Author Bios (50 Words)

Hongchao Zhang is a Climate Adaptation Science trainee and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University. His research is in climate change and sustainable tourism management with an emphasis in modeling tourism visitation by using social media analytics.

Jordan W. Smith, Ph.D. is the Director of the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environment and Society at Utah State University. His research examines the adaptive behavior of outdoor recreationists and natural resource dependent communities affected by climate change.

Abstract (150 Words)

Using social media data for tourism research can reduce the financial cost and time for data collection. More importantly, social media data cover larger spatial and temporal scales that allow researchers to answer questions which cross-sectional designs do not. However, for tourism planners, destination managers, and on-site operators, the acquisition and use of social media data to estimate visitation can be challenging. The purpose of this study is to determine the ability of social media data to proxy visitation data collected through traditional means on public land within Utah, USA. We collected annual visitation data from U.S. federal agencies and social media data from two platforms. Our study found social media posts in the national forests and parks of Utah were significantly related to on-site observed visitation data. We suggest that social media posts can be used by tourism planners, destination managers, and on-site operators to understand tourism demand.

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Validating the Use of Social Media Data to Measure Visitation to Public Lands in Utah

Using social media data for tourism research can reduce the financial cost and time for data collection. More importantly, social media data cover larger spatial and temporal scales that allow researchers to answer questions which cross-sectional designs do not. However, for tourism planners, destination managers, and on-site operators, the acquisition and use of social media data to estimate visitation can be challenging. The purpose of this study is to determine the ability of social media data to proxy visitation data collected through traditional means on public land within Utah, USA. We collected annual visitation data from U.S. federal agencies and social media data from two platforms. Our study found social media posts in the national forests and parks of Utah were significantly related to on-site observed visitation data. We suggest that social media posts can be used by tourism planners, destination managers, and on-site operators to understand tourism demand.