Greater attention is now being given to the increasing popularity of the Internet as a communication tool, particularly social media and other forms of user-generated content (UGC). Social media websites, representing various forms of UGC, are also specifically gaining considerable attention from tourists and potential tourists. Now, tourists have the option of seeking information from “new media,” such as the Internet and social media, as well as traditional media, including films, television, books, magazines, and newspapers. Whereas both new and traditional media will play key roles in influencing the destination choices of tourists, research must also consider the influence of social groups that then translates through word of mouth (WOM). The youth and student travel market is a valuable segment of the overall tourism market, although it is often dismissed or ignored by tourism operators as youth tourists are wrongly perceived as having little financial value. This is, perhaps, because youth and student tourists are generally perceived as having a low income, and thus little disposable income to contribute towards travel. This research addresses this lack of attention by examining and exploring the international destination choice influencers of students with regard to peer and social pressure, traditional WOM, online social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and other UGC websites. The research used a qualitative, focus group study strategy. The results found that all 24 university student participants indicated some level of apprehension about the reliability of information found on the Internet and social media in particular, and there were also varying degrees of reluctance to utilize social media as a credible destination information source. This contradicts previous research suggesting young people such as university students do not generally show concern about the credibility of information found in social media.
Davies, R & Cairncross, G 2013, 'Student tourism and destination choice: exploring the influence of traditional, new, and social media: an Australian case study', Tourism Culture & Communication, vol. 13, no. 1, pp. 29-42.
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