Definition and historical development of tourism, its structure,
components and elements, nature, characteristics, significance
of tourism industry, Approaches to study of tourism, Definition
and distinction between travelers, visitors, excursionists,
tourist and transit visitor, travel motivators and deterrents
DR. MAUMITA CHOUDHURY
TOURISM: THE BASIC CONCEPT
The concept of Tourism is based on travelling from
one place to another comfortable, in terms of travel,
food and accommodation. In the early days, people
travelled from their home to places of worship, on a
pilgrimage or to escape persecution. They also
travelled for reasons such as famine. The Puritans left
England to escape the harassment of Queen Mary.
Similarly, the Irish left Ireland in large numbers
because the potato crop was afflicted by blight and
people had no food to eat. However, things have
changed since then, with rapid advances in science
and technology and a greater sense of tolerance.
Nowadays, people travel more for pleasure than to
escape famine or religious persecution.
Early man travelled under compulsion, primarily to satisfy his biological needs. In
later ages, the emergence of various empires led to travel for political, business
and religious purposes. Travelling in olden times was difficult due to lack of proper
transport facilities, safety and comfort en route. Time and cost were the other
major constraints. Travel became a little organised for religious purposes. The
development of roadside sarais, inns and dharamshalas made business travel,
political visits and journey for the sake of knowledge easier. As technology and
science advanced in leaps and bounds coupled with industrialisation, it led to
economic and social progress. The spread of education also fostered a desire to
travel. There was great progress in the air transport industry and tourist facilities,
which led to the phenomenal growth of tourism. 880 million people have travelled
in the year 2009, ranking tourism as one of the largest, if not the largest industries
of the world. Tourism contributes to the development of understanding among
people, provides employment, creates foreign exchange and raises the standard of
living. For many countries, it has become one of the main forms of sustaining their
economy. Tourism is concerned with pleasure, holidays and travel. These
motivating factors make people leave their usual place of work and residence for
short-term temporary visits to other places.
TOURISM: MEANING AND DEFINITION
Tourism is not an industry; it would be better to call it an activity. It is an
activity that takes place when people move to another place for leisure or
for business and stay there for at least 24 hours.
Tourism and travel are not synonyms. All tourism involves travel but not all
travel is tourism. All tourism occurs during leisure time but not all leisure is
given to tourist pursuits.
Tourism means the business of providing information, transportation,
accommodation and other services to travellers. The travel and tourism
industry is made up of companies that provide services to all types of
travellers, whether travelling for business or pleasure.
Tourism moves people from one region of the world to another. It may be
said to be a ‘dream machine’. It helps realise a dream or fantasy of the
DEFINITIONS OF TOURISM
Hermann V. Schullard, an Austrian economist, as late as in 1910 defined
tourism as “the sum total of operators mainly of an economic nature, which
directly relate to the entry, stay and movement of foreigners inside and
outside a certain country, city or region”.
A couple of Swiss Professors, Hunziker and Krapf, provided a more technical
definition in 1942. They believed that tourism is the totality of the
relationship and phenomena arising from the travel and stay of strangers, if
the stay does not imply the establishment of a permanent residence and is
not connected with a remunerated activity.
Burkart, A.J. and S. Medik provided yet another definition of tourism by
saying: “Tourism denotes the temporary, short-term movement of people to
destinations outside the place where they normally live and work including
their activities during their stay at these destinations”.
Different Approaches to study Tourism:
The institutional approach to the study of tourism considers the various intermediaries and
institutions that perform tourism activities. It emphasizes institutions such as the travel
agency. This approach requires an investigation of the organization, operating methods,
problems, costs, and economic place of travel agents who acts on behalf of the customer,
purchasing services from airlines, rental car companies, hotels, and so on.
The product approach involves the study of various tourism products and how they are
produced, marketed, and consumed. For example, one might study an airline seat - how it
is created, the people who are engaged in buying and selling it, how it is financed, how it is
advertised, and so on. Repeating this procedure for rental cars, hotel rooms, meals, and
other tourist services-gives a full picture of the field. Unfortunately, the product approach
tends to be too time consuming, it does not allow the student to grasp the fundamentals
of tourism quickly.
The historical approach is not widely used. It involves an analysis of tourism activities and
institutions from an evolutionary angle. It searches for the cause of innovations, their
growth or decline, and shifts in interest.
The managerial approach is firm oriented (microeconomic), focusing on the management activities necessary
to operate a tourist enterprise, such as planning, research, pricing, advertising, control, and the like. It is a
popular approach, using insights gleaned from other approaches and disciplines. Regardless of which approach
is used to study tourism, it is important to know the managerial approach. Products change, institutions
change, society changes, this means that managerial objectives and procedures must be geared to change to
meet shifts in the tourism environment. The Journal of Travel Research and Tourism Management, leading
journals in the field, both feature this approach.
