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Social Media and ICT Tools to Manage Tourism in Heritage Destinations

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Ruoss E., Sormaz A.
Book chapter
In recent years, ICT and social media have greatly influenced visitors’ behavior and consequently this has resulted in negative impacts on the natural and cultural heritage sites. Tourist destinations seek to attract even more visitors using ICT tools, commercial internet platforms and social media. The investigations undertaken in 2019 included examples of over tourism heritage sites which exceed permanently or periodically their Carrying Capacity and show impacts from fast growing visitor numbers. Key tourism spots of selected destinations in the World Heritage sites such as the Dolomites and Venice in Italy, Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch in Switzerland, were analyzed on social media and commercial travel websites. Studies of small destinations endangered by overtourism concerned the Verzasca valley in Switzerland, Trolltunga in Norway, and Scala dei Turchi in Sicily, Italy. The investigations show that the role of visual and social media in destination marketing has gained enormous influence on traveler behavior in just one decade. Especially in small heritage sites with insufficient or no tourism infrastructure and business, the booming visitors flow results in overtourism and consequently in impacts to natural and cultural heritage, local economy and population. The combination of visual media (television, movies, short films or music clips on YouTube) and social media presence can boost little or unknown sites periodically or seasonally. The steadily growing tourism sector together with improved transportation and decreasing travel costs have made Venice a top tourist destination. The increase of visitors is in contrast to the decreasing number of residents. The exponentially growing social media presence corresponds to the rise of visitor numbers in just one decade. A social media analysis of the destinations in the Natural World Heritage site in the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch show that numbers of hashtags, posts, and re views are excellent indicators and tools to visualize over- and undertourism areas. Communication through social media is especially useful for “under tourism” destinations with the need for tourism enhancement. Media and ICT applications will have significant roles in new governance and management models, supporting the distribution of tourist flows, balancing over and under tourism, in space and time. Measures to improve visitor management will be little effective if they are not part of an integrated tourism strategy inclu ding social media. A “heritage stewardship destination” model, focusing on quality tourism which creates added values for local people and visitors, offers opportunities to jointly engage in the conservation of their heritage, to improve their own living standards and experience, and to share equally costs and benefits. A changed tourism paradigm for heritage destinations has to respect local evidences and involve all actors in the decision processes.
In: Luger, K. & Ripp, M. (Eds) World Heritage, Place Making and Sustainable Tourism - Towards Integrative Approaches in Heritage Management.
Kurt Luger & Matthias Ripp, StudienVerlag Innsbruck-Vienna-Bolzano
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Heritage destinations, ICT, social media, visitor management, over and under tourism, sustainable tourism, UNESCO World Heritage