266 | 30, pp. 265-281 | doxa.comunicación

January-June of 2020

The use of Facebook as a tourist communication tool in major international urban destinations

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction

Tourism is currently one of the most important economic sectors in the world. The tourist industry is establishing itself as one of the best indicators for measuring the good health of the economy, both in developed and emerging countries. In 2017 tourism contributed just over 10% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), it generated one in ten jobs and accounted for approximately 30% of export services worldwide (UNWTO; 2018).

In 2018 there were 1.4 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide, a growth of 6% compared to the previous year. This figure was reached two years earlier than official forecasts (UNWTO, 1998). Urban tourism is the segment that is experiencing the most significant growth worldwide due to its capacity to attract tourists for both business and leisure. Consequently, it has become essential to the cities’ economies.

The tourism sector has continued to grow due to many factors: the opening of new markets, new business models, cheaper travel, and, of course, the emergence and subsequent development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and the Internet (Buhalis and Law, 2008). In any case, social media has marked a turning point in tourist communication for the tourism sector (Martínez-Valerio, 2012).

In this sense, many authors consider social media to be the internet’s most revolutionary application (Rodríguez and De la Morena, 2014) as it is “the modus operandi of the 21st century” (Lange-Faria and Elliot, 2012). Social media has transformed tourist communication (Xiang and Gretzel, 2010; De San Eugenio 2011; Míguez, Mariné-Roig, and Huertas, 2014; Munar and Jacobesen, 2014; Wichels, 2014; Paniagua and Huertas, 2018).

This transformation is mainly due to the capacity to interact and create a dialogue with audiences on social media (Lim, Chung and A Weaber, 2012; Míguez et al., 2014; Altamirano and Túñez López, 2016). Consumers can talk to each other,

territories can perform better because of their presence on social media. As a methodological technique, the content analysis of the official pages of the destinations included in the study “City Tourism Performance Research” (UNWTO and WTCF, 2017) is proposed. The study provides success stories in urban tourism; Malaga is one of these as it is the fastest-growing urban destination in Spain. 2,217 shared posts are analysed between February and April 2019 on the pages of the following cities: Antwerp, Berlin, Bogota, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Cape Town, Hangzhou, Linz, Malaga, Marrakech, Beijing, Seoul, Sapporo, Tianjin, Tokyo, and Turin. The conclusion is that the topics that generate the most reactions are those that correspond to visual elements and the attributes that differentiate the destinations. It is also confirmed that the territories maintain a more intuitive rather than strategic presence on Facebook.


Facebook; tourism; destinations; cities; interaction.

pueden lograr un mayor rendimiento de su presencia en los medios sociales. Como técnica metodológica, se propone el análisis de con-tenido de las páginas oficiales de los destinos incluidos en el estu-dio ‘City Tourism Performance Research’ (UNWTO y WTCF, 2017), que recoge casos de éxito en el turismo urbano, a los que se suma Málaga, por el ser el destino urbano de España que más crece. En total, se analizan 2.217 posts compartidos entre febrero y abril de 2019 en las páginas de las ciudades de Amberes, Berlín, Bogotá, Bue-nos Aires, Copenhague, Ciudad del Cabo, Hangzhou, Linz, Málaga, Marrakech, Pekín, Seúl, Sapporo, Tianjin, Tokio y Turín. Se concluye que los temas que generan más reacciones son aquellos que se co-rresponden con los elementos visuales y con los atributos diferencia-dores de los destinos y se confirma que los territorios mantienen en Facebook una presencia más intuitiva que estratégica.

Palabras clave:

Facebook; turismo; destinos; ciudades; interacción.