Tourism and its history

Tourism can be defined as the act of travel for the purpose of recreation, and the provision of services for this act. A tourist is someone who travels at least eighty kilometres (fifty miles) from home for the purpose of recreation, as defined by the World Tourism Organization (a United Nations body).

A more comprehensive definition would be that tourism is a service industry, comprising a number of tangible and intangible components. The tangible elements include transport systems – air, rail, road, water and now, space; hospitality services – accommodation, foods and beverages, tours, souvenirs; and related services such as banking, insurance and safety & security. The intangible elements include: rest and relaxation, culture, escape, adventure, new and different experiences.

Many sovereignties, along with their respective countries and states, depend heavily upon travel expenditures by foreigners as a source of taxation and income for the enterprises

that sell (export) services to these travellers. Consequently the development of tourism is often a strategy employed either by a Non-governmental organization (NGO) or a governmental agency to promote a particular region for the purpose of increasing commerce through exporting goods and services to non-locals.

Sometimes “Tourism” and “Travel” are used interchangeably. In this context “travel” has a similar definition to “tourism”, but implies a more purposeful journey.

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

Prerequisite Factors

“Travel”, as an economic activity, occurs when the essential parameters come together to make it happen. In this case there are three such parameters:

1. Disposable income, i. e. money to spend on non-essentials.

2. Time in which to do so.

3. Infrastructure in the form of accommodation facilities and means of transport.

Individually, sufficient health is also a condition,

and of course the inclination to travel. Furthermore, in some countries there are legal restrictions on travelling, especially abroad.


Wealthy people have always travelled to distant parts of the world to see great buildings or other works of art; to learn new languages; or to taste new cuisine. As long ago as the time of the Roman Republic places such as Baiae were popular coastal resorts for the rich.

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 hours.

The Grand Tour

The word “tour” gained 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, Ustka and the Alps.

The British aristocracy were particularly keen on the Grand Tour, using the occasion to gather art treasures from 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 Lor-rain. 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.

Answer the questions.

1. What is tourism?

2. Who is a tourist?

3. What is a more comprehensive definition of tourism?

4. What are the tangible elements of tourism?

5. What are the intangible elements of tourism?

6. Why do some countries depend heavily upon tourism?

7. Why are governments and non-government organizations interested in tourism?

8. What are meanings of tourism and travel in other contexts?

9. What are the prerequisite factors for tourism as an economic activity?

10. What are the individual prerequisite factors for travelling?

11. Why did wealthy people travel long time ago?

12. Why do people travel now?

13. What is the Grand Tour?

14. When did it gain acceptance?

15. Who took the Grand Tour?

16. Why did young noblemen take the Grand Tour?

17. Why were British aristocracy particularly keen on the Grand Tour?

18. Why are private and public collections of art so rich in Britain?

19. Who was the tourism aim at those days?

20. Who did the Grand Tour in the 18th century?

21. Why did Rome, Naples and Florence draw many visitors?

22. What did Romantic Movement do to the Grand Tour?

23. Who inspired the Romantic Movement?

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Tourism and its history