Discovering National Parks Visitor Activities Using Geotagged Photos

Authors: Ruihong Huang*, Northern Arizona University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Tourism Geography
Keywords: geotagged photos, social media, space-time path, visitor activity, GIS, national park
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 25
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Visitor activity data is important information for management and planning of national parks and other tourism destinations. However, traditional methods for collecting individual activity data in outdoor recreation environments is faced with many challenges. Geotagged photos obtained from social media provides an economic and feasible solution for discovering visitor activities, especially in tracking visitor movements. This research collects geotagged photos taken within U.S. national parks during 2008 through 2019 and posted on Flickr. Information of photos include geographic coordinates, taken date and time, posted date and time, title and tags, as well as owner profile. A case study is conducted on three popular national parks: Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite National Park. First, the space-time paths of visitor daily activities each year are created from geotagged photos. From the space-time paths, flow direction and volume surfaces are generated to show visitor flows within each park. Furthermore, from the flow surfaces, the net flow directions of a set of specified locations can be derived. Moreover, based on the speed of movement derived from the space-time paths, photo tags, and other photo information, visitor activity types including hiking, rafting, driving, and air tour can be identified. In addition, a hexagonal grid of Photo-User-Days (PUD) can be computed to show visitor density in the parks of any time period or season. The paper also discusses other potentials and issues related to using geotagged photos obtained from social media for national park visitor. activity study.

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