Because of its importance to both domestic and world economics, tourism has been examined closely by
economists, who focus on supply, demand, balance of payments, foreign exchange, employment,
expenditures, development, multipliers, and other economic factors. This approach is useful in providing a
framework for analysing tourism and its contributions to a country’s economy and economic development. The
disadvantage of the economic approach is that whereas tourism is an important economic phenomenon, it has
noneconomic impacts as well. The economic approach does not usually pay adequate attention to the
environmental, cultural, psychological, sociological, and anthropological approaches.
Tourism tends to be a social activity. Consequently, it has attracted the attention of sociologist, who have
studied the tourism behavior of individuals and groups of people and the impact of tourism on society. This
approach examines social classes, habits, and customs of both hosts and guest. The sociology of leisure is a
relatively undeveloped field, but it shows promise of progressing rapidly and becoming more widely used. As
tourism continues to make a massive impact on society, it will be studied more and more from a social point of
Geography is a wide-ranging discipline, so it is natural that geographers should be interested in tourism and its
spatial aspects. The geographer specializes in the study of location, environment, climate, landscape, and
economic aspects. The geographer’s approach to tourism sheds light on the location of tourist areas, the
movements of people created by tourism locales, the changes that tourism brings to the landscape in the form
of tourism facilities, dispersion of tourism development, physical planning, and economic, social, and cultural
Tourism embraces virtually all aspects of our society. We even have cultural tourism, which calls for an
anthropological approach. Because people behave in different ways and travel for different reasons, it is
necessary to use a psychological approach to determine best way to promote and market tourism products.
Since tourists cross borders and require passports and visas from government offices, and since most countries
have government-operated tourism development departments, we find that political institutions are involved
and are calling for a political science approach. Any industry that becomes an economic giant affecting the lives
of many people attracts the attention of legislative bodies (along with that of the sociologists, geographers,
economists, and anthropologist,) which create the laws, regulations, and legal environment in which the tourist
industry must operate, so we also have a legal approach.
The Systems Approach:
A system is a set of interrelated groups coordinated to form a unified whole and organized to accomplish a set
of goals. It integrates the other approaches into a comprehensive method dealing with both micro and macro
issues. It can examine the tourist firm’s competitive environment, its market, its results, its linkages with other
institutions, the consumer, and the interaction of the firm with the consumer. In addition, a system can take a
macro viewpoint and examine the entire tourism system of a country, state, or area and how it operates within
and relates to other systems, such as legal, political, economic, and social systems.
CHARACTERISTICS OF TOURISM
The following are the unique characteristics of a tourist product:
Intangible - Non-Material
No transfer of ownership is possible as compared to a tangible product, e.g. a motorcar.
This means that when a tourism product is bought, actually the buyer gets the right to use
the product for a stipulated period and does not own the product. When a room in a hotel
is bought, for example, it means the tourist haspaid for the right to use the hotel room for
a period for which he has paid but does not own the room.
Production and Consumption
The travel agent or the person who sells his product cannot store it. There is a close link
between production and consumption of tourist services. The production takes place at
the place of consumption; that means one cannot bring the product to other place, e.g. if
one has to enjoy Shimla, he has to go there and Shimla cannot be taken anywhere else.
Assembled by Many Producers
The tourist product cannot be provided by a single enterprise. Each of the elements of a
tourist product makes the final product by itself. This is not so in the case of other tangible
products where one manufacturer produces a total product. E.g. although tourism product
is the combination of products such as transportation, accommodation can be sold as a
single product by themselves.
Demand Highly Unstable
The demand is influenced by factors such as seasonal demands, economy, political reasons etc. The
seasonal changes greatly affect the demand. Seasonally means the tourism plant is frequently used
for a limited part of the year and therefore uneconomic. Many tourist areas have a short season -
often as little as three months. A corollary of this seasonal usage is the seasonal unemployment,
which is a serious problem. Some of the developing countries, which have recently established
tourist industries, suffer particularly from seasonality. Seasonality also places strains on the
transport system and other services. Thus, seasonality presents a problem not only in relation to
employment but also in relation to investment. On the other hand, political unrest and economic
instability caused by currency fluctuations and inflation etc. greatly affect tourism demand.
In most industries, manufacturers have predominant control over product design, distribution,
promotion and pricing. In tourism, intermediaries such as tour operators, travel agents, reservation
services and hotel brokers, government organisations play a very important role and enjoy superior
marketing strength. From the standpoint of tourism marketing, this strong position of the travel
trade has significant implications. The travel trade determines to a large extent which services will
be sold and to whom. The type of services to be offered as well as the pricing policies and
promotion strategies to be adopted by tourist enterprises are therefore, determined not only by the
needs and preferences of the customers but also by those expressed by travel sales intermediaries.
