The traces of ecotourism in a digital world: spatial and trend analysis of geotagged photographs on social media and Google search data for sustainable development

Hanyoung Go, Myunghwa Kang, Yunwoo Nam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to track how ecotourism has been presented in a digital world over time using geotagged photographs and internet search data. Ecotourism photographs and Google Trends search data are used to evaluate tourist perceptions of ecotourism by developing a categorization of essential attributes, examining the relation of ecotourism and sustainable development, and measuring the popularity of the ecotourism sites. Design/methodology/approach: The researchers collected geotagged photographs from Flickr.com and downloaded Google search data from Google Trends. An integrative approach of content, trend and spatial analysis was applied to develop ecotourism categories and investigate tourist perceptions of ecotourism. First, the authors investigate ecotourism geotagged photographs on a social media to comprehend tourist perceptions of ecotourism by developing a categorization of key ecotourism attributes and measuring the popularity of the ecotourism sites. Second, they examined how ecotourism has been related with sustainable development using internet search data and investigate the trends in search data. Third, spatial analysis using GIS maps was used to visualize the spatial-temporal changes of photographs and tourist views throughout the world. Findings: This study identified three primary themes of ecotourism perceptions and 13 categories of ecotourism attributes. Interest over time about ecotourism was mostly presented as its definitions in Google Trends. The result indicates that tracked ecotourism locations and tourist footprints are not congruent with the popular regions of ecotourism Google search. Originality/value: This research follows the changing trends in ecotourism over a decade using geotagged photographs and internet search data. The evaluation of the global ecotourism trend provides important insights for global sustainable tourism development and actual tourist perception. Analyzing the trend of ecotourism is a strategic approach to assess the achievement of UN sustainable development goals. Factual perspectives and insights into how tourists are likely to seek and perceive natural attractions are valuable for a range of audiences, such as tourism industries and governments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-202
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 25 2020

Keywords

  • Ecotourism
  • Geotagged photos
  • Google Trends
  • Social media
  • Spatial analysis
  • Sustainable development
  • Trend analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Computer Science Applications

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