Where are the tourists?

A project to map photos posted to Flickr has revealed an ugly truth for the Twin Cities: It’s not much of a tourist destination.

Eric Fischer used geotagging to document pictures taken in cities around the world by locals vs. pictures taken by tourists. He’s posted the result for Minneapolis. Blue is pictures taken by locals, red — if you can find any — indicates a picture of a location taken by a tourist (or at least a non-local).


The Walker, Mall of America, and Minnehaha Falls are the most-often-photographed areas of the cities.

Find Fischer’s set of city images here.

(Photo: Eric Fischer)

  • John P.

    I don’t think I care! It seems to me that tourism mostly generates low paying jobs. To succeed as a tourist destination, you need “attractions” which the locals usually stay away from.

    I am a lot more concerned about what kind of a place this is to settle down and live. That requires good schools, transportation, entertainment, and the availability of good stable jobs. That’s what matters.

  • kennedy

    Could it also be that tourists come here to get away from the bustle? For some, putting away the cell phone and other gadgets makes for a better vacation.

  • Noelle

    I question the use of geotagging as a source. Maybe I’m one of the lazier Flickr users, but I never geotag my photos.

  • http://www.skyseastone.net/jvstin/ Paul W

    I take a fair amount of pictures and don’t bother with geotagging.

  • Heather

    Shoot! I don’t even bother with Flickr!

  • JackU

    I only have my experience as a volunteer at the Science Museum to go by but we see a fair number of “out of town” visitors, particularly during the peek vacation seasons.

    But the things you mention, The Walker (most likely the Sculpture Garden and specifically Spoon Bridge and Cherry), the Mall of America and the falls are the kind of places people will take pictures of. I suspect as some of the Midwest Baseball faithful make the pilgrimage to Target Field it will also show up more.

    Many of the exhibits we’ve had at SMM recently that people might post pictures of they can’t. (Titanic, Dead Sea Scrolls, Star Wars, Body Worlds) These exhibits have prohibitions on taking pictures so it would be difficult for people to “flickr” those visits.

  • tired

    I can’t stand it, The Mall of America as a tourist destination.

  • Momkat

    A couple years ago, i was asked to take a visitor on a Twin Cities tour. I took her to the Walker, the Creek, the Falls, Summit Avenue, etc. What she loved, and hopped out to take a picture, was the Mary Tyler Moore statue downtown Minneapolis. You never know about those tourists.