Home Travel Marketing Positive and negative effects of Social Media on the Tourism industry

Positive and negative effects of Social Media on the Tourism industry

Positive and negative effects of Social Media on the Tourism industry
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11 min.

The social media phenomenon has this incredible power to impact various industries. The tourism industry seems to be very susceptible to the effects of social media platforms. To what extent, though?

The travel industry is among the early adopters of new technologies and solutions. Social media networks enabled the sector to improve various processes and deliver better experiences to travelers worldwide.

Let’s see the most crucial social media tourism statistics, followed by the effects of social media on tourism, and some of the most noteworthy examples of social media use in the sector.

Social media tourism statistics

The relationship between social media platforms and the travel industry is best understood through relevant stats. Here are the most interesting social media tourism statistics. 

Statistics about social media in tourism

When it comes to travelers and social networks, it’s surprising to discover that almost 85% of millennials use someone else’s social posts when planning their vacations. Around 43% of them won’t go on a vacation if they can’t be sure that their followers can see their vacation posts, while 34% book a hotel because they saw it via user-generated content. 

People from all corners of the world keep using social media channels to talk about their travels. In fact, 74% of people who travel use social media while on vacation. During 2019, social media users kept generating a travel-related hashtag search volume of 1 million every week

According to recent research, social media became a vital part of tourism companies’ strategic operations during the pandemic, and consumption increased by 72%. 

Social media tourism statistics also reveal some interesting shifts in tourism marketing strategies pursued by travel agencies, hotels, travel agents, and OTAs. 

The travel industry continues to be the most engaging industry on Instagram, with an average engagement rate of 1.41%. The engagement rates on Twitter are 0.04%, TikTok 8.74%, and Facebook 0.27%. The spike in TikTok travel industry posts engagement indicates that this social media channel can provide very lucrative opportunities to the travel sector in the future. 

Representatives of tourism businesses use various marketing channels in their mix. However, the International Tourist Research Centers found out that 88% of tourism businesses actively use social media to promote destinations and offers and understand the attitudes of consumers. 

Paid ads continue to be the favorite social media marketing strategy for travel marketers, and the most attractive platform is Facebook. According to recent research, almost 80% of travel marketers use Facebook to launch paid ad campaigns to achieve a range of goals, from increasing awareness to boosting booking rates. 

Importance of social media in the tourism industry

With the above stats in mind, it’s pretty clear that social media is quite an important asset for the tourism sector. 

When it comes to the importance of social media in the tourism industry, we first have to acknowledge the opportunities social media platforms deliver to hotels, travel agents, agencies, and OTAs. The power of social media lies in the sheer number of people who use it daily:

Any business or individual involved in the tourism sector can create and use these social media platforms for free. They can create official profiles and use them to provide relevant information, answer users’ questions, or engage with users to create a large following. No wonder many marketers use social media to help hotels and travel agents increase visibility. 

More importantly, social media platforms offer paid marketing opportunities. They have access to a ridiculous amount of information on their users. It’s important because it enables travel marketers to launch comprehensive marketing strategies. The platforms have advanced targeting options allowing marketers to target very specific demographics.

Another important factor is engagement and interaction. Social media platforms are also communication channels. They also support the integration of AI and chatbots that travel companies can use to answer important questions or enable online booking. 

Finally, travel companies can use social media with social media analytics software. It can help them make sense of the data, measure KPIs such as engagement and click-through rate, and gauge followers’ sentiment.

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Impact of social media on tourism

Social media’s impact on tourism is huge. The best way to understand is to discover what people do before going on a trip. Social media helped create this environment where people are invited to research a tourist destination and share personal photos and videos. In other words, social media has completely changed the way people make travel decisions.

In fact, according to GlobalData, 30% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials see a direct engagement with a brand as the most important purchasing decision factor. The same report indicates that social media has also changed the best customer services paradigm. Travel companies now use social media channels to enhance customer service and offer availability 24/7/365.

Social media has also enabled travelers to do comprehensive research on destinations. An average traveler has 400 digital moments on average before making the booking decision, and almost 90% of those experiences are mobile experiences. 

One of the studies reveals that 27% of travelers make the initial decision to travel to a specific destination thanks to Facebook posts. 

Social media didn’t only transform how travel and hospitality companies market their offer but also how they interact with customers to facilitate direct bookings. A recent survey by GuestCentric discovered that 49% of hoteliers see social media as the second most important marketing and sales priority. We are talking about a 4.5% increase over one year.

Finally, we have reviews via social media. Travelers are four times more likely to choose a hotel with reviews higher than other hotels at the same price point. 76% of travelers are willing to spend more when booking a hotel if most reviews are positive and the score is high. 

More importantly, properties that responded to over 50% of the reviews posted via social media were able to boost occupancy rates by a staggering 6.4%

Impact of social media influencers on tourism

Influencer marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. Influencers have become important for the tourism sector. However, they are still not as important as organic social media reviews and posts.