It is comparatively simple to determine why people buy a certain brand of refrigerator, use certain
brands of toothpaste or prefer a certain type of packaged food. The reasons, status, trend,
expectations and desires determine tourists’ selection of holiday destination, type of
accommodation and transportation and activities at the destination are far less evident.
FORMS OF TOURISM
Nature based tourism/ Eco tourism involves individual and/or organised
tours into natural areas. It includes all nature-based forms of tourism in
which the main motivation of the tourists is the observation and
appreciation of nature as well as the traditional cultures prevailing in natural
areas.Eco tourism may be understood as tourism happening in destinations
cantered around attractions such as flora, fauna, cultural heritage etc.
Responsible eco-tourism includes programmes and initiatives from tourists
and tourism organisations that minimise the adverse effects of traditional
tourism on the natural environment and enhance the cultural integrity of
local people. Therefore, in addition to evaluating environmental and cultural
factors, initiatives by hospitality providers to promote recycling, energy
efficiency, water re-use and the creation of economic opportunities for local
communities are an integral part of eco-tourism.
Beach and coastal tourism: is where touring coastal areas, seaside
resorts and beaches are the important highlights. The main activities
are relaxation with some water sports. The concentration of
development, which reflects the huge demand for this form of tourism,
has had a major impact on many parts of the world including the
Caribbean, the Mediterranean Basin (which receives around 30 percent
of all international tourist arrivals) and South East Asia, as well as in
resort areas elsewhere. The adverse impacts include unplanned
infrastructure development exceeding the carrying capacity, damage to
coastal eco-system, pollution of the water bodies resulting from mass
waste disposal from hotels and other facilities located on the coast.
Mountain based tourism: includes adventure sports and recreational
activities all spread throughout the year depending on the seasonal
variations. The scale of development in the context of mountain eco-
systems that are often fragile can result in serious impact on the
environment and biodiversity in areas where mountain tourism takes
Cultural tourism: focuses mainly on the cultural and traditional heritage
of a population. It is mainly based around ancient relics and historical
sites as well as attractions that demonstrate old traditions in action. It
also includes visits to museums, cultural events and similar activities.
This form of tourism is most visible in towns and cities where these
cultural attractions are concentrated as well as around major historical
sites. Frequent visits to attractions in remote areas can result in
enormous negative impact on the cultural and biological diversity.
Ethno tourism: visits to communities known for their rich traditions,
folklore, lifestyle, handicrafts etc. are the focus of ethno tourism.
In Ethnic Tourism the tourist is interested to have a direct contact with
the local people. HeIShe wants a first-hand experience with the way of
life and cultural artifacts of the people who are being visited. In Cultural
Tourism, however, the contact with people is indirect.
Rural tourism (agro tourism): It is a type of tourism activity in which the
visitor's experience is related to a wide range of products generally
linked to nature-based activities, agriculture, rural lifestyle / culture,
angling and sightseeing. The interest lies in special cultural
manifestations in a rural context or at least in one close to nature,
including rural estates (e.g. fences), interesting villages, cultural
landscapes and farming activities (e.g. rice terraces) and horseback
Wildlife Tourism: can be an eco and animal friendly tourism, usually
showing animals in their natural habitat. Wildlife tourism, in its
simplest sense, is watching wild animals in their natural habitat.
Wildlife tourism is an important part of the tourism industries in many
countries including many African and South American countries,
Australia, India, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia and Maldives among
many. It has experienced a dramatic and rapid growth in recent years
worldwide and is closely aligned to eco-tourism and sustainable
Adventure Tourism: is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel
to remote, exotic and possibly hostile areas. Adventure tourism is
rapidly growing in popularity, as tourists seek different kinds of
vacations and adventure tourism may be any tourist activity, including
two of the following three components: a physical activity, a cultural
exchange or interaction and engagement with nature. Adventure
tourism gains much of its excitement by allowing its participants to step
outside of their comfort zone. This may be from experiencing culture
shock or through the performance of acts that require significant effort
and involve some degree of risk (real or perceived) and/or physical
danger. This may include activities such as mountaineering, trekking,
bungee jumping, mountain biking, rafting and zip lining and rock
Educational Tourism: includes attending courses, seminars, workshops on
various subjects of interest in places outside ones usual residence.
Scientific Tourism: interest lies in visiting scientific or technological projects
and trips for professional or educational purposes.
Religious/Esoteric Tourism: traditional places of pilgrimage, monasteries and
other sacred places, traditional ceremonies, meditation centres etc. are part
of this form of tourism.
Health Tourism: includes tourism for improving health and for positive
impacts on health to places, which offer such facilities. These include
thermal baths, Ayurveda and other traditional treatments etc. Another
dimension in medical tourism is to travel to countries where medical
facilities are at its best for availing these facilities.
Sports Tourism: refers to travel for the sake of either viewing or participating
in a sporting event staying apart from their usual environment. It includes
the players, the audience as well as the persons from media, commentator