Travel is a social responsibility
Social media and globalization in the 21st century has changed the way we travel and influence the people around us. In this article, I will describe how our perception change dramatically with the advent of the social media and how we transformed the world to become globalized.
Technology today gave us better lives from these past 200 years from camera, airplanes, electricity, air-conditioning, computers, smartphones and the internet. The recent invention of the internet has prove to be influential to our perception of the world, challenged us to become social aware of the world than we ever imagine. Our travel stories has leaped greatly from Marco Polo's travel to China, to the letters crossing the Atlantic Ocean, to sending postcards of Mt. Fuji, and now we are seeing the pictures from our laptops and smartphones posted by travelers around the world depicting their lives on their social media accounts.
Social media has shifted our view of the world, it gave us tools to narrate our lives to our families and friends faster than the letters. However, the social media that gave us new tools for storytelling also gave us consciousness and self-awareness on how other people portray their lives from around the world, and thus transforming our daily lives under the influence of the global world.
Life As Travelers
National Geographic published an article on how Instagram is changing travel. One of the main points of the article is that social media is influencing our inspirations related to our decisions. This has direct impact on the tourism destinations both good and bad. Good in a way that it contributes to the region's economy, letting people know of the issues that could impact the place and provide them the ability to voice out their opinions especially if they went to the place before. Bad in a way that the places gets overcrowded with tourists, degradation of the environment and lack of responsibility towards the places we visit.
“A lot of people are still very ego-driven. They want to portray that they are leading some kind of perfect life, which is quite silly really,” says photographer Trey Ratcliff (@treyratcliff). "I think it’s much more fun to be real."
From last year, a hiker from posted a selfie about the overcrowding at the summit of Mt. Pulag in Facebook. It caused a lot of ruckus online from opinions varying from closing the easier trails to total closure of the mountain. This happens a lot in our social media accounts and online travel communities.
A lot of travelers reported overcrowding at the beaches of Masasa beach, located in Tingloy island south of Batangas last summer of 2017, due to the fact that there are a lot of posted stories on Facebook from travelers that have been in Masasa before. The communities hyped the beaches where it is a great place to hang out with your friends, pitch tents and the place is less crowded than the popular ones. However, sometimes popularity backfires when the place cannot accommodate the growing number of people and in effect, regulations are put in place to avoid such circumstances in the future.
We humans are ego-driven and everyone now wants to depict that their lives have meaning and that means traveling became a staple need for personal satisfaction. However, we also have the responsibility to depict the real story behind the photos, an authentic experience in the places we've been.
Growth of Tourism
But social media does not only influence the travelers, but the tourism industry as well. The industry has seen sudden growth thanks to the growing network of popular social media websites as their primary medium for tourism marketing.
According to a survey, when booking travel, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on content posted by their peers online. This new way of validating information online from your peers has introduce pricing competition and improved customer services on all aspects that promotes tourism.
Meanwhile, the Philippine domestic tourism expenditure grew by 19.1 percent, from PhP 1,770.7 billion in 2015 to PhP 2,108.2 billion in 2016. This growth is attributed to the growth of local travel communities in Instagram and Facebook groups and also with popular TV shows that shows new travel destinations to their audience.
For Japan, their international visitor count grew by 187.6% from 8.358 million in 2012 to 24.039 million in 2016 within the span of 4 years. Meanwhile South Korea, they seen an increase of international tourists from 13.2 million in 2015 to 17.2 million in 2016, growing by 30.3%.
The influx of inbound and outbound tourists are seen as a way that the world with the help of social media and easier access to facilities such as airports and trains gave us mobility to travel other places.
Towards the end of the 20th century, the world has transformed where hundreds of products are crossing the oceans in a matter of days. But with this speed comes a great tradeoff, we are building an environmental debt, a large carbon footprint from the use of coal-powered electricity for our homes, use of oil that fuels our daily commute and from the use of plastics for our consumer convenience. As travelers and stewards of the earth, we are responsible to diminish this footprint that we are still continuing to enjoy everyday.
With cheap airfares and accommodation, we can travel anywhere around the world. The accessibility and modernization has offered travelers with a lot of good alternatives, increasing the competition between companies rising the travel standards. However, with increasing competition comes the increase in consumption. Consumption leads to increasing of demand, and to capture the demand requires an increase throughput to produce the supply. Our voracious appetite for consumption leads to environmental degradation.
As global travelers, we have to practice responsible traveling we visit or else we would endanger their identities and livelihood.
- Promote sustainable tourism. Use tour operators, accommodation providers and transportation that promotes sustainability and protects the environmental.
- Respect the culture. Be mindful of customs, traditions and language. Do not offend the locals and remember that you are not at your home so be careful and say thank you.
- Lower our carbon footprint. Use reusable bottles for water, reduce the use of plastic bags and minimize the waste we produce.
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