Authentic photos and videos have more value to travelers than paid and staged visuals influencers create and share. Almost 40% of people report that influencer photos and videos don’t impact their decisions when choosing a hotel or resort. 

However, one of the recent studies suggests that this might change in the foreseeable future as social media influencers have the potential to impact all stages of the travelers’ decision-making process, including:

  • Desire;
  • Information search;
  • Evaluating alternatives;
  • Purchase decisions;
  • Satisfaction;
  • Experience sharing.

It partially applies to a tourism business interested in attracting young travelers. It appears that young travelers positively respond to social media influencers, specifically Instagram influencers. Influencers have the power to affect their followers’ intention to visit the places featured in their content.

At the same time, it’s equally important to consider how tourism positively impact and benefits local communities. Explore the synergy between tourism and community development in our focused piece, where we uncover the myriad ways tourism can be a force for local empowerment.

Beyond the significant impact of social media influencers on tourism, there’s a critical need for tourism businesses to craft travel experiences that remain etched in customers’ memories. Uncover effective strategies and practical tips to achieve this by delving into our comprehensive guide about customer journeys in the travel and tourism sector.

Negative effects of social media on the tourism industry

Social media doesn’t only have positive effects on the tourism industry. It also has the potential to negatively affect it. One of the biggest concerns for tourism brands is maintaining the brand image. However, as one comparative study finds out, negative interactions on the official social media posting can potentially hurt a travel brand’s image.

The problem with social media is that negative comments don’t only spread among the followers. Potential customers can see these comments and start to second-guess their decisions to travel with the company or book through it.

Finally, as we’ve all seen in the past, social media can negatively affect the tourism industry in one geographical location. The event that comes to mind is the Maldives tourist authority’s Twitter campaign idea. Instead of promoting the tourism industry, the campaign backfired, and the entire sector in the Maldives suffered.

Advances in social media for travel, tourism, and hospitality

The tourism and hospitality sectors didn’t become interested in leveraging social media only because of billions of people using it. It goes beyond destination marketing via paid ads and influencers. Over the last decade, there have been some significant advances in social media that benefit the entire travel industry.

Take Facebook, for instance. The platform has released a Marketing API, which travel companies can use to streamline advertising on Facebook. Additionally, companies can use Conversions API to enrich their internal marketing data with Facebook’s data. It helps them optimize ad targeting, run a cost-efficient operation, and achieve specific goals.

The advances helped make the Facebook ad platform one of the most comprehensive paid ads platforms online.

When it comes to promoting destinations to reflect modern travelers’ expectations, Instagram hit the sweet spot with the 2020 Reels update. Instagram users, including influencers, can create stunning 15-second videos to highlight some destinations, activities, or services. 

Examples of tourism social media campaigns

The best way to understand the power of social media is to look at some campaigns and the extent of their success.

#ArtsinLB – destination social media marketing

Long Beach arts and culture are among the main tourist attractions in this location. However, the city of Los Angeles managed to take center stage. To bring culture and arts back into the spotlight, Long Beach CVB decided to use social media influencers for every major social channel, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. 

ArtsinLB instagram post

The results were outstanding. The #ArtsinLB generated almost 2,000 unique posts, and the posts generated 38 million impressions

Visit Wiltshire – driving social engagement through the roof

Visit Wiltshire is a renowned tourism development organization. After receiving funding from the Discover England Fund, the organization decided to use a multi-channel marketing approach with social media as its central piece. 

The organization was mainly focused on building a social following on Facebook, creating content with engagement in mind.

The campaign lasted for six weeks, and the results were that audience reach increased by 125%, and social engagement actions increased by 156%

Discover Your South Africa – increase the number of visitors and considerations

South African Tourism is one of the leading organizations in Africa’s travel sector. The organization wanted to increase the number of visitors from Ireland and the UK. Social media platforms appeared to provide the best opportunities to promote destinations in South Africa to this specific demographic

Discover Your South Africa front cover

They created a sharable interactive quiz featuring Instagram-like square images. The campaign turned out to be a huge success – it reached 1.5 million UK and Irish users, and the bookings increased by 57%.

Beekman Tower – increasing click-through rates

Beekman Tower is a renowned Manhattan hotel and one of the top tourist attractions in this borough of New York City. The hotel wanted to keep attracting the valued guests while staying true to the modern-classic experience it offers. They decided to go for social media because the hotel market in this area is fast-paced, and competition is harsh. 

The social media campaign targeted Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. After social listening and analysis, they created content that perfectly resonates with their target audience. Every post generated 3,000 impressions on average, but more importantly, posts generated 1,500 clicks on average


At this point, the ties between social media and the tourism industry have become inseparable. The impact of social media on tourism and hospitality is immense. Today we have tourism businesses of all sizes leveraging social media to increase awareness, engage with potential guests, and improve bookings. 

Given the current situation, it’s safe to assume that we will continue to see travel companies using social media to establish a better position in their target market. 

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