VirtualTourist.com , the popular online travel research site and travel community, announced the addition of the 2.5 millionth photograph to its extensive database of travel reviews, tips and advice.

Photos found on VirtualTourist's online travel guides range from hotel rooms, recognizable sights and unusual attractions, to exteriors of hard-to-find places, street signs, restaurant menus and food, local culture and more. And unlike images found on other photo sharing websites, the images on VirtualTourist aren’t simply bulk uploads, but instead travel photographs linked to real travel tips and advice intended to help others plan and research trips.

Five million unique visitors went to VirtualTourist.com to research and plan upcoming trips and vacations in May, 2006, according to comScore Media Metrix World Wide data.

Photos round out VirtualTourist’s user-generated travel tips by adding an impartial view of the setting and surroundings. Among the VirtualTourist community there are expert photographers and advanced hobbyists, but the majority are just amateurs documenting their travels; as a result, their photos capture the scene as it actually exists, without professional equipment or lighting. Many photos on VirtualTourist also contain people, which lend a sense of scale. In a hotel brochure, for example, it can be hard to discern the size of the hotel room, pool or fitness area. But when there’s a person in the photo, it’s easier to get accurate idea of just how big or small a space actually is.

"Hired photographers can make any place look great because they can find the best angle. Take the pyramids in Egypt; promotional photos often give the impression that you’ll be way out in the desert on camels. But the fact is that the pyramids are on the outer edge of Cairo, with an urban backdrop of cityscape and smog. Photos on VirtualTourist capture that and paint a realistic image for fellow travelers, travelers who have no stake in embellishing or filtering the info they share" said Giampiero Ambrosi, General Manager of VirtualTourist. "Photos document a trip; but they also help and inspire other travelers."

In total, VirtualTourist’s database of travel information includes more than 1.3 million travel tips and 2.5 million photos on more than 25,000 worldwide destinations.

"There’s a joke among the VirtualTourist community that ‘You know you’re a die-hard VirtualTourist member when …’ and one of the qualifications is: ‘You carry a camera at all times, and at restaurants, you take a photo of your food before you take a bite,’" Ambrosi said. "VirtualTourist members make a big effort to document their travels so that they can share them. This has helped to develop a loyal, engaged, altruistic community that is focused on helping each other to travel smarter."

Related Link: VirtualTourist.com