More than half of respondents said online harassment negatively impacted their overall travel experiences
WayAway survey sheds light on the impact of online harassment on travellers
Travel metasearch website WayAway has revealed the findings of its recent survey on online harassment faced by travellers.
The survey revealed that 36% of travellers who are active social media users have encountered some form of online harassment while exploring new destinations.
This issue seems to disproportionately affect women, with 51% reporting online harassment.
70% of these women who reported harassment of some kind received unsolicited, sexually explicit photographs.
Forms of harassment aren't limited to explicit photographs, however. The survey showed that many travellers had faced persistent attempts from strangers trying to get acquainted or meet up, constituting 51% of harassment instances.
Others reported receiving sexually explicit messages or comments, making up 39% of the cases.
It found that 54% of the respondents who reported abuse stated that such experiences had a negative impact on their overall travel experiences.
While women face harassment more frequently, men who were harassed reported feeling more deeply affected.
Of those reporting an incident, 21% of men said that online harassment had completely ruined their travel experience, compared to just 11% of women.
Fear is said to intensify the experience, over half of the respondents (53%) expressed concerns that online harassment could escalate to offline stalking or physical harm.
50% said the vulnerability of being in a foreign country and the potential unresponsiveness of local law enforcement.
In attempts to safeguard themselves, travellers experiencing situations like these resort to different methods.
Nearly half adjust their phone's location settings, 27% file a complaint with social media platforms or app developers, 18% update their marital status on social platforms, and a mere 15% report incidents to local authorities.
Janis Dzenis, director of PR of WayAway, said: “Considering these startling statistics, we urge social media platforms to tighten their reporting systems and initiate prompt action against harassers.
"Law enforcement agencies are also encouraged to provide efficient assistance to tourists, regardless of nationality, gender, sexual orientation or identity in every respect to ensure a safe environment for all.
"Furthermore, travel service providers and sellers must be explicit in their policies, refusing service to those found engaging in online harassment and even expelling people once in destination if they do this (as would happen for most other crimes).”
WayAway suggests that travellers maintain stringent privacy settings, report all incidents of harassment, share resources within the travel community, and choose platforms committed to user safety.
It said: "This multi-pronged approach is vital to curb online harassment and ensure a more secure travel experience for all."