Indicators of Flickr Activity as a Proxy for Hospitality Sales: Social Media VGI in Rural Destination Management



social media, Flickr, hospitality spending, COVID-19, rural destination management, Maine


This research evaluates whether and how Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) from Flickr photo posts can inform rural tourism management, acting not only as a proxy for visitor movement but also for hospitality sales in a destination. The relationship between hospitality sales and Flickr photo and user counts are analyzed in 43 regions in Maine from 2013 to 2020 through scatterplots, regression analysis, and geo-visualizations. Regression results show a positive and statistically significant relationship between hospitality sales and the number of out-of-state Flickr users in Maine. Geo-visualizations of the data suggest slight movements of out-of-state Flickr users and visitor spending away from Maine’s most popular coastal destinations to a more inland and rural distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Furthermore, differences in travel patterns and hence hospitality sales are observed between Flickr users from places with and without COVID-19 related travel restrictions into Maine. This type of analysis adds a layer of socio-economic meaning to geo-visualizations of VGI from social media sites such as Flickr. It suggests a new way of providing insight into visitor spending patterns, especially useful for rural destination managers in places with limited access to tourism data and financial resources. 

Indicators of Flickr Activity - Cover






Academic Study