Thursday, April 18, 2024
Respectful tourism: reduce Insta, enhance cultural experiences.

Respectful tourism: reduce Insta, enhance cultural experiences.

Travel and Bad Tourist Behavior: The Impact of Social Media

Travel is back in full swing this summer, but unfortunately, so is bad behavior by tourists. Popular destinations worldwide have seen an uptick in incidents involving tourists in recent years, including shocking incidents like the defacing of the Colosseum in Rome. These behaviors have deteriorated even in places that rarely had problems in the past. One answer to this abhorrent behavior, according to research, is social media.

Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have made it easy for travelers to find “hidden gem” restaurants and discover new destinations to add to their bucket lists. While this has opened up new possibilities for travelers, it has also led to other consequences. The democratization of travel through social media has influenced how people behave while on vacation.

People now see their social media connections posting pictures and videos from exotic locations, which makes them assume that the behavior they ordinarily carry out at home is also acceptable in their holiday destinations. This phenomenon, known as social proof, occurs when we look to the behaviors of others to inform our own actions. Therefore, travelers are more likely to act more hedonistically while on vacation, especially if they see their peers from home engaging in similar behavior.

Furthermore, social media has brought about the so-called “Instagram effect.” When people travel to beautiful places, the temptation to post photos and videos on social media is high. However, this creates a cycle that contributes to more self-indulgent travel. Travelers see their friends’ posts from specific locations and want to visit those same places to achieve a similar social status. Consequently, they often prioritize creating content over exploration, discovery, and respecting local customs.

This social media-induced tourism has led to various negative attitudes and habits among travelers. For example, the “identifiable victim effect” explains that people are more likely to sympathize with victims of tragedies when they know who those victims are. Because tourists are often isolated in hotels and resorts away from local communities, they might incorrectly assume that traveling to a place far from home provides an opportunity for consequence-free bad behavior. They underestimate or ignore the real effects their actions can have on locals and the economy.

Several destinations have responded to this issue by implementing new guidelines for visitors. Bali, for instance, introduced new rules regarding proper behavior in temples, around the island, and with locals. They also established a “tourist task force” to enforce these restrictions. Other places, like Iceland, Hawaii, Palau, New Zealand, and Costa Rica, have adopted pledges for visitors to abide by local laws and customs.

While these efforts are commendable, individuals can also play a role in promoting responsible tourism. Here are a few ways travelers can ensure they are respectful guests:

1. Do your research

Before embarking on your trip, take the time to learn about the cultural and safety norms of your destination. Even if you disagree with certain customs, it’s essential to be mindful and respectful. Understanding the impact of your actions on local communities can help you act more appropriately.

2. Put down your phone

Research shows that excessive phone usage while traveling can alienate you from your surroundings. To have meaningful and memorable travel experiences, try to be present and engage with your environment. Building connections with locals and immersing yourself in the culture can provide a more authentic and fulfilling experience.

3. Use your influence for good

If you have a significant social media following, use your platform to promote responsible tourism. Instead of solely focusing on glamorous shots and popular locations, consider showcasing small businesses and lesser-known destinations. Additionally, make sure you are demonstrating proper etiquette and following local laws during your holiday.

Ultimately, everyone has a role to play in ensuring that tourism is sustainable and respectful. By taking these steps and being mindful of our behavior, we can contribute to positive travel experiences for ourselves and the communities we visit.


About Orson Park

Pack your bags and get ready to explore the world with Orson Park, our travel blogger extraordinaire. With a passion for discovering new places, cultures, and experiences, Orson covers everything from the sandy beaches of the Caribbean to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, He offers an insider's perspective on some of the world's most fascinating and beautiful destinations. Follow him and embark on a journey of discovery that will take you to some of the most breathtaking places on earth!

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