Spatial Movement and Travel Network in Astro-tourism: Evidence from Social Media during 2017 Eclipse

Authors: Shihan Ma*, University of Florida
Topics: Tourism Geography, Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Recreational and Sport Geography
Keywords: Solar eclipse, astro-tourism, geospatial analysis, travel flow, social media
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Congressional A, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

A recently found popularity in star-gazing, rebranded by the tourism industry as astro-tourism, is leading amateur astronomers to remote locations with clear skies and low light pollution. Apart from the regular night sky watching, the tourists are increasingly flock to locations where low-frequency astronomy events are observable. In this respect, the 2017 full solar eclipse, visible only in a 110-km belt located in the US, attracted estimated 50,000 international tourists and many more domestic travelers (Travel Weekly, 2018). The academic community paid little attention to this phenomenon (Cater, 2010; Iwaniszewski, 2015; Matos, 2017) with no data on this long-distance travel. We use social media data as a proxy to monitor tourists’ movement, spatial usage, destination attractions and travel patterns within the events, hopefully to provide some valuable insights to understanding such tourism trend. This study mainly focuses on the following research questions:
Where are the most popular destination for the 2017 eclipse observations?
Where are the origins of astro-tourists?
What are the movement patterns travel networks of these travelers?

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