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What Social Media Tell us About the Heritage Experience

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Tourists have happily embraced the possibilities of interactivity and publication provided by socialmedia and Web 2.0. The last decade has seen a massive increase of digital content generated by touristsonline. This paper examines the digitalization of tourists’ heritage experience, analyses the impact ofsocial media and user generated content in the consumption of heritage sites, and discusses new formsof technologically mediated authenticity in tourism. Netnography and a constructive approach havebeen adopted for the examination of online communities and social networks. There are differenttypes of tourist generated content online. This study focuses on the review genre and examines apurposive sample of data collected from Tripadvisor which, with over 30 million contributions, is thelargest online community focusing on tourism and travel. Through a systematic analysis of tourists’narratives and socio-technical structures, this study assesses how technologies influence tourists’heritage experience. The research findings provide insights into the role that tourists’ online reviewsplay as mediators of the tourism experience and illustrate the features of an emerging virtual tourismculture.

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Ana María Munar

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