The Rise of the Selfie Stick — Finding Economic Growth in the Most Unlikely of Places

There’s one item that seemed to dominate the gift-giving season this past year, and you probably either viewed it with contempt, excitement, or plain confusion: the Selfie Stick. What once began as a silly item distinctly used by Asian tourists alone is now one of the most popular items in the U.S., and experts are already looking at how one simple stick could affect the country’s entire tourism industry.

The Selfie Stick itself is a pretty basic concept — you attach your phone securely on the end of the pole, hold the pole at an upright angle, and capture a memorable photo of your face in front of some notable building or landmark. Everyone from neighborhood grandmothers to Beyonce has begun using these devices to take the perfectly angled selfie shot.

Now, however, the South Korean government has had to crack down on Selfie Sticks simply because there were so many flooding the market, and manufacturing an unregulated stick can land someone in prison for three years.

Despite many people noting the embarrassment — and possible offensiveness — of holding up a three-foot pole to take a picture of your own face in front of a national landmark or religious building, it’s entirely possible that the Selfie Stick could provide momentum for the trend of travelling by oneself.

In a culture that’s obsessed with social media sharing and photo documentation, it’s nearly just as embarrassing (or pointless) to go to a famous place and have a stranger take an awkward picture of you standing alone. Where your arm was once taking up an entire half of the camera lens, rendering your photo blurry and unattractive, the selfie stick can now provide travelers with a singular, albeit important, feature for traveling alone.

“The Selfie Stick could be used to promote all areas of transportation and tourism,” says Sheila Dodd, sales manager at Cardinal Buses. “I could see entire tourism packages built around the Selfie Stick through attracting a younger crowd to local area tourism destinations. Combined that with a hashtag and you could come with up #SelfieStickNYC or SelfieStickDC, etc. and tie it to local tourism.”

The Selfie Stick might not provide enough sales revenue to support an entire industry, it’s entirely possible that, for anywhere between five and 50 dollars, people can be convinced to re-discover the joys of traveling alone.

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