Asserting the role of ‘influencers’ in tourism irks many on social media

March 29, 2019 - 1:47 PM
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Dapa, Siargao
View of an area in Siargao taken from Circumferential Road in Dapa. (Dale de Vera via Unsplash)

The assertion that “influencers” have a significant role to local tourism, particularly in Siargao, a popular beach destination in Surigao del Norte, did not sit well with many people on social media.

This development came after White Banana Beach Club, a beach resort in Siargao, called supposed “influencers” who only collaborate for free accommodation and services.

Lance de Ocampo, a YouTube content creator, said through Instagram stories that the island will not be “appreciated” if not for those who have a similar line of work.

“Siargao will not be as appreciated as it is now if not of the so-called influencers’ breathtaking and well-curated Instagram photo,” part of his post read.

De Ocampo also shared an Instagram Story graphic commenting on the resort’s announcement. Some users were able to take a screenshot of it before it expired.

Following the flak online, De Ocampo posted a lengthy apology on Twitter and expressed that people took his message out of context.

“To clear things up, like what I said, I didn’t mean to credit Siargao’s tourism on influencers, I just meant that one factor of Siargao’s growing popularity is because of social media,” part of his statement said.

“People only read a part of the whole story I was trying to convey and almost everything that I said was taken out of context. And that being said, I would like to apologize for my opinion that sparked misrepresentation and conflict on what influencers do in general,” he added.

He perceived that White Banana Beach Club’s post was “a hasty generalization” that bloggers only rely on free passes, food and accommodation.

He also appealed for people to spare his family, friends and loved ones from the negative comments.

“I hope you stop attacking matters that aren’t part of the issue. Don’t attack my family, friends or the people close to me,” he said.

The club made a clarification on the same day that it is against “freeloaders,” not influencers whom it made collaborations with its team in the past.

“There are real influencers, that in case we will contact them and pay or offer something. But look, they’ve never contacted us, as they don’t need us. We need them,” its post said.

Two cents on influencer tag

Bela Padilla and Bianca Gonzalez criticized De Ocampo’s assertion on Twitter without naming him.

Padilla said that people go to Siargao because the inherent beauty of the place and not because of someone else’s social media posts.

“It’s soooo sad that you felt the need to take credit for a place so beautiful to begin with and would be perfectly fine with or without you,” she said.

Meanwhile, Gonzales explained in a thread that everyone is capable of influencing others and should not be a “license” to feel entitled.

“Simple lang.. pag binigyan ka ng free service or free product, magpasalamat. Pero hintayin na sila ang magbigay, ‘wag ikaw ang mag-demand na bigyan ka. Kung gusto mo, bayaran please. Lumugar,” she said.

“By the way, this isn’t shade. This is a reminder for all of us who might at times feel entitled to demand because of this new social media “influencer” culture,” she added.

Others also pointed out that government’s tourism campaigns have already been marketing Siargao as a destination more than a decade ago.