Instagram is one of the most dominant social media platforms among the youth. And the fact that it is primarily a visual platform means that stunning landscapes, iconic vistas and breathtaking scenery takes the crown for content that is most engaged with by users. An interesting study conducted by Facebook revealed that 67% of millennials turn towards Instagram for planning their next adventure, since they get an idea of how their destination would feel based on its pictures. 62% also reported that visuals of a location heavily influence their travel decisions, meaning that they might reconsider their destination if they realize it doesn’t have much to offer in terms of visual beauty. With the hunger to experience nature and beauty comes their own need to share such imagery through Instagram. Most millennials flock to “Instagrammable” destinations – Santorini, South East Asia, The Carribean – places with vibrant colours and visual appeal.
The rise of travel Instagram influencers is also worth mentioning, as these individuals curate content revolving around “magical” moments from different countries. Tourism boards have recognized the power of social media trendsetters, thus seeking them out to boost tourism. One such example occurred in 2015 in the small town of Wanaka, New Zealand. The tourism board invited and hosted influencers to post content about their travel experiences, resulting in a 14% increase in tourism! In this case, influencers provided an unquestionable and direct return on investment.
It goes without saying that the platform has also helped previously unknown or remote locations benefit through tourism since there has been a rise of users sharing images of those places. While the tourism industry has largely benefitted from this phenomenon, there have also been negatives to this increased appetite for visiting such destinations. There have been countless reports of tourists tragically falling to their death while trying to take “the perfect picture” for social media and also ruining the environment by littering and behaving recklessly.
It is unlikely that this frenzy for travelling to such photogenic destinations will decrease, at least in the short term, but what can be done by the community is to ensure that the integrity of such places is maintained. This will not only allow such destinations to be enjoyed by everyone but also mitigate any potential crises that could arise from irresponsible behaviour.