Is Instagram Changing How We Travel?
By Leah Freeman-Haskin
The influence of social media is undeniable these days with Instagram hosting more than 500 million active users who share an average of 80 million images a day. These images are impacting how we make many life decisions from careers to relationships, and even how we travel. With so many people deciding on their next getaway based on Instagram posts, it makes you wonder how else Instagram is influencing how we travel.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen little known destinations peak in popularity due to social media with Trolltunga, a mountain in Norway, serving as a perfect example. According to nationalgeographic.com, between 2009 and 2014, visitors to Trolltunga increased from 500 to 40,000 in what many consider a wave of social media-fueled tourism.
Another example is in the small town of Wanaka, New Zealand. The tourism board started inviting Instagram influencers to visit and post about their adventures. As a result, Wanaka saw a 14 percent increase in tourism growth – the fastest growth in the country.
So, what’s the downfall? Perhaps the dark side of Instagram-influenced travel is when it opens the door for overcrowding, environmental degradation, and dangerous stunts. With such tragic deaths as a 24-year old Australian student losing her footing and falling to her death while trying to re-create a popular shot at Trolltunga, and a Polish couple crossing the safety barrier at Cabo da Roca, Portugal, to capture a selfie and tumbling off the cliff’s edge, it’s clear that mindful travel needs to be practiced over travel for social exposure.