Tourism is classically regarded as travelling for recreation, although this definition has been expanded in recent years to include any travel outside of one's normal working or living area, from daytrips to overseas holidays.

Tourism has become a multi-billion pound international industry, on which many national economies are now heavily reliant. In developed countries (source countries) it is now growing at a rate considerably faster than average annual growth levels.

The term tourism is sometimes used pejoratively, implying a shallow interest in the societies and natural wonders that the tourist visits.

1 Prerequisite factors

2 History

3 Recent developments

4 Special forms of tourism

5 Travel guides

6 Tourism in specific countries

7 See also

8 External links

Table of contents

Prerequisite factors

"Tourism", like any other form of economic activity, occurs when the essential parameters come together to make it happen. In this case there are three such parameters:

Individually, sufficient health is also a condition, and of course the inclination to travel. Furthermore, in some countries there are or have been legal restrictions on travelling, especially abroad.


Wealthy people have always travelled to distant parts of the world, not incidentally for some other purpose, but as an end in itself: to see great buildings or other works of art; to learn new languages; or to taste new cuisine.

While tourism dates back into history, the terms tourist and tourism were first used as official terms in 1937 by the League of Nations. Tourism was defined as people travelling abroad for periods of over 24 h.

The Grand Tour

The word tour gained common acceptance in the 18th century, when the Grand Tour of Europe became part of the upbringing of the educated and wealthy British nobleman or cultured gentleman. Grand tours were taken in particular by young people to "complete" their education. They travelled all over Europe, but notably to places of cultural and aesthetic interest, such as Rome, Tuscany and the Alps.

The British Aristocracy were particularly keen on the Grand Tour, using the occasion to gather art treasures from all over Europe to add to their collections. The volume of art treasures being moved to Britain in this way was unequalled anywhere else in Europe, and explains the richness of many private and public collections in Britain today. Yet tourism in those days, aimed essentially at the very top of the social ladder and at the well educated, was fundamentally a cultural activity. These first tourists, though undertaking their Grand Tour, were more travellers than tourists.

Most major British artists of the eighteenth century did the "Grand Tour", as did their great European contemporaries such as Claude Lorrain. Classical architecture, literature and art have always drawn visitors to Rome, Naples, Florence.

The Romantic movement (inspired throughout Europe by the English poets William Blake and Lord Byron, among others), extended this to Gothic countryside, the Alps, fast flowing rivers, mountain gorges, etc.

Health tourism & leisure travel

It was not until the 19th century that cultural tourism developed into leisure and health tourism. Some English travellers, after visiting the warm lands of the South of Europe, decided to stay there either for the cold season or for the rest of their lives. Others began to visit places with health-giving mineral waters, in order to relieve a whole variety of diseases from gout to liver disorders and bronchitis.

Leisure Travel was a British invention due to sociological factors. Britain was the first European country to industrialize, and the industrial society was the first society to offer time for leisure to a growing number of people. Not initially the working masses, but the owners of the machinery of production, the economic oligarchy, the factory owners, the traders, the new middle class.

The British origin of this new industry is reflected in many place names. At Nice, one of the first and most well established holiday resorts on the French Riviera, the long esplanade along the sea front is known to this day as the Promenade des Anglais; and in many other historic resorts in continental Europe, old well-established palace hotels have names like the Hotel Bristol, Hotel Carlton or Hotel Majestic - reflecting the dominance of English customers to whom these resorts catered in the early years.

Winter tourism
Even winter sports were largely invented by the British leisured classes initially at the Swiss village of Zermatt (Valais) (year?) and / or St Moritz in 1864.

Until the first tourists appeared, the Swiss just thought of the long snowy winter as being a time when the best thing to do was to stay indoors and make cuckoo clocks or other small mechanical items.

The first packaged winter sports holidays (vacations) followed in 1903, to Adelboden, also in Switzerland.

Organized sport was already well established in Britain long before it reached other countries. The vocabulary of sport bears witness to this: rugby, football, and boxing all originated in Britain, and even Tennis, originally a French sport, was formalized and codified by the British, who hosted the first national championship in the nineteenth century, at Wimbledon. Winter sports were a natural answer for a leisured class looking for amusement during the coldest season.

Mass tourism

Mass tourism did not really begin to develop until two things occurred.
a) improvements in communications allowed the transport of large numbers of people in a short space of time to places of leisure interest, and
b) greater numbers of people began to enjoy the benefits of leisure time. The biggest development of all was the invention of the railways, which brought many of Britain's seaside towns within easy distance of Britain's large urban centres.

The father of modern mass tourism was Thomas Cook who, on 5 July 1841, organized the first package tour in history, by chartering a train to take a group of temperance campaigners from Leicester to a rally in Loughborough, some twenty miles away. Cook immediately saw the potential for business development in the sector, and became the world's first tour operator.

He was soon followed by others, with the result that the tourist industry developed rapidly in early Victorian Britain. Initially it was supported by the growing middle classes, who had time off from their work, and who could afford the luxury of travel and possibly even staying for periods of time in boarding houses.

However, the Bank Holiday Act 1871 introduced, for the first time, a statutory right for workers to take holidays, even if they were not paid at the time. As an aside, in the UK there is still no obligation to pay staff who do not work on public holidays.

The combination of short holiday periods, travel facilities and distances meant that the first holiday resorts to develop in Britain were towns on the seaside, situated as close as possible to the growing industrial conurbations.

For those in the industrial north, there were Blackpool in Lancashire, and Scarborough in (Yorkshire). For those in the Midlands, there were Weston-super-Mare in Somerset and Skegness in Lincolnshire, for those in London there were Southend-on-Sea, Broadstairs, Brighton, Eastbourne, and a whole collection of other lesser known places.

