stated beforehand and it was easy to notice that different official sites of the ministry of tourism made little use of monochrome pictures and photos in their travel brochures. This explains the effectiveness of color photographs and the eye contact view with the tourist. 2. Format The second visual technique is that of format, which has to do with: a. Placement b. dimension c. shape d. content e. structure of the promotional material. . Placement of pictures and photos in relation to the text or spoken language vary. And in my case study there are presented all of the possible forms. But always to support what is to be shown. When the importance is to be given on the text than the text is highlighted and vice versa. To better illustrate lets see the page brochures. b. The dimension which falls under the format technique has to do with the size of the picture and the place it occupies in the brochure in relation to the text, which of the two wins primary importance.
That in our case it is the picture. In this case of page brochure there is equal proportion displayed between text (spoken language) and the photographs (body language). Here again the emphasis is placed on the picture but the text has a double effect, because it informs and saves space. c. Shape It is discussed and further reached to a conclusion according to Febas Borra (1978, 97) that among picture and photo shapes including rectangular, square, circular, oval and triangular , it is the rectangle that predominates followed by square in the second place.
Within this rectangular framework, there are two traditional subtypes: the Italian style photograph (with a longer horizontal side) mostly reserved for landscapes and the French style photograph (with a longer vertical side), that is retained for portraits, castle battlements, etc. Whereas the other configurations are very rarely used, and only seem to appear in specialized publications in order to achieve special effects. In the Istanbul brochures we can notice a number of circle and oval shape pictures to that extent that we don’t get surprised from their use.
And then of course the greatest number is occupied from the dominant shapes of rectangle and square. Cultural images are displayed through square and triangular French style shape. d. Content Dilley (1986: 60) finds that brochures allocate approximately 32 % of their space to landscapes, 36 % to culture and 16 % each to recreation and services. So as we see the greatest percentage is for history, art, and local people then comes the landscape of coasts, mountains, rural and urban scenes, where the little percentage is for entertainment, sports and hotel service.
Urbain(1993, 149-150) also adds the old imagery of railway lines and palm trees, followed by Febas Borra (1978) the visual register of what is old (ancient rocks, mountains, castles, churches and traditional folklore. In the Istanbul brochures dominates the importance of sights, beaches, culture, food, hotels, and traditional monuments, which are highly emphasized as attractions. This is clearly given by a collage format that features 15 pictures of attractions. Collage is a prominent feature found in the images in travel brochures.. ccording to Gold (1994, 22), it is “ perhaps the most distinctive feature of place promotional advertising”. Gold (1994, 22) points out that collage typically employs “3-6 photographs of the place concerned along with a portion of descriptive text; which stands for “ a visual summary of the different elements in the selling image”. The placing of several visual elements in one image often involves foregrounding of a certain element and overlapping of elements. The resulting images can hardly be seen as a true representation of reality. The prominent feature is due to dominant size. e. Structure
The information needs to be presented in an order consistent with the principles of AIDA A- Attention I- Interest D – Desire A – call to Action This is the sequence followed to motivate customers to actually make a purchase. First the interest of the customer must be secured with a front cover which gets the attention. From there further interest is generated by the supporting text and illustrations, design, etc. This then builds the desire for more information and lastly, the Call to Action when the customer makes a decision to buy (or at least contact a Visitor Information or website for further information or make a booking).
It is a natural progression. Information should be shown in such a way that travel consultants and consumers can scan it quickly. Note: Call to action – This is the “Contact details” information needed by customers to respond further. 3. VISUAL CLICHE The image of a tourist destination is determined by visual cliches like blue sea, palm trees, white sand, turquoise green swimming pools, untouched landscapes, imposing sights, adventurous trips, parents and children presenting health and happiness, smiles on the faces of locals and sunshine.
The facial expressions and body language of image participants (the people or objects there which stand out as distinct) or (people within the image), are very important factors to be considered. The images are selective in a way that they only feature “pleasing” participants who wear a broad smile, looking content and satisfied with their experiences. After all, this is why most people travel. Sunshine is the most used visual cliche in brochures which became synonymous with a virtual guarantee of good weather. Laurent 1967) who examines sunshine in the language of brochures finds that the sun is everywhere. It represents a source of happiness and the good life. Above all, the sun promises warmth, freedom and pleasure, it guarantees pure hedonism, provides well being and is a source of health. Conclusion In this case study I tried to shed some light on the features of tourism discourse through visual techniques: color, format and visual cliches. As a kind of advertising, the brochures aim to persuade people into buying the tourism products and services being promoted. Therefore the images used are highly selective.
They present only the positive and attractive sides of the potential touristic experiences, while the negative aspects are often ignored. Through making use of hyperbole and “modified” images which are often not the truest representation of reality, the brochures portray Istanbul as an interesting and attractive place to visit. In this sense the brochure is a successful tourism marketing tool. Done well, tourism can help protect and enrich a place. Done poorly, it can ruin it. “Tourism is like fire,” goes a saying. “It can cook your food or it can burn your house down. ”