Sentiment analysis is a burgeoning field that we can use to add a new dimension to the industry-wide conversation about overtourism.
Overtourism manifests itself differently in every locale, but most destinations recognize the importance of local sentiment in understanding the problem. To evaluate this aspect of overtourism, Skift Research constructed an index that analyzes the text of a large set of over 17,000 local media reports and measured the frequency of stories that indicate a negative press sentiment toward arriving tourists.
We launched this latest report last week in our Skift Research service, Natural Language Processing: Media Sentiment as an Indicator of Overtourism.
Our theory is that struggles with overtourism would show up in the form of negative stories reported in media outlets. By measuring the level of negative tourism stories reported in the local press, we aim to create an index that could indicate overtourism. Higher results on the index indicate that communities are struggling with the negative impact of overtourism.
While there can be no one all-encompassing metric to gauge overtourism, our measurement of local media sentiment adds new information to the conversation that was previously difficult to quantify.
Below is an excerpt from our Skift Research Report. Get the full report here to stay ahead of this trend.
Case Study: Negative Media Sentiment Toward Tourism in Iceland
We created an index to track negative media sentiment toward tourism in Iceland. The index is based on the frequency of stories published containing words that indicate tourism problems as a share of total articles published. Our theory is that struggles with overtourism will show up in the form of negative stories reported in media outlets. By measuring the level of negative tourism stories reported in the local press, we aim to create an index which can indicate overtourism. Higher results on the index indicate that communities are struggling with the negative impact of overtourism.
We tested this theory by comparing the sentiment data against tourist inputs in Iceland and found strong correlation between negative tourism sentiment and heavier tourist influx.
More details on how these were calculated are included in our methodology section.
For an in-depth case study in how media text analysis can track negative tourism sentiment we decided to focus on Iceland. Iceland makes a good example because it 1) is a widely recognized case in overtourism, 2) has very high standards for tourism data collection, and 3) has high-quality English language journalism. We collected all news articles published by three English-language Icelandic media publications: The Iceland Monitor, The Reykjavík Grapevine, and Iceland Review.
- The Iceland Monitor is the English-language sister of Morgunblaðið, which is the largest and most-read news website in Iceland. The Iceland Monitor had an average of 337 million monthly visitors over the last six months through February 2019 according to SimilarWeb. We collected the text of 7,755 articles published on The Iceland Monitor from January 2015 through March 2019.
- The Reykjavík Grapevine is by its description, the Icelandic tourist market’s most prevalent publication. It’s published in English 21 times a year; monthly during the off season; and biweekly during high season. It had an average of 345 million monthly visitors over the last six months through February 2019 according to SimilarWeb. We collected the text of 4,140 articles published on The Reykjavík Grapevine from January 2015 through March 2019.
- Iceland Review is the longest running magazine in Iceland, in continuous print since 1963, according to its website. It had an average of 253 million monthly visitors over the last six months through February 2019 according to SimilarWeb. We collected the text of 5,158 articles published on Iceland Review from February 2015 through March 2019.
Capturing Negative Sentiment
In sum, we collected 17,053 articles from January 2015 through March 2019. We then aggregated and analyzed the full text of each story to determine if they reported on a negative aspect of tourism, as per our methodology discussed elsewhere in this report. Finally, to reduce noise in the data, the time series was smoothed with a six-month moving average.
We began by examining each website independently, charting the share of negative tourist stories as a percentage of all published stories. The higher the result of this charting, the greater the level of overtourism being reported in that media outlet.
The Iceland Review, which publishes less frequently and is more focused on tourism, reports a higher share of such stories. The Iceland Monitor on the other hand, which has a greater focus on business and politics, has a lower share of overtourism stories.
While each source has its own baseline level of negative tourism sentiment, we find that they tend to exhibit similar overall trends. To us, this could indicate — though each has their own style — they are all still covering core underlying changes in sentiment and behavior.
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Photo Credit: The Blue Lagoon, pictured above, is one of Iceland's most popular tourist attractions. dconvertini / Flickr