Tourism: a technical definition


Traveling has always been part of humanity, but how many know the difference between a traveler and a tourist? Or between vacation and tourism? Here is an article to explain in detail what is meant by the word tourism!

The individual's awareness of being part of a universal category, that of humanity, and of the problematic declination of this belonging within a specific society, arises with travel. Archaic societies, founded on parental ties (family, tribal) give way to new forms of solidarity, based on interests common to groups of individuals, and this happens because the development of travel and knowledge relating to customs and institutions of different peoples makes the social order appear as susceptible to different interpretations and also to transformations, induced by the cognitive abilities and moral qualities of the subjects involved in it.

It is this awareness that leads to the overcoming of the rigid division between Greeks and barbarians and to the recognition of a universal law, common to all humanity, whose indirect fruit is the birth of individual autonomy in relation to the concrete social order, which is in force. in a given place and at a given time. The individual discovers that he can distance himself from the order in which he grew up and from the models that shaped him. He discovers the possibilità di essere diverso da come è, da come le norme del suo immediato contesto gli impongono di essere.

In the history of man we can distinguish three different and successive periods:

  • of explorations
  • of travel
  • of tourism

Each of these activities can be attributed to a specific epoch in modern history:

  • exploration belongs to the Renaissance
  • the journey to the bourgeois period
  • tourism to industrial modernity.

The three figures are united by the movement on the territory: while the explorer searches for what has not yet been discovered, the traveler tends to relate to what has already been identified as a possible engine of history and the tourist buys what has been discovered and prepared for him by a system of companies and which has been convincingly presented to him through advertising.

But what does tourism actually mean? This is how the United Nations World Tourism Organization defines tourism:

"The activities of people who travel to, and are in, places other than their usual environment for a total period not exceeding one consecutive year for the purpose of leisure, business or for reasons other than the exercise of a remunerated activity at inside the visited environment ".

According to the UNTWO definition, the move must be outside the usual environment, be it the place of residence but also the contexts frequented and the itineraries followed for reasons of study, work, family. Also in terms of time, a maximum stay of one year is set, beyond which we would be faced with a transfer of residence. Finally, from the point of view of the motivation for the trip, all movements of a professional nature related to a paid activity in the place of destination are excluded, which instead identify migrants.

Given the definition of tourism, we see that of tourist:

"Tourist is someone who travels voluntarily and for a limited period of time, driven by an expectation of pleasure deriving from conditions of novelty and change experienced in a one-way and return, relatively long and non-recurring" E. Cohen, Who is a tourist? A conceptual clarification, “The Sociological Review”, Nov. 1974

Tourists are divided into sightseers and vacationers.

The sightseers are those who place more emphasis on travel than stay. They are oriented to visit the attractions, the extraordinary characters, the distinctive features of a specific locality or region, which differentiate it from the others, they are tourists in the literal sense of the term: they make non-recurring trips, characterized by a plurality of destinations, in search of novelty.

The vacationers instead privilege the stay and the hospitality conditions of the locality they go to, orienting their choice on the basis of the equipment, the quantity, and quality of the services, the pleasant character of the places (good hospitality, good food, beautiful beaches, sunshine, fresh air, sports and entertainment facilities, etc.) They are oriented towards a simple interruption of the routine with holidays that can also take on a habitual character. Their journey has a single, often repetitive, destination.

According to the OMT, international tourist flows, measured in terms of arrivals, reached 900 million units in 2007. Direct for:

53.6% to Europe

20.4% to Asia and Oceania

15.8% to the American continent (10.6% North, 5.3 Latin America)

10.2% towards Africa and the Middle East

According to estimates by the World Tourism and Travel Council, in 2008 tourism contributed directly and indirectly to 9.9% of world GDP and employed 238 million people, just over 8% of all world employment.

The most advanced countries occupy the first places in active tourism, while the underdeveloped ones have a highly unbalanced tourism on a territorial and social level, although valuable for the balance of payments.

Myanmar, Ivory Coast, Kenya, insular Central America offer striking examples of tourist centers with luxury equipment, often managed by multinational companies, in stark contrast to the extreme poverty of the region in which these centers are located.

If in 1950 the 15 most visited countries absorbed over 98% of world tourist flows.

This value has recently dropped to 57%, reflecting the emergence of new tourist destinations, many of them in emerging countries.

  • The highest growth rate was achieved by Montenegro, which has placed the tourism industry as a key to economic development and the creation of new jobs.
  • In second and third place are respectively India and China, while we are witnessing the entry into the ranking of four European countries: Romania, Croatia, Latvia, and Albania.

There are also many types of tourism such as cultural tourism, ethnic tourism, historical and environmental tourism, and recreational tourism, and then national, international, and social tourism. These categories are very useful for understanding how to do tourism in a specific area. If you are interested, I will write an article about it! Let me know in the comments.

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Adventurer. It depends on nature. Obsessive student. Explorer. I am an adventurous traveler and photographer based in northern Italy. I graduated from the Artistic High School with specialization in audiovisual and multimedia, and now I'm graduating from the University at the faculty of sciences and techniques of cultural tourism. I love travel and I have made my passion my job.


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