This study’s objective is to map how the audience creates an image about a tourism destination through user-generated content. Literature has stated that UGC aids at promoting a tourism destination and generates awareness for various services or local problems (De Bruyn & Lilien, 2008). The present research challenges the idea that dark tourism creates a negative image for a destination. Therefore, the researcher has chosen the example of Colombia to analyze how dark tourism can change positively tourists’ perceptions about a destination. For this study, foreign traveler’s reviews from TripAdvisor were analyzed in order to respond to the research question: How does the portrayal in social media of “negative tourist assets” affect the image of countries – specifically, how does the portrayal of drug tourism in social media affects the image of Colombia among foreign tourists? The criteria for choosing the reviews was that they had to be written by foreign tourists, due to different perspective tourists might have about the culture and current situation in Colombia. For this study, thematic analysis was chosen as analysis method of the dataset. The main findings of this study exposed that dark tourism can have a positive impact over a tourism destination because social media and especially UGC, have a great impact on tourists’ decisions when choosing a destination to travel to. In some cases, user-generated-content has become a great asset to erase the negative stigma of a country that has been known to have a high level of violence. Therefore, making tourists curious to visit the places they have seen in series such as “Narcos” and interact with locals. By studying the effect of narco-tours in Medellin, Colombia over tourists’ perceptions about the country, this study showsthat travelers enjoy learning about the dark part of Colombia’s history. According to the results from the analysis, tourists consider that by educating themselves about what happened in the recent history of Colombia, such events can be avoided in the future. Moreover, the country is seen as prosperous and with a positive look over the future. An identified gap in the tourism industry and poorly studied is how dark tourism influences people's perceptions about the destination and if the UGC helps at changing opinions. It is important to know how dark tourism influences tourists’ perceptions about a destination because, marketing and governmental bodies can use travelers’ feedback to improve their tourism in the area.

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Uribe Sandoval, A.
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Cîntăreţu, G.V. Cintaretu. (2019, October 10). Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) effects on tourists’ perceptionstowards a destination The case study of Colombia and dark tourism. Media & Business. Retrieved from