Social media tourism might be travel’s not so newest problem. Read about why this practice has its downside and how you can use your platform more positively.
Has Social Media Changed Travel?
If one thing has changed tourism this century, it’s social media. With more user generated content, people find reviews and recommendations left and right.
It’s not just review sites, though. Travelers look to social media influencers for tourism tips, itineraries, and suggestions on where to jet off to.
Experts have swipe up functionality.
Social media tourism has become it’s own thing. We make decisions based on what’s trendy on Instagram.
But is there a downside?
The Burning Question: Is Instagram Ruining Travel?
For every respectful tourist attempting to order un cafe in French while in France, I saw six Instagram models at the Eiffel Tower.
This was after I almost got selfie-sticked at the Louvre.
Doing it for the ‘gram has officially seeped its way into travel. Overlooking your Parisian balcony, coffee in hand, as you gaze off into the distance. How candid. Meditating at the Cliffs of Moher. Zen AF. Did you photoshop the other tourists out, though?
But social media tourism is a problem that goes beyond insincere yoga postures at popular attractions. Ill informed travelers share unattainable snapshots and down-right disrespectful content. All in the name of likes.
This is clearly problematic. It doesn’t just perpetuate inauthentic travel for a photo, but it encourages practices that are dangerous for us and our planet.
5 Ways Social Media is Hurting Tourism
Iceland’s tourism officials are asking travelers to stop geotagging their Iceland photos to cease tourism for the likeness of a social media photo. We’re literally trampling our planet for Instagram.
Speaking of Iceland. It’s illegal to scale certain waterfalls and cross certain boundaries. How far are you willing to go for the shot.
Two Australian influencers were jailed for taking illegal drone footage in Iran. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t worth it.
Promoting the Unattainable
Wonder why some destinations disappoint when you see them in person? Because photoshop is fake. We have an unrealistic perception of what something should look like. Thanks IG.
Peace signs during open cremations at a Nepali temple. Selfies in Auschwitz. Are you f**king kidding me. Some places are sacred.
A Lack of Safety
Or common sense…
A video of a traveler holding the deadly blue-ringed octopus got over 20,000 upvotes.
Chernobyl has magically been declared “safe” since HBO’s popular miniseries. Perfect time for a naked selfie…
Saudi Arabia press trips are a thing. Influencers were magically allowed to parade around in a bikini and picnic with their boyfriends under the stars in a country that actually practices Sharia Law. Hmm.
I’m not sold that these are good ideas. But some readers are.
And the answer isn’t to stop traveling or to punish social media influencers.
Though, I’d kind of like to.
The solution starts with creating your own experience, rather than replicating someone else’s. And continuing to use social media as a platform to generate change and promote mindful travel.
Use Social Media to Promote Responsible Travel
With locals where you’re traveling for recommendations. Ask about culture. Whether it’s your hotel concierge or a local blogger, a personal recommendation still carries weight.
Post informed content – information on avoiding scams, local spots that could use a little love, volunteer tour groups that give back.
Take #liveauthentic seriously. Share what you learn, not just a pretty picture.
Tulle skirts and yellow jackets don’t make you stand out. Well, yes, they do but…
Despite the popularity of social media tourism, we can do and promote better.