Map of where toursists flock

Bluemoon Interactive, a small codeshop, maps touristiness, based on uploads to Panoramio, a site where people share photos of their favorite places. Yellow indicates high touristiness, red is medium touristiness, and blue is low touristiness.

Europe is much brighter than the rest of the world. The coasts of the US has got some brightness, along with Japan and some of the coasts of South America.

The question is are we really seeing levels of tourism, or are we looking at who uses Panoramio? I’m inclined to say the latter, simply because all of Europe is so crazy bright.

[via Information is Beautiful]


  • topometropolis May 25, 2010 at 8:08 am

    According to the World Tourism Organization (a UN agency), the top destinations for international tourists are (in order): France, US, Spain, China, Italy, UK, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, and Mexico. In fact, they estimate that some 52% of all international tourist arrivals are to Europe, which is consistent with the picture.

    OTOH, I don’t think Japan gets all that many tourists, and it’s pretty bright as well. Perhaps the data best tracts the home towns of world tourists, since those folks probably also upload a lot of local pictures in addition the ones from trips abroad. The top originating countries for international tourists are (in order of money spent): Germany, US, UK, China, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia, Netherlands

  • I don’t think there are so many people going to Switzerland and Austria (with all the respect to the people living there)

  • Toursists! Tricksy, nasty toursists! We hates them, precious.

  • You’re right to question what the data actually mean. I can’t believe that Iceland has as many tourists as the map seems to imply.

    As @topometropolis the data is best interpreted in light of the actual visitor numbers.

  • It’s hard to get only “touristiness” from this map for reasons already pointed out, but it’s further complicated by the fact that “touristiness” is left completely undefined and the methods (“the analysis takes into account how many photos and by how many authors there are in a given area”) are not well explained. But it looks nice, and it’s interesting to see where all the photos are coming from.

    The Mercator projection of Google Maps is pretty unfortunate, though, and precludes accurate comparisons of different parts of the world.

  • The main problem with the data (in addition to the Panoramio-user-location bias you mentioned) is that he doesn’t control for population density; Really the Grand Canyon should jump out more because nearly nobody lives there but many tourists visit it, while London and surrounding areas may appear quite brightly simply because many people live there.

    He’s getting density of Panoramio users more than “touristiness”.

  • Europeans get more vacation time, which makes Europe an excellent tourist destination.

  • Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually *showed* New Zealand on their map?

  • more tourists in Europe than in the USA strange.

  • If Panoramio usage is anything like that of Flickr….I would question the “touristiness” of the photos based on my observation that the Flickr accounts I frequently check in on (especially frequent uploaders) predominately feature photos taken in the vicinity of where the accountholder lives. To get true tourestiness they could, say, select photos taken more than “X” miles from the account holder’s indicated place of residence.

  • Although fantastic to look at, I bet it’s misleading in some important ways. For one, the color scaling may be logarithmic, and we don’t know if there’s an upper bound. Because San Francisco is geographically small, for example, you can’t really tell if there are 100x more shots in SF than in all of the rest of Northern California. It looks like the US has a lower number of photos than, anywhere in Europe–and that may be true–but then all of the Panoramio photos in the US may be highly concentrated.

    P.S. Am I the only one who gets frustrated looking at Panaramio, that people don’t spend the time to place their photos accurately. I’ve seen photos be hundreds of meters off, and what’s the use of that?

  • By the look of the map, it’s probably defining “tourist” as someone leaving their home-nation and going to another nation. In which case of _course_ Europe will be significantly higher – bunch of tiny nations with open relations and next to no borders.

    As to the sheer quantity, I wonder what would happen if the USA were distorted & scaled to fit in the same shape as Europe. Without knowing the scale / data, it’s basically impossible to know :\

  • I would say it more likely a heatmap of geographic attention servervly biased by local service preferences panoramio vs flickr et al.

    See Hotmap: Looking at Geographic Attention by Danyel Fisher published back in 2007 for a deeper analytic insight into that topic