New research sheds light on the surprising ways dating apps are used for tourism

Categories: Research, School of Health and Society

New research, which is the first study of its kind to look at the relationship between dating app Grindr and tourism, has uncovered some of the surprising ways that both visitors and locals use apps to make the most of travelling to new cities.

The academic paper by Dr Rachel Katz, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Health and Society at the University of Salford, challenges the idea that Grindr is used mainly for casual sex, instead highlighting the ways that tourists use the app to get information about the location they are visiting, from restaurant recommendations to developing a deeper cultural understanding of the place, sometimes with a view to moving there longer-term.

The study, based on research Rachel conducted as part of her PhD at the University of Manchester and published in the leading digital research journal Social Media + Society, focusses on the social implications of Grindr use for gay tourism, tourist-local relationships, and digitally mediated social life.  

Rachel’s findings also show how Grindr tourism practices are seen as mutually beneficial by tourists, locals, and immigrants. Grindr tourism contributes to tourists’ embedded learning about travel destinations, immigrants’ acclimation and friendship networks, and locals’ self-ascribed cosmopolitan, multicultural identities.  

The research also addressed wider issues around sexuality, digital communication, migration movements, ethnicity, and the economic bodies that support large-scale tourism. 

Rachel said: “My findings on Grindr tourism reveal that travel practices among gay tourists have shifted away from traditional travel institutions such as group package tours toward more individualised, mobile, and privatised dating app tourism. This may offer insights for tech companies, the tourism industry, scholars, and individuals navigating the evolving ways dating apps affect other areas of social life.”

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