Paper Title
Tourist Expenses and Use of Social Media

The continuous growth of the tourism industry plays an important role in countries’ economic development. The number of international tourists is growing rapidly, and a large portion are independent tourists. For example, in China and in Israel independent tourists accounted for around 70 percent of all tourists in 2012. The characteristics of independent tourists differ from those of organized tourists. Independent tourists usually have more experience traveling abroad, know more about their destination and its culture, have a higher level of education and are looking for challenges and self-realization. Independent tourists have relatively higher expenses and therefore make a greater impact on the economy. For independent tourists, social media are a main source of information. These tourists use general sites such as Google or travel-oriented sites like TripAdvisor. Indeed, these sites rather than traditional tourism suppliers have become the most important source of information for independent tourists.The purpose of the current research is to identify the different factors influencing the level of expenses of independent tourists in Israel, and specifically to examine the effect of social media use on tourists’ expenses. The current research is based on a data set collected from 464 tourists at the conclusion of their visit to Israel in 2016. The results indicate that tourists who use social media before their trip spend more money during the trip. In addition, demographic data such as age and gender affect the level of expenses. Older tourists spend more money than younger tourists, and women spend less money than men. Tourists from the USA spend more money than tourists from other countries. The current study contributes to the existing literature by shedding light on the factors affecting level of expenses. This information could help policy makers identify the market segments that the destination should attract. Future research should test other destinations to see whether the same factors are important. In addition, future research is warranted to test higher and lower level of expenses separately. Keywords- independent tourist, level of satisfaction, expenses