Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Barbara Carmichael

Advisor Role

Dissertation Supervisor


Tourism in Cuba is thriving. Since 1991 the island has quickly become one of the top Caribbean tourist destinations. As a result tourism researchers have recently turned their attention towards investigating many facets of tourism on the island. However one omission in this growing corpus of research is the effect that politics has had on Cuba’s tourist destination image (TDI). In this study I explore how politics influences the evolution of tourist destination image. I also demonstrate that a critical constructivist paradigm can be used as an alternative to traditional positivist/postpositivist ways of researching tourist destination image. Finally I utilize the unique, politically charged, situation of Cuba, the US, and Canada as a case study to illustrate the above objectives. To accomplish this I critique the body of TDI literature to demonstrate that the over reliance on positivist and postpositivist approaches has narrowed how TDI is conceptualized. I then present the findings of my study as a means of addressing the deficiencies in the current literature. The way I approach my study as a critical constructivist demonstrates an alternative way of knowing and researching tourist destination image. This approach broadens the scope of acceptable areas of exploration, which is particularly important when the subject of the study, Canadians’ and Americans’ image of Cuba, presents fertile material for the investigation of how politics influence people’s TDI. As a means of operationalizing a critical constructivist epistemology I interviewed 20 Canadian and 22 American tourists to the Caribbean using a semistructured interview designed to elicit their images of Cuba. I then used a qualitative frame analysis approach incorporating Creed, Langstraat, and Scully’s (2002) signature matrix in order to scrutinize these interviews for organizing narratives that would suggest unifying frames. Both groups of interviewees were found to have a dominant framing of images related to Cuba. I present a critical exploration of these frames by examining their unifying logics, the implicit assumptions made by those who proffer it, the contradictions both within the frame and between the frame and the discourse that nurtures it, and reflect on the significance of my embeddedness within the culture I am investigating.

Convocation Year


Included in

Tourism Commons