Posted: Thu 29th Jun 2023

Social media influencers paid to promote tourism in Swansea and Carmarthenshire

news.wales / newyddion.cymru
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Jun 29th, 2023

Paying accommodation costs for visiting journalists, social media influencers and bloggers in return for travel articles is a good way of promoting the area, say Swansea and Carmarthenshire councils. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The two authorities have also covered some of the visitors’ food and drink costs. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The expenditure involved is small – and newspaper journalists have for decades written travel pieces in return for a free trip. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Now bloggers and social media influencers are very much part of the media landscape. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In a response to a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Swansea Council said it spent £1,569 accommodating journalists and £709 on their food and drink costs in 2022-23. The previous year the figures were £2,294 and £766. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In 2019-20 – the year before the Covid pandemic – the accommodation and food and drink costs were £2,049 and £1,153 respectively. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The visitor economy is said to be worth nearly £480 million a year in Swansea and just over £410 million in Carmarthenshire, providing jobs and supporting local businesses. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Swansea Council said coverage from journalists was essential for the promotion of the area, and that its tourism team worked closely with local marketing partners. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“These include accommodation providers, restaurants, attractions and activity operators etc, all of whom provide invaluable support in enabling this activity to take place on a partnership basis,” it said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The authority said it received coverage from The Sun, regional newspaper Express and Star, bloggers such as Simple Explorer and Charlie on Travel, and influencers such as Lucy Gosling, among others. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Carmarthenshire Council spent £1,448 on journalist accommodation and £170 on their food and drink costs in 2022-23, but none the previous year. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

In 2019-20 the accommodation and food and drink costs were £640 and £262 respectively. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The council said publications it worked with in 2022-23 included The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, and magazines, Women’s Own and Delicious. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Trade union, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), said press travel trips had been a feature in journalism for many years, although one exception was travel expert Simon Calder – the Independent’s travel correspondent – who had carved a successful niche as the man who pays his way. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said news outlets should be clear if and when travel companies provided free accommodation and travel, and that its members were bound by a code which, among other things, included a requirement to resist any inducement to influence or distort information. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“They should be able to produce professional, impartial travel reports,” she said. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The median salary for newspaper and magazine journalists was £33,149 in 2022, according to Office for National Stastic figures. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​



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