Beyond the tourist gaze: the role of visual media in creating smart tourism approaches - An empirical research on visual social networks
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- Master theses 
This study analyses the impact and usage of images and videos on social networks in tourism development from the perspective of tourist-users and tourism providers. The aim is to understand to what extent social networks impact the construction of the tourist gaze, and to what extent visuality on social networks is creating new tourism approaches and interactions. An online survey, a photo experiment and a few examples and case studies from tourism in Scandinavia, South Europe and North America explore the interface between tourism and visual contents on social networks including the role of social network accounts and tourism stakeholders in the creation on online experiences and the digital experience of tourism attractions and places. Results suggest that visuality on social networks impacts the social tourist gaze, by generating a virtual extension of the ‘social tourist gaze’. The latter is created and consumed virtually and simultaneously, meaning that digital images and videos still allow the production of signs thanks to which people make connections within the objects depicted. Moreover, the gazing process occurs on emotional levels, as well as according to the popularity and virality of a certain social network content, leading tourist-users to gaze upon what they see and the emotions that arise from visuality, but also how they are presented and claimed by the social public. The study suggests that the social tourist gaze is created and consumed digitally and virtually; however, once it is created, it leads to new tourism approaches and interactions: the tourism providers establish their presence on social network, and take on practices that allow the creation a community with the same interests, and engage as much as possible with users given their new role of prosumers (producers-consumers). For this reason, tourist-users also engage new practises: visual content – as well as their virality and the interactions with other users – on social network are now influencing their perception, by leading them to prefer a destination and to gather travel information from others’ content.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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