In travelling to the coast, the population was following in the steps of Royalty. King George III is widely acknowledged as popularising the seaside holiday, due to his regular visits to Weymouth when in poor health.

For a century, domestic tourism was the norm, with foreign travel being reserved, as before, for the rich or the culturally curious. A minority of resorts, such as Bath, Harrogate and Matlock, emerged inland. After World War II holiday villages such as Butlins and Pontins emerged, but their popularity waned with the rise of package tours and the increasing comforts to which visitors became accustomed at home. Towards the end of the 20th century the market was revived by the upmarket inland resorts of Dutch company Centre Parcs.

Other phenomena that helped develop the travel industry were paid holidays:

  • 1.5 million manual workers in Britain had paid holidays by 1925
  • 11 million by 1939 (30% of the population in families with paid holidays)

Outside Britain

Similar processes occurred in other countries, though at a slower rate, given that nineteenth century Britain was far ahead of any other nation in the world in the process of industrialisation.

In the USA, the first great seaside resort, in the European style, was Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In Continental Europe, early resorts included Ostend (for the people of Brussels), and Boulogne-sur-Mer (Pas-de-Calais) and Deauville (Calvados) (for Parisians).

International mass tourism

Increasing speed on railways meant that the tourist industry could develop slowly, even internationally. By 1901, the number of people crossing the English Channel from England to France or Belgium had already passed 0.5 million per year.

However it was with cheap air travel in combination with the package tour that international mass tourism developed after 1963. For the worker living in greater London, Brindisi today is almost as accessible as Brighton was 100 years ago.

Recent developments

Mass tourism has been stagnating and declining in recent years. The Costa del Sol and the Baleares, which attracted millions of tourists annually during the 1980s and 1990s, and other resorts such as Cancun have seen declining tourist numbers as they have become seen as untidy or ugly or simply lacking in kudos due to their past popularity. The mass tourist economy has also been hit badly by terrorism, with specific attacks on destinations such as Bali and Kenya.

Receptive tourism is now growing at a very rapid rate in many developing countries, where it is often the most important economic activity in local GDP.

In recent years, second holidays or vacations have been becoming more popular as people have more disposable income. Typical combinations are a package to the typical mass tourist resort, with a winter skiing vacation or weekend break to a city or national park.

Special forms of tourism

For the past few decades other forms of tourism have been becoming more popular, particularly:

  • Agritourism: Farm based tourism, helping to support the local agricultural economy.
  • Ecotourism: Sustainable tourism which has minimal impact on the environment, such as safaris (Kenya) and Rainforests (Belize), or national parks.
  • Cultural tourism: Usually urban tourism, visiting historical or interesting cities, such as London, Paris, Prague, Rome, Cairo, Beijing, Kyoto, etc.
  • Heritage tourism: Visiting historical or industrial sites, such as old canals, railways, battlegrounds, etc.
  • Health tourism: Usually to escape from cities or relieve stress, perhaps for some 'fun in the sun', etc. Often to "health spas".
  • Sport tourism: Particularly skiing.
  • Sex tourism: mostly men from First World countries visiting Third World countries for purpose of engaging in sexual acts, usually with inexpensive local prostitutes. This form of tourism is often cited the principal way that paedophiles can hire child prostitutes.
  • Perpetual tourism: Wealthy individuals always on holiday, some of them, for tax purposes, to avoid being resident in any country.
  • Drug tourism (for use in that country, or, legally often extremely risky, for taking home)
  • Gambling tourism, e.g. to Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Macau or Monte Carlo for the purpose of visiting the casinos there.
  • Disaster tourism: travelling to a disaster scene not primarily for helping, but because one finds it interesting to see. It can be a problem if it hinders rescue, relieve and repair work.
  • Medical tourism, e.g.:
    • for what is illegal in one's own country, e.g. abortion, euthanasia; legal euthanasia for non-citizens is rare or non-existent.
    • for advanced care that is not available in one's own country
    • in the case that there are long waiting lists in one's own country
    • for use of free or cheap health care organisations
  • Armchair tourism and virtual tourism: not travelling physically, but exploring the world through internet, books, TV, etc.
  • Space tourism

Travel guides

Tourism in specific countries

Information on tourism and touring in several countries is available in:

See also

External links

Wiki travel sites

  • Wikitravel - an open content, Wiki, global travel guide under Creative Commons licence.
  • World66 - another open content, Wiki, global travel guide, also under Creative Commons licence. (previously known as "")
  • Hospitality Club - a free global network of people offering hospitality to each other when travelling with Wiki-features for travel guides.

Commercial travel sites

  • Travel Walk - Travel guides, recommended destinations, travel forums and upload travel photos for free. 100 percent unbiased travel website.
  • CountryGuide - editor-maintained directory of links for researching country travel, vacations, relocation, or retirement.
  • Thecolombo Travel - Tourist Information & guides to tropical island
  • Global Travel Guides - Interactive guides to 3000 cities around the world
  • Inside Travel Tips - a free answer guide that answers many of the common questions travelers have.
  • Let's Go - guides aimed at the independent traveller.
  • Lonely Planet Destinations Guide - a great resource for finding information about a particular location.
  • Rough Guides Travel - thoroughly researched travel guides to the world's countries, targeting shoestring to luxury travellers.
  • Travel Directory - International directory of tourism and travel related resources including travelogues and destination guides.
  • Moon Handbooks guides to the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific
  • Luggage Life - Quick reference travel preparation advice.
  • Adventure Vacations - guide to adventure travel ideas and destinations.