The Effect of Social Media on Destination Image Perception of University Students: The Case of Lavender Tourism

Aşıroğlu B., Çuhadar M.

Türk Turizm Araştırmaları Dergisi, vol.5, no.2, pp.925-945, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Today, with the development of web-based digital technologies and the increase in the number of users, social media platforms that allow individuals to share their travel experiences in various touristic regions, cities, towns-villages and businesses have reached a popular position. While individuals are mostly in the behavior of searching for information on the internet before vacation and travel, they tend to share their holiday-travel experiences on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and tourism and travel portals such as Tripadvisor during and after travel. With the posts made, a positive or negative impression is formed in the minds of the people about the traveled region. As a result of positive impressions, interest in the destination in question increases and travels are made. In this study, the effect of social media on the destination image perception is investigated. The lavender gardens of Kuyucak within the borders of Isparta province, which have become popular in recent years, especially thanks to the posts on social media, have been chosen as the field of application. Within the scope of the study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 students who studied at associate, undergraduate and graduate levels in different academic units of Süleyman Demirel University and visited Kuyucak Lavender gardens. As a result of the study, before and after the visits of university students to lavender fields in Kuyucak Village of Keçiborlu district of Isparta province, their perceptions about this region were analyzed and its effects were revealed. In addition, the study also sought answers to the questions of how effective social media channels are in ensuring the recognition of the destination in question and what can be done to increase this effect. According to the research findings, the region where lavender gardens are located has a generally positive impression on the participants. It has been determined that social media channels have an important role in forming this impression and making it one of the favorite travel routes of the region.