For Locals Only? The Ethical Dilemma of Travel Bloggers

July 20, 2017 1 Comments

Should local spots be for locals only? Or for those lucky enough to stumble upon them on their own? Should we post about “secret” spots shared with us by locals on our blogs? What are the repercussions of sharing these private spots online for thousands of readers to see? These are the questions I asked myself recently when a local shared their secret spot with me. 

Every serious traveler wishes to find the best secluded, secret or local spot when traveling. However, I think that this creates an ethical dilemma for travel bloggers.

Recently, while visiting Charleston I made a new friend who told me all about her “secret beach”. After I visited the beach I was so excited to share this gem with my readers. I couldn’t believe that there was a beach in Charleston that was visited by so few people! I thanked my friend for sharing her secret with me and told her how much I loved it. She then asked me not to share its location with anyone because she didn’t want it to become overrun with tourists.

As a travel blogger this created a dilemma for me. I asked myself: Where should my loyalties lie? To my readers? To my new friend? Is it ethical to promote a place that is free from most of the tourist industry if locals ask you not to? I personally feel that the dynamics of a location could change if flocks of tourists start showing up.

Would tourists take away from the magic of the secret beach? Is the beach special because so few people stumble upon it? I think the answer to both of these questions is yes.

I have decided that, for me personally, it is not ethical to profit off of a local’s welcoming spirit or generosity.

After careful consideration, I decided not to promote or blog about the location of the secret beach. My friend’s trust is more important to me than having the best blog post ever. I also did not want this friend to feel like she had been used for my own personal gain. I have decided that, for me personally, it is not ethical to profit off of a local’s welcoming spirit or generosity.

I always strive to share unique and original content with my readers, including spectacular undiscovered travel spots. However, I will not do so at the expense of my integrity. By this, I mean that I will not betray the trust of someone who has shared a special place with me if they ask me to keep it to myself.

Have you ever encountered a situation like this? What would you do if a local asked you not to share a local spot with others?

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I totally agree with your decision. Sometimes, you just have to find your own “special” spot!