3 years ago

Social Media Data Can Be Used to Understand Tourists’ Preferences for Nature-Based Experiences in Protected Areas

Atte Moilanen, Rob Slotow, Henrikki Tenkanen, Tuuli Toivonen, Vuokko Heikinheimo, Enrico Di Minin, Anna Hausmann
Can social media data be used as an alternative to traditional surveys to understand tourists’ preferences for nature-based experiences in protected areas? We explored this by comparing preferences for biodiversity obtained from a traditional survey conducted in Kruger National Park, South Africa, with observed preferences assessed from over 13,600 pictures shared on Instagram and Flickr by tourists visiting the park in the same period. We found no significant difference between the preferences of tourists as stated in the surveys and the preferences revealed by social media content. Overall, large-bodied mammals were found to be the favorite group, both in the survey and on social media platforms. However, Flickr was found to better match tourists’ preference for less-charismatic biodiversity. Our findings suggest that social media content can be used as a cost-efficient way to explore, and for more continuous monitoring of, preferences for biodiversity and human activities in protected areas.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1111/conl.12343

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