Tourism, communication and photography on social media

Sharifah Syed Ahmad

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis investigates how social media has changed communication related to tourism and photography. Social media facilitates communication among individuals about various topics including tourism. Interest sites such as Flickr (photos) and TripAdvisor (travel) attract and bond members with common interests. Communications among individuals with strong, weak and latent ties assist destinations by creating product awareness and interest through word of mouth (WOM). Traditionally, WOM involves the spoken word, but social media expands WOM to written text and photos. The thesis examines social media through two research objectives. Firstly, it seeks to understand travel photography as WOM on social media. To identify reasons for individual travel photo posts, the research employed the Theory of Planned Behavior – well known for explaining individual behaviours. To examine destination photo posts, the research employed keyword searches for Islamic tourism on an interest site Flickr. The number of shared travel photos for the League of Arab States countries reflected the number of country's Muslims, tourists, Internet users and Internet hosts in each State. The content of photo images was examined by adapting an offline photo technique, Visitor-Employed Photography. Common Muslim images for the Arab League were mosques and women with headscarves. Secondly, this thesis argues that, with computer mediation, the message – exemplified by social media content photos – conveys social presence. The investigation adapted Visitor-Employed Photography and another offline analysis technique, the Q method, to analyse images and responses. Responses increased with the nearness of human images.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2011


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