A recent article by CNN Travel claimed that “Instagram is making you a worse tourist.” But don’t take it personally — if you’re reading this, I happen to think you’re pretty cool.

Destinations that experience heavy seasonal visitation have reported “bad behavior” from tourists (defacing public art/buildings, acting inappropriately in sacred temples, etc.), but can the social media site be responsible for the actions of the occasional disrespectful tourist? 

Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that have a robust following on Instagram — Visit Las Vegas, Travel Portland, Destination Vancouver, and Visit Wales, to name some — use the platform to reach potential travelers, market to locals, and communicate with in-market visitors. Instagram also gives DMOs an outlet for advertising partners and stakeholders via campaigns and promotions. Sounds pretty positive from the destination organization point of view, right?

Visit Las Vegas' Instagram

Travel Portland's Instagram

Destination Vancouver's Instagram

Visit Wales' Instagram

According to a 2023 survey done by Mediaweek, “79% of respondents want to see visuals and videos that depict travelers who look like them and their family and friends enjoying the destination.” So whether it be a picturesque scene from one of your destination’s breathtaking beaches or a mouth-watering shot of a burger and beer from a local foodie hotspot — a post could go a long way when it comes to drawing in visitors. 

Picture This
  • Someone I follow on Instagram posts about their vacation to your unique destination and I’m instantly hooked 
  • I visit your website to learn more and eventually book a hotel room
  • Before my trip, I research the best places to eat, drink, and shop — adding many of your partners’ local businesses to my list of must-visit spots 
  • While visiting, I post multiple stories, photos, and reels to my Instagram account
  • Someone who follows me on Instagram sees the posts about my vacation to your unique destination and is instantly hooked 

And the cycle starts all over again.

6 people standing in front of a skyline
Posts for the Big Picture 

Travelers might not realize their boastful vacation posts are truly part of the bigger picture. The valuable content they create while visiting is the exact message that DMOs seek to tell their one-of-a-kind stories — a win-win for destination content marketing strategies.

User-generated content (UGC) goes a long way; DMOs like Visit Eau Claire and Tourism Northern Ireland are turning to companies like CrowdRiff to amplify their marketing efforts with on-brand content from both locals and visitors. Pictures and videos of travelers’ first-hand experiences speak volumes to potential visitors (many DMOs utilize influencer marketing to check this box).

Now, not only did my hypothetical Instagram posts bring attention to the destination and encourage others to visit — my picture-perfect moments can be repurposed by the DMO for ongoing marketing efforts, saving valuable time and bandwidth.

Visit Eau Claire social media feed on their website

Visit Eau Claire

Discover Northern Ireland's social media feed on their website

Visit Northern Ireland

Following in the Followers’ Footsteps 

Contributing to the bigger picture of the travel industry has a more meaningful impact than many social media users realize. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 15 million American jobs and 2.6 million English jobs are supported by travel across countless industries. 

This is the message we should be spreading far and wide to build a communal sense of purpose amongst all travelers. The more we travel responsibly — and the more we post about the way we choose to travel — the easier (and more likely) it will be for people to follow in our footsteps, bringing out the best tourists in all of us.

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