Tourism is one of the fastest and steadiest growing industries globally. With more travellers every year and more demand for non-mainstream experiences, destination image represents a research area within tourism that is increasingly challenged due to the vast availability of detailed and personalised information. Millennial tourists, the fastest growing segment within tourism, are transforming the industry and challenging non-mainstream destinations such as Lebanon to identify millennials’ destination image of themselves and to learn how the images are formed. The vast body of research on destination image so far has neglected both millennials and non-mainstream destinations like Lebanon, which will be used as a case study here. This study used a survey on millennials aged 18 to 36 years old from all over the world regarding their image of Lebanon and how they arrive at destination images. Thus, this study fills a gap in research about destination image and its formation as it includes recent variables such as social media and the risk environment of a post 911 world. The study offers insight into one of the most influential and numerous generations ever to travel and reveals a destination in a region afflicted by stereotypes and conflict, therefore opening the doors to more studies about millennials and destinations like Lebanon.
The results reveal an image shaped by stereotypes about the Middle East and commonly known facts about Lebanon but betray a general lack of true understanding and knowledge of this country. The destination image formation process is revealed to be based on the internet, entertainment industry and millennials’ social circles while feelings are recognised to be the primary factor in decision making.
The study recognises many aspects of destination image that need further research and offers recommendations for amending and increasing Lebanon’s public profile and image.