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Article

Advancing Sustainable Development and Protected Area Management with Social Media-Based Tourism Data

1
Natural Capital Project, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2
School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
3
Puget Sound Partnership, Olympia, WA 98501, USA
4
Nature & Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
5
Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Gioele Capillo
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2427; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052427
Received: 8 January 2021 / Revised: 13 February 2021 / Accepted: 15 February 2021 / Published: 24 February 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Tourism, Protected Areas, and Sustainability)
Sustainable tourism involves increasingly attracting visitors while preserving the natural capital of a destination for future generations. To foster tourism while protecting sensitive environments, coastal managers, tourism operators, and other decision-makers benefit from information about where tourists go and which aspects of the natural and built environment draw them to particular locations. Yet this information is often lacking at management-relevant scales and in remote places. We tested and applied methods using social media as data on tourism in The Bahamas. We found that visitation, as measured by numbers of geolocated photographs, is well correlated with counts of visitors from entrance surveys for islands and parks. Using this relationship, we predicted nearly 4 K visitor-days to the network of Bahamian marine protected areas annually, with visitation varying more than 20-fold between the most and least visited parks. Next, to understand spatial patterns of tourism for sustainable development, we combined social media-based data with entrance surveys for Andros, the largest island in The Bahamas. We estimated that tourists spend 125 K visitor-nights and more than US$45 M in the most highly visited district, five times that of the least visited district. We also found that tourists prefer accessible, natural landscapes—such as reefs near lodges—that can be reached by air, roads, and ferries. The results of our study are being used to inform development and conservation decisions, such as where to invest in infrastructure for visitor access and accommodation, siting new marine protected areas, and management of established protected areas. Our work provides an important example of how to leverage social media as a source of data to inform strategies that encourage tourism, while conserving the environments that draw visitors to a destination in the first place. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable development; marine protected areas; tourism; The Bahamas; Caribbean; social media data; coral reefs; InVEST; sensitive environments; ecosystem services; Flickr sustainable development; marine protected areas; tourism; The Bahamas; Caribbean; social media data; coral reefs; InVEST; sensitive environments; ecosystem services; Flickr
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MDPI and ACS Style

Arkema, K.K.; Fisher, D.M.; Wyatt, K.; Wood, S.A.; Payne, H.J. Advancing Sustainable Development and Protected Area Management with Social Media-Based Tourism Data. Sustainability 2021, 13, 2427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052427

AMA Style

Arkema KK, Fisher DM, Wyatt K, Wood SA, Payne HJ. Advancing Sustainable Development and Protected Area Management with Social Media-Based Tourism Data. Sustainability. 2021; 13(5):2427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052427

Chicago/Turabian Style

Arkema, Katie K., David M. Fisher, Katherine Wyatt, Spencer A. Wood, and Hanna J. Payne. 2021. "Advancing Sustainable Development and Protected Area Management with Social Media-Based Tourism Data" Sustainability 13, no. 5: 2427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052427

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