How Instagram Changed the Tourism Industry | travel

As the weather warms up on the Spanish island of Mallorca, hundreds of tourists are flocking to the beaches of Calo des Morro every day. The rush to experience the famous beach is so frantic that there is hardly any space to spread a towel on the narrow strip of sand. Queues form as people wait their turn to view the stunning blue waters, though many give up, not wanting to spend their vacation time queuing. (Also Read: Bhutan Sees Increase In International Tourists, Tourism Industry Revives)

Instagram photos have become a major factor in tourism (JFK/EXPA/ alliance).
Instagram photos have become a major factor in tourism (JFK/EXPA/ alliance).

Crowded beaches are a common sight in Mallorca, one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations. Calo des Moro, however, is an extreme case — and many believe Instagram is to blame. A search on the social media platform reveals thousands of photos in which the beach looks deserted, its blue waters glistening in the sun. An Instagram viewer would have little idea that reality is far from this serene scene.

In search of the perfect holiday picture

Since the launch of Instagram in 2010, the same phenomenon has played out over and over again: following in the footsteps of influencers, tourists chase the perfect vacation picture, flooding places that were either much less known, or certainly less popular.

Sometimes, the consequences are drastic. For example, the Konigsbach waterfall in the Berchtesgadener Land region of Bavaria was forced to close to visitors after an increasing number of day-trippers entering the area’s natural pools threatened the ecosystem’s balance.

Tourists have said in surveys that they are often encouraged to copy Instagram photos, and certainly the platform plays an important role in their decision for or against a particular destination. For example, online travel agency Expedia found that 50% of people under 40 use social media as travel inspiration, preferring it to traditional outlets like TV shows or magazines.

Inspiration from others

“Instagram undoubtedly serves as a source of inspiration for vacationers,” says Mike Ovens of the Social Media Academy for Travel and Tourism in the German state of Hesse. She adds that platforms play an important role, especially when people are looking for destinations. Many people today don’t use search engines like Google to find information about where to go on vacation, but instead search through hashtags on Instagram. “Here they look to see what they can do locally,” says Ovens. “If you are not represented on Instagram, you will not be discovered.” For tourism companies and destinations, there is no way around the platform.

The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) also looks into it. A spokeswoman told DW, “Communications aimed at specific target groups that include all the necessary outlets are more important today than ever.” She added that recommendations and vacation experiences from friends and acquaintances also have a big influence on the decision of where to go on vacation. It’s no surprise that many tour operators and travel agencies use Instagram to reach customers.

Install as photo background

“For us, Instagram is an important communication channel to give people a sense of travel,” says Michael Faber, who runs three travel agencies in Germany’s Hansruck and Mosel regions. His staff uploads new photos every day and includes very specific suggestions for where the next vacation might be — for example, in the Zillertal Valley in Tyrol.

There, even the five-star hotel stock resort has long understood the importance of Instagram. It placed a giant iron sculpture of a pair of large wings on the hotel terrace to encourage people to take photos. Barbara Mitterer from the hotel’s marketing department says, “The goal was to create a backdrop that guests would be happy to take photos in front of; of course, with the intention that these photos would be shared on Instagram.”

A little further south on Italy’s Lake Garda, Natasha Bontadi, responsible for the social media activities of the Garda Trentino Tourism Board, also uses Instagram. Bontadi uses the platform to spark people’s curiosity about the region, she says, by presenting little-known facts about the region and posting hidden spots and stunning views. “We avoid talking about famous areas that are already tourism centers.” To that end, she said, they work closely with influencers to help deliver the desired message.

The immense power of images

“Many destinations don’t want mass tourism, but rather high-quality, organized tourism,” says Julia Stubenbock, managing director of destination marketing agency Pirroth Communication in Munich, which plans social-media-related activities for other tourist destinations. the things “The power of images is immense. You can explain something, but you can also show it.” That often works very well, she says, especially with Instagram because it’s designed for sharing pictures. Social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have significantly increased marketing options targeting tourism destinations and companies. Certain target groups, especially millennials and Gen Z travelers, can be reached very well with social media platforms.

Stubenböck doesn’t believe people simply fall for overly embellished Instagram photos, believing their vacations will be just as picture-perfect. In fact, she says the trend is currently going in a different direction and “there’s a growing sensitivity to the fact that you can’t believe everything you see on Instagram.”

However, there is not much evidence of this in Mallorca these days. Calo des Moreau beach will be full of tourists again this summer. Anyone hoping to get the perfect Instagram picture out there may be disappointed.

This article has been translated from German.

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