Stuart McDonald, Travelfish
"Instagram is beautiful but it’s bullshit."
Quote from Stuart McDonald, co-founder of Travelfish, in a story on PhocusWire this week on the shifting travel landscape of Southeast Asia.
Each Friday, PhocusWire dissects and debates an industry trend or new development covered on our site that week.
It’s time to take stock and stop seeing travel destinations through an (Instagram) filter - or should that be lens?
While it’s fun to share snaps on Instagram, and that process has become part of a trip, as well as provides memories for many, it’s distorting how we see destinations in person as well as from afar.
How often now do travelers arrive in a destination or landmark to find it mobbed by tourists queuing up to take that perfect shot to share with those back home?
It can be fairly heartbreaking for those that just want to enjoy a place in the moment.
And, although it’s often only those with sharp elbows that will persist, once shared, how real is that picture in terms of depicting a place?
Thousands might come afterwards looking for that same shot and feel disappointed or let down when they realize that it’s not some “off-the-beaten-track” find.
But, the blame does not necessarily fall solely on the shoulders of tourists or the social media platforms.
As mentioned by Stuart McDonald in the Travelfish Q&A, some quick-thinking brands have taken advantage of the phenomenon and arranged tours based on snapping the most snap-able images in a place.
No finger pointing necessary, but think of many large European cities now when you turn a corner and see a bride and groom posing in an iconic spot before moving on to the next spot and/or city on their carefully choreographed tour.
In the same way that city authorities and destination management companies are thinking about how to address overtourism, travel companies also need to think about how responsibly they are behaving and the message they are sending to their traveling customers.
And, as a result, we all as travelers might stop and take in a place a bit more often with our eyes rather than our smartphones.
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