GENEVA, SWITZERLAND –
The International Travel Marketing and Public Relations Council has announced that travel to places that don’t exist was up 50% in 2016 over 2015 levels.
Marna Gherbheartten, Director of the industry-sponsored trade association said that a variety of factors were at work to explain the difference. “The proliferation of image-editing software, and the proficiency of users in countries with low wage structures, has resulted in a marked increase of high-quality travel images available for use on travel sites everywhere. These highly unrealistic and heavily retouched photographs can help sites increase sales, often dramatically, to people who assume that the destination will bear some resemblance to what they are seeing online.”
While most responsible travel professionals are careful in their selection of photographs, travel sites like “blowyourmindtravel.com” and “unbelievabletraveldestinations.us” routinely use deserts, oceans, ferris wheels, the Eiffel Tower, and snow covered mountains in a single image.
Said Gary Rostoon, who writes for the blog Traveltodayandtomorrow.com, “if someone isn’t aware that the Sphynx is not going to be in the same location as London’s Big Ben, of course they are going to be easy prey for a whole host of online scams that are not travel-related. Still, it is heart-breaking when a couple travels thousands of miles from their home only to find out from their Moroccan tour guide that not only is there no Space Needle in Morocco, but they will not being going on a rocket trip into orbit either.
“I had one couple who had booked a previous trip from one of these sites, and they had been assured that their cruise ship was going to drive around Rome like a car once it was docked and special wheels were added,” said Ms. Gherbheartten. The captain had to spend 10 minutes calming them down and eventually offered them a 10% discount just so he could get back to work.”
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