These days we don’t need a plane ticket to see some exotic place; all we need to do is look at Instagram.
In fact, the amount of “likes” garnered by a destination on Instagram is increasingly a deciding factor in where users decide to vacation, according to a report by travel site Amadeus.
So what can one learn about a destination from just looking at Instagram? According to airport transfer company hoppa, plenty.
Hoppa recently released a report on how the world’s top destinations are perceived via the social media platform.
“It was quite a large team of us. It took just over a month for us to manually go through 50,000 photos,” says Daniel Boardman, hoppa’s head of search engine optimization.
His team analyzed the most “liked” photos, and what types of posts were most popular in each destination.
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How to get ‘likes’
In order, the destinations that received the most “likes” on Instagram are: Los Angeles, Bangkok, London, Taipei and Miami.
World-class cities like New York and Paris don’t even scratch the top five.
It’s a notably different list from that of most Instagrammed destinations (in order: New York, London, Paris, Dubai, Los Angeles).
Boardman says that’s most likely because of the subject matter posted from those particular hotspots.
“Fashion gets a lot of likes; particularly the [Yeezy Boost 350] Adidas shoes designed by Kanye West,” he says. “A lot of people took pictures of those shoes with the beach in the background, and they got a lot of ‘likes.’”
Brightly colored scenery and food were also all but guaranteed to get likes, he notes.
Destinations that could weave in all three of those types of pictures were most likely to get love.
Selfies, of course, are Instagram’s bread and butter.
In fact, the Amadeus report claims that a segment of tourists – which it terms “social capital seekers” – chooses its vacation based on which destinations offer the best selfie opportunities.
Unexpectedly, most Instagram selfies are snapped in London.
“I was quite surprised that London was best for selfies,” admits Boardman. “I thought somewhere like Los Angeles would take that mantle.”
Boardman theorizes that the plethora of iconic landmarks – from Big Ben to Buckingham Palace – has something to do with London’s selfie status.
“People coming to London would rather get out their selfie stick and take a photo in front of the landmark, as opposed to just take a picture of the landmark.”
Other big selfie destinations are Buenos Aires, Argentina and Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Hong Kong: Where the scene speaks for itself
On the flip side, Hong Kong is the destination that has the most posts of scenery without the selfies.
However, scenery isn’t the most “likable” feature on Instagram, says Boardman.
“Though Hong Kong was quite high in terms of ‘likes,’ it’s nowhere near the top. While it has all these beautiful photos of scenery and is a great looking place, that’s not what wows on Instagram,” he says.
Los Angeles: City of sex
What does wow Instagram users, unsurprisingly, are sexually suggestive pictures. The majority of risque shots, it turns out, are snapped in Los Angeles.
“Los Angeles has beach and bikinis and a lot of selfies taken there were geared toward showing off certain parts of the body,” Boardman says.
He adds that selfie sticks help in framing the raunchiest angles. No more are bedroom narcissists confined to the duckface pose.
Phuket: Eat well, take pics
Instagram users are obsessed with food porn, Boardman found.
The majority of delicious food pics were posted from Phuket, Thailand.
“If you look at the food category, it was mostly pictures from Southeast Asia – those countries have some of the most eye-catching cuisine,” says Boardman.
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Yes, Paris is for couples
Boardman also looked at which destinations featured the most shots of couples.
This time, the answer was obvious: Paris.
“Paris is seen as the number one romantic destination in the world,” says Boardman.
Unsurprisingly, many shots of couples are taken around the Eiffel Tower, or loved up in one of Paris’ romantic eateries.
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The most Instagrammed destinations in the world
1. New York City
5. Los Angeles
8. Las Vegas
The most ‘liked’ destinations in the world
1. Los Angeles
9. New York City
Design: Graphics by Aaron Darveniza, animations by Brad Purnell