Changing Travel and Social Media Patterns in a Destination

Visualizing Impacts and Implications of Covid-19



Social Media, Volunteered Geographic Information, Destination management, Covid-19, Consumer Behavior


Using Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) from the social media site Flickr, this research explored the impact of Covid-19 travel restrictions on travel into and within Maine, a long-standing tourism destination with entrenched tourist consumer-behavior patterns. Publically available geotagged Flickr photo posts and user amounts were compared before and after March 2020 when Covid-19 travel restrictions began to be implemented. Density map visualizations of Flickr photo posts show not only how tourists decreased and shifted from popular, coastal regions to more inland, rural, natural areas within Maine, but indicates divergent movement patterns of visitors coming from places with and without travel restrictions, indicating unintended effects of travel restriction policy. Differing levels of change between Flickr photo counts and user counts were also noted suggesting a change in social media use by visitors, likely due to the heavy social and financial repercussions (travel shaming and fines) of restricted travel during a time of public health uncertainty. Understanding rapidly changing consumer behavior in a destination is valuable for tourism management at any time or place, but especially during a crisis with significant personal health consequences. VGI from social media such as Flickr can help with this understanding.

Author Biographies

Tracy Michaud, University of Southern Maine

Assistant Professor

Tourism and Hospitality Program

Muskie School of Public Service

Colleen Metcalf, University of Southern Maine

Undergraduate Student

Department of Geography-Anthropology


Matthew Bampton, University of Southern Maine

Professor of Geography

Department of Geography-Anthropology

Muskie School of Public Service

Article Text