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Instagram’s Impact on the Travel and Tourism Industry



Instagram’s Impact on the Travel and Tourism Industry

It is quite difficult to think of a time when Instagram wasn’t a part of our lives, especially when it comes to the travel and tourism industry. The image-focused social media giant has infiltrated this adventure-fill industry at its core. On Instagram people all over the world come across millions of inspiring travel posts. These photos influence where travelers go, how they tell travel stories, and how they interact with the destinations they visit.

Brands Using Instagram

Travelers aren’t the only ones leveraging Instagram’s influence. Countless brands have turned to the social media platform for “more human” content. With more than 1 billion active users on Instagram, brands (and the influencers they partner with) are competing more than ever before to win over the interest of consumers. This competition for ig likes has led to new services, such as


While Instagram is an amazing tool for vacation planning with features like saving posts and geotagging, it can be a major cause of overtourism. Many Instagram users and influencers use potential likes as part of their process in deciding where their next adventure should take them. The social media platform has catapulted numerous destinations to fame:

  • Banff National Park in Canada
  • Cappadocia in Turkey
  • Trolltunga in Norway
  • The Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico
  • Alsace in France
  • Rue Crémieux in Paris

The hotspots of Instagram fame now face an overtourism problem, sometimes leading them to be closed to tourists. In Trolltunga’s case alone, visitors increased from 500 in 2009 to 40,000 in 2014. Even small towns have seen a rise in tourism thanks to the image-focused social media tool. In 2015, the small New Zealand alpine town of Wanaka started inviting “Instagram influencers” with the purpose of sharing photos and stories of their trips to the town. This invitation to influencers resulted in Wanaka seeing a fourteen percent increase in their tourism, which was the fastest in New Zealand.

Choosing Vacation Destinations

Not only is Instagram changing how influencers choose a destination, but everyday users are also turning to the social media platform to choose where to take a vacation to next. People may even see an amazing photo on their feed and decide not only that’s where they’re going to go for their next trip. They might even book their flight just minutes later. This isn’t too surprising considering more than 500 million posts with the hashtag “travel” on Instagram. A study also found 67 percent of travel enthusiasts on the platform use Instagram as a tool for finding new places to travel to.

Misbehaving Influencers on Instagram

Misbehaving Influencers

With the growing number of “influencers” and aspiring influencers on Instagram, the competition for likes and comments on photos keeps increasing. Influencers have been known to turn to dangerous and sometimes bizarre actions in an attempt to get their posts to go viral. Travelers are going to extremes to get the perfect shot, such as trespassing, standing on cliff edges, crossing over safety barriers, and more.

Actions like these have led to more than 250 “selfie-related” deaths between the years of 2011 and 2017. However, many Instagrammers are using their “influence” to promote good behavior and sustainable, mindful travel as well.

Staged reality

The “staged reality” of numerous Instagram posts can cause a letdown for many travelers who expect the same experience as what they see in many of the epic photos they come across on their feed. From cave visits to desert safaris to mirror lakes, many influencers post images that just aren’t reflective of the reality of destinations. One such optical illusion was the “mirror lake” of the Lempuyang temple in Bali, Indonesia. This turned out to be a staged illusion using an iPhone.

This trend of extending the truth of travel spots can lead to an increase in tourism for destinations, as well as a disappointment among tourists in discovering that things aren’t what they thought they would be. This can result in a loss of tourism for places. Either way, it certainly has an impact on the tourism and travel industry for so many travel destinations across the world.

New Experiences

One interesting impact of Instagram on the travel and tourism industry is the creation of new “made-for-Instagram” experiences that aim to provide selfie opportunities for Instagram users. The galleries of the world now have to deal with unique “designed for Instagram museums” that were created to attract social media users searching for the perfect selfie setting. Places like the Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream feature interactive venues bursting with color that thrive on the photo opportunities they offer.

Numerous cafes have also changed their menus and decor to be more Instagram-focused. This is very evident with all of the new photogenic food you can find at Disney World. There has been a shift in offering more Instagram-worthy treats.

While many people will still just see Instagram as another social media platform, one featuring a bunch of striking image squares, there’s no denying that it has an impact on travel. Entire travel experiences can be curated almost entirely by what people see on social media. This means that travelers, photographers, and influencers should be mindful when traveling and taking photos.

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