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SOCIAL MEDIA AND ICT TOOLS TO MANAGE TOURISM IN HERITAGE DESTINATIONS

Engelbert Ruoss & Andela Sormaz
November 2020

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 heri- tage 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 overtour- ism 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 im- pacts to natural and cultural heritage, local economy and population. The combina- tion of visual media (television, movies, short films or music clips on YouTube) and social media presence can boost little or unknown sites periodically or seaso- nally.