Wikipedia edits to pages can boost city tourist revenue by up to £100,000, study finds

Minor edits to the Wikipedia pages of small cities can boost tourism revenue by up to £100,000, new research has revealed.

Economists from the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Italy found that adding extra paragraphs of information and high-quality photos to the Wikipedia pages of randomly-selected Spanish cities significantly increased tourist interest in the areas.

The immediate effect demonstrates the remarkable reach and influence of the free online encyclopedia, which was co-founded by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001.

Simply adding two paragraphs of text and one photograph increased the number of nights booked by tourists in the city by around 9 per cent during tourist season, according to the Guardian.

In some instances, the increase was even larger, the report’s authors noted.

NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 6, 2019: An illustration shows the logo of the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia. Kirill Kukhmar/TASS (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)
Wikipedia was founded in 2001 (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\\TASS via Getty)

Online tourism boom

Tweaking the Wikipedia pages of cities with barely any information could increase the number of visits by around one third.

“If we extend this to the entire tourism industry, the impact is large,” said Marit Hinnosaar, Toomas Hinnosaar and Michael Kumme, the study’s authors. “Its impact could be in billions of euros.”

However, the experiment ran into difficulty when a senior editor on the Dutch version of Wikipedia noticed the edits to Dutch city pages and removed them within 24 hours.

The edits fell under the remit of commercial editing, which is banned by the site. Other edits made in French, German and Italian were not taken down.

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Self-policing edits

Wikipedia can be modified and edited by anyone, meaning it is largely maintained by an army of online volunteers. Although more than 1,000 administrators monitor pages for obvious mistruths and vandalism, the site has been criticised for inaccuracy.

It was recently revealed that the majority of the articles on the Scots Wikipedia were written by an American teenager who is not fluent in the language.

Tens of thousands of articles on subjects ranging from Robert Burns to Bitcoin were created or edited by the user at a rate of around nine a day, according to an investigation originally published on Reddit.

However, the user’s command of Scots is easily found to be lacking by native speakers of the language, which began to diverge from northern dialects of English in the first half of the last millennium.

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