Sponsored travel content from influencers on platforms like Instagram and YouTube has started to rebound after hitting rock bottom in April

  • The amount of travel and tourism sponsored content from influencers has rebounded by 34% since bottoming out in April, according to a recent report from Izea, an influencer-marketing tech company.
  • Across the travel and tourism industry, sponsored content has been steadily increasing over the course of the last few months, but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
  • While travel content has begun to make a comeback, influencers are still at the center of several controversies when it comes to sharing travel-focused posts and content that features them not following social-distancing guidelines.
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Travel is still out of the picture for many Americans as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and affect millions of people.

But for some influencers, sponsored content opportunities related to tourism and travel are rebounding after hitting rock bottom in April, according to a recent report from Izea, an influencer-marketing tech company.

In the first few months of the pandemic, many travel-focused influencers saw their trips, sponsorships, and brand deals canceled or postponed. Their careers faced new unknowns and some creators pivoted to at-home content categories, such as fitness, cooking, and lifestyle.

"I focus on luxury travel, and that is definitely not what people were thinking about in mid-to-late March and in all of April," influencer Christina Vidal told Business Insider in May. 

But as the months have passed, travel has slowly picked back up (although it's still well below pre-pandemic rates) as some restrictions are eased. On August 6, the US State Department lifted its "do not travel" advisory, which had encouraged citizens to avoid international travel since March 19. 

As more cities navigate reopening this summer, travel and tourism brands are looking to influencers to ease customers back in through social-media marketing. That has meant an increase in sponsored content.

According to the Izea report, the amount of travel and tourism sponsored content had increased 34% in July from its low in April (which was down 66% from March). The report looked at over 520 million pieces of social content from over 4.5 million influencers between August 2019 to July 2020.

Here is the full chart from Izea:

Izea also said that within the travel and tourism sector, hotels were seeing "the largest increase in sponsored content volume since hitting bottom" in April and had seen an increase in engagement rates, too.

Airline content, however, had lagged, and also seen a spike in "negative sentiment" around its shared posts.

Influencers have been at the center of several controversies for promoting travel and not following social-distancing guidelines

But the increase in travel content from influencers has also brought controversy.

In June, Clubhouse BH (a TikTok influencer group based in California) launched a "travel house" named Clubhouse Explore with a three-part video series documenting a trip of 16 influencers to Tulum, Mexico.

"Have y'all forgot about the pandemic?" one user commented on a Clubhouse Instagram post.

"So are influencers like immune to coronavirus?" another commenter wrote on one of its YouTube vlogs.

Clubhouse manager Chris Young said that one fitness brand decided to not renew a contract with a Clubhouse influencer after the trip, though he said he didn't consider the trip a mistake.

Other travel influencers like Sandra Dandashy (@askaconcierge on Instagram) have also continued to travel and share content on their feeds.

"Some people think it's too soon to travel; others question if it's ethical to act like all is normal when things are not normal," Dandashy told Business Insider earlier this month. "But generally, I find that people are really looking to those individuals who are traveling now to get a sense for what it's like."

Besides traveling, some influencers have been criticized for throwing and attending parties in Los Angeles and not following social-distancing guidelines.

For more about how the influencer marketing industry is evolving as a result of the pandemic, read these Business Insider stories:

  • Travel Instagram influencers are finding new ways to earn money with the industry frozen and are moving into categories like food and fitness
  • How the coronavirus is changing the influencer business, according to marketers and top Instagram and YouTube stars
  • Houseplant sales are booming and so are 'plantfluencers,' the social-media creators sharing plant tips, products, and content

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