COMMENT: Instagram dawn of a new era for tourism promotion

Photographers capture the sunrise at Horsehead Rock, Bermagui, on Sunday, October 22. Picture: Ben Smyth
Photographers capture the sunrise at Horsehead Rock, Bermagui, on Sunday, October 22. Picture: Ben Smyth

Showcasing the best of what a region has to offer has long been the avenue to building a tourism economy.

However, never before has such huge reach been so readily within our grasp.

The upturn of Instagrammers and travel bloggers is bringing far flung destinations and photogenic tourist spots right into the hands and minds of anyone around the world who happens to have a smartphone.

Here in the Bega Valley Shire – or probably better tagged on social media as the #SapphireCoast – there are numerous photographers of all interests and skill levels. And why wouldn’t there be, with the abundance of natural beauty and wild experiences around every turn.

Among the shooters are the Sapphire Snappers, a small collective of friendly faces who have semi-regular gatherings to share favourite locations as well as tips on photography and posting to social media.

At the weekend, the small group made a weekend of it, with an open invite to a series of “Instameets” in Bermagui where the focus was not solely on the stunning coastlines, but also the social aspect.

The sunrise shoots at Blue Pool and Horsehead Rock were followed by coffees and a shared breakfast in town, while sunset at the Bermagui Harbour led to drinks and dinner at the Horse and Camel wine bar. The flow-on benefits of these gatherings go far beyond dollars spent at local cafes and accommodation though.

Snappers organiser Dave Rogers (@davey_rogers, 2557 followers) said a recent Instagram photo of his of a field of pink paper daisies at Tilba was picked up and shared by several other accounts, including the state’s premier tourism organisation Destination NSW (@visitnsw, 276,000 followers). Comments and love hearts (Instagram’s equivalent to the Facebook Like thumbs up) have been flooding in ever since – for Dave, but also for Mountain View Farm at Tilba where the photo was taken and which was tagged in the post.

We also hear a recent visit and images by two well-known Tasmanian Instagrammers resulted in a massive surge in inquiries to our own Sapphire Coast Tourism.

And there’s the power of Instagrammers – their ability to get locations, businesses, products and destinations in front of eyeballs around the world all with the power of a stunning photograph.

Some are even making a living from it, earning sponsors due to their following so as to travel the world and influence the destination decisions of others through social media imagery. How do I get that gig?