Tourism is undergoing major changes in the advent of social media networks and other forms of digital technology. This has affected a number of tourism related processes including marketing, destination making, travel experiences and visitor feedback but also various tourism subsectors, namely hospitality, transportation and tour operators. An already substantial and growing body of research has investigated these developments, both regarding tourism processes (Munar 2011, Tham et. al. 2013, Mkono & Tribe, 2017) and industry subsectors (Leung et al. 2013, Munar & Jacobsen, 2014, Gretzel & Fesenmaier 2009, Hvass & Munar, 2012). However, largely overlooked are the effects of these changes on the urban fabric and its social structure, in particular questions concerning inequality.
Digital technologies are widely perceived as a vehicle to foster economic upliftment. Advocacy for new digital platforms and
But claims that digitally enhanced tourism is able to address issues of inequality remain contested as resistance and protest against noise, overcrowding and tourism–
Against this backdrop we aim to bring together two aspects of tourism studies which have been treated rather isolated from one another but need to be addressed in their complex interrelations: the influence of digital
Narratives and Representation
Some insinuations have been made in terms of the potential of social media to reduce inequality, due to its accessibility and the free or low-cost nature of its use. Social media may enable marginalised urban citizens to amplify their voice in urban conflicts. (Martin 2016, Xenos, Vromen & Loader 2014). Tourists can be catalyst in these processes by providing an audience and prompting the need and the economic incentive to create local stories about places. More generally speaking, tourism has been shown to put places otherwise marginalized on maps from which they were previously hidden (Steinbrink et al 2014), however such processes may have problematic consequences (Holst 2016). We seek to understand better how digital technologies can assist in putting certain, either unknown or stigmatized, areas “on the map” and thus increase their visibility as a destination in terms of tourism offerings (Cheng 2016)
Media infrastructures and the power of algorithms
While there is evidence for a wider expansion of digital
Political Economy and material effects
Key sharing economy actors of urban tourism like AirBnB claim that their endeavor has poverty alleviating aspects. Thus struggling families may increase their revenue by temporarily renting out vacant rooms or housing. The evidence for this is scarce and often contradicting claims are made, e.g. that Airbnb drives up local rents and has displacement effects (Lee 2016, Sans & Domínguez. 2016). In addition, some research has demonstrated that the sharing economy is displacing traditional tourism economies with significant consequences for local operators that rely on this market (Fang, Ye & Law, 2015). Moreover leakages need to be re-considered as every AirBnB transaction moves locally generated money to California.
We invite papers from a variety of disciplines and