This study quantifies the relationship among destination preference, destination satisfaction and destination loyalty. Destination loyalty consists of two dimensions: word-of-mouth (WOM) and destination attachment (DA). It is found that WOM is directly affected by destination satisfaction, whereas DA is predetermined by the destination preference of tourists before a visit. Thus, the destination experience is the crucial factor in the spread of positive WOM about a destination. Nevertheless, to develop tourists' DA, effective loyalty schemes should be implemented through marketing efforts before they visit a destination. The findings of this study can be used by destinations to analyze and evaluate their loyalty-building process and marketing strategy. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.