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  • Social Media Plays a Large Part in How People Travel, But You May Want to Ignore its Influence While Planning Your Next Trip

    It’s no secret that social media has a substantial influence on our everyday lives. It plays a large part in how we connect and communicate with people, and gives us a glimpse into other cultures around the globe. Many people look to social media to decide where they want to travel, how they travel, and why specific destinations make it to the top of their bucket list. 

    In today’s world, travelers are more worried about getting a perfect picture that attracts “likes” and “comments” from followers online, rather than living in the moment and truly experiencing the culture that’s surrounding them. This has led to many top travel destinations becoming overcrowded with tourists, and has made traveling become more superficial rather than meaningful.

    Social Media’s Vast Influence on the Ever-Expanding Travel Industry

    There’s an obvious lack of diversity throughout the social media landscape with people time-and-time again posting photos from the same “Instagram-worthy” places (the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, and Times Square to name a few). According to a study conducted by Schofields, more than 40% of people ages 33 and under prioritize “Instagram-worthy” spots while planning their next trip. Shockingly, this even beat out important factors such as cost, local cuisine, and sightseeing opportunities. 

    Numerous companies in the travel industry work with popular Instagram influencers by offering them a free stay at their resorts in exchange for a social media post about their visit. Many of the people who follow these travel accounts on social media are willing to visit a destination simply because an influencer traveled there. In 2018, $1.6 billion was funneled into sponsored influencer posts on Instagram alone, with a sizable amount of that being put towards travel influencers. 

    One instance where influencers made a pretty significant impact on bringing in tourism was in the town of Wanaka, New Zealand – an unknown vacation spot for many. Though it contains breathtaking views and is a great skiing destination, Wanaka, until recently, hasn’t exactly been on most people’s vacation radar. The South Island saw a massive 14% increase in tourism to its region when it focused on inviting social media influencers to visit. This allowed social media users around the world to get a glimpse into Wanaka’s beauty. Not surprising, tourism authorities have credited some of the growth to the fact that Wanaka looks good on Instagram. 

    Rules are Being Put Into Effect With Fears that Over Tourism is Destroying Popular Destinations

    Many of these “Instagram-worthy” destinations have been taking some serious damage over the course of the past decade. One of the places that has seen a large increase in tourists is the Cinque Terre in Italy (seeing 2.5 million visitors each year due to its beautiful beaches and spectacular villages). Unfortunately, the growing amount of visitors are starting to destroy the UNESCO World Heritage Site. To try and fix the damage, there are assigned footpaths that people must walk on amid fears that walkways are being eroded under heavy footfall, and there have been talks to cap the number of tourists that can visit each year. 

    Across the globe in Peru, in an attempt to protect Machu Picchu, the Ministry of Culture has put rules into place that modifies the visitation of tourists. These new rules cover when you can visit, where you can walk, and state that you must be accompanied by a certified guide in order to enter. Other rules that have been put into place include – visitors are not permitted to bring umbrellas, bags larger than 15-by-13-by-8 inches, food or drink (not including bottled water), baby strollers, walking sticks, drones, and shoes with spiked soles or sharp heels.

    How You Can Avoid Falling into Social Media’s Influence While Planning Your Next Trip

    This issue of over tourism and being influenced solely by social media can start to be solved once we take a step back, and focus on why we truly love to travel. When deciding on where to take your next trip, choose a destination that has a lot of culture, one that gets you out of your comfort zone, or somewhere that you can disconnect and enjoy the world around you. Avoid selecting a destination based solely on receiving validation through social media – pictures are a great memory to have, but they shouldn’t consume your every thought while traveling.

    Furthermore, though social media can be a great platform to get a taste of what travel destinations have to offer, we have to get rid of this stigma that just because a place isn’t considered to be a “luxury” or “Instagram-worthy” spot doesn’t mean it’s not worth traveling to. Besides, exploring lesser-known destinations can be even more gratifying and exciting than a place that’s been done time and time again.  

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