It is more than a little ironic using social media to complain about the continual outpourings of Twitter, Facebook and You Tube. Particularly in travel field, social media has become an essential promotional tool, as well as a means for people to show off their travel accomplishments. So it is appropriate that Tourism New Zealand has now taken to social media to complain about the mediocrity of social media output. Their You Tube video complains about people “travelling under the social influence” - copying the travel behaviour of other social media users, right down to staging exactly the same Instagram shots.
This is a fair point. An interesting paper by Egbert van der Zee and his colleagues at the Universities of Leuven and Venice reveals that people tend to congregate at the sights already visited by social media users, resulting in an “information cascade” that adds to crowding at places with top listings on TripAdvisor. The call from New Zealand to curtail this herd behaviour is therefore understandable, although of course the fact that they are using social media to get their message across only underlines the challenge tourism destinations are facing.
The interesting question that will arise as travel restarts after the pandemic will be whether tourism will continue to be concentrated in crowded city centres, or whether there will be a reset in travel behaviour, with people heading for less crowded, and presumably safer places. We have already seen a growth in rural tourism in many places, and this is likely to continue in the near future. One wonders whether these relatively social incontinence-free places will continue to be safe, or if the flood of urbanites will increase the risk of infection in these areas as well?