The spatio-temporal relationship between tourism product similarity and spatial proximity has not been adequately studied empirically because of data and methodological limitations. New forms of data available at high temporal frequencies and low levels of spatial aggregation, together with large commercial data and expanding computational ability allow a variety of theories, old and new to be explored and evaluated more meticulously and systemically than has been possible hitherto. This study uses spatial visualization and data harvesting to synthesize a variety of data for exploring the evolution of hotel clusters and co-location synergies in US cities. The findings question the reliability of the current data to be used for identifying and analyzing the formation of tourist destination clusters and their dynamics. We conclude that synthesizing social media and large commercial data can generate a more robust database for research on tourism development and planning and improving opportunities for the examining spatial patterns of tourism activities. We also devise a protocol to combine ‘social media’ sources with big commercial sources for tourism development and planning, and eventually other sectors.
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