This is one subject or activity which has lot more than what comes to your mind when asked about it and this is tourism. Yes, pictures have probably already started forming in your mind even before we asked you what tourism is or how is it defined, as most or all of us have done it. Let us call it tourisming or touristing. Yet, it requires more than the doing to properly understand tourism meaning, definition and then go on to understand all its dynamics including its nature and types of tourism. Tourism is actually a concept. So, let us look at it again, little more in depth.
There are few things we do or love to do and those involve travelling away to somewhere. We love some place due to its beauty, nature, facilities, etc., and love to go there often; we love exploring new places to regularly visit; we want to spend holiday, off days, weekends, etc. at some place other than our home, or some place that is quite and nice; or we just love to go places or just go out somewhere. Does this sound something similar? Does this bring some memories or the actual activities or things that you do often or even occasionally? Right, this is what we know of as tourism.
The word tourism is all too familiar to all of us, we know what it means. Just the mention of this name would bring so many images (which you already have created) of beautiful places, natures, beaches, cities, travel and fun. But we may have to think little hard than this when asked how to define tourism. Or what is tourism? The two basic things we all know about it is that it is travelling and visiting a new place or a place away from your home. If you thought this then you summed it up quite alright.
Tourism is a concept actually. It is an idea or notion. Tourism is generally or basically what we know as travel, yet it is much more than that. Tourism is a very particular or rather few specific ways of travelling.
Tourism is a concept of travelling. It means and covers travelling for different but specifically defined purposes.
Did you also knew that travelling also a distance factor?
What that means is that if you have not travelled a particular or minimum distance than it will not be considered as tourism. Many countries have or had their own minimum distance covered criteria to define what is tourism.
This makes tourism a concept. Let us now understand in detail what is tourism definition and its meaning.
The word or activity of tourism as defined by The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) goes like this, "Tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to, and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes."
Let us elaborate this tourism definition a little bit now. How this definition relates to what we thought about it. First, tourism is travelling for the purposes of leisure, business or any other. Broadly the objective can be summed as either leisure or business. Second, it is going to and staying in places which are outside of one's usual environment. The environment mentioned here means the place of usual stay of a tourist which is their home town, city or country. In case of domestic tourism the environment would be their home town or city and in case of international tourism it would be the country they live in.
The third important factor is the period. If one goes to another city or country and stays there for a longer period then it does not count as tourism. The fourth thing we can add here is tourism is volunteer and self-motivated in nature and not a paid stay. And travel is the essential part of tourism.
What is tourism in very simple words?
A very simple definition of tourism is that tourism means travelling to a distant place or for some purpose or both.
Most people understand tourism as simply travelling for fun. That fun is an objective. And if we look at the various types of tourism then there are plenty of objectives, and not all are fun. The two main and broad distinction and types of tourism are leisure tourism and business tourism.
Therefore we define tourism in simple words as travelling which is for some purpose or to a place or both. We believe this simplest definition of tourism covers every type of tourism or every type of travel which is for tourism. This plain and simple tourism definition also indirectly covers or highlights the one key feature of tourism which is that tourism is not a routine or a pure work travel.
Tourism is purpose oriented travel - Tourism is more than just travel
Tourism can also be called or referred to as purposeful travel
You can plan to go to some place just to avoid being at your home place on holidays or vacations and still do what largely is defined as tourism above. This is one of the types of tourism and you can specifically call it as vacationing or holidaying. We did not coin these terms. To know the holidaying or vacationing meaning refer to these sentences:
I was vacationing in Europe with my family
He is holidaying in Italy
Let us take example of those above terms to explain little more clearly, what is tourism and what tourism means.
Let's say that you are going to have holidays, vacations or perhaps a long weekend and you plan to spend it somewhere else and have fun, and not just sit at home all those days. Will you go to a nearby hotel and stay there and go to your usual markets for shopping? Would that mean spending holidays differently than your regular days? Would that bring any fun? Would you be excited to go there and when you come back will you be able to say that you spent your holidays well enough and not like your usual days? NO!
So, the first thing tourism means usually going to some tourist place. It also means going to a place away from your home because then the place creates interest for you and you become a tourist at that place and for people staying there. You are not a tourist at your place of stay or the in your nearby shopping markets.
What you do next?
You plan to go to a tourist place. A place which you have not seen probably and where you can plan to do exciting things. So, you select a place which has something exciting thing or activity to offer, plan your trip, book travel and hotel tickets, reach there, go to those planned destinations, do fun things, may be go to local markets for shopping (you are a tourist here & these are not your local markets), take pictures, eat food, see more places and come back.
This is spending your vacations well, this is vacationing or holidaying. And more importantly.
Tourism means travelling to a different place for various purposes. It is the complete activity of travelling to a place, for some activity and staying there for some time as required by the purpose of travelling and the activity for which you are going for.
These purposes or reasons for tourism are what make tourism huge and wide and these can be leisure, holidaying, friends & family, health or wellness, culture or even religion, and many other like these. These are all types of travel or tourism, which we will list out and explain below.
For example, travelling for leisure is called as leisure tourism, travelling for business purposes is business tourism, and travelling to a different city or country to meet friends or relatives is what is categorized in and as other tourism.
There are three things which can be observed here about tourism and which create the basis of tourism definition and understanding. And these you can notice in the types of tourism above or the list of tourism types which we will mention below. These are, it is volunteer, not paid for and not is not too short or too long or like permanent.
More often than not we refer to tourism as travel. BUT IT IS NOT!
Tourism is often referred to as travel, like you plan for travel abroad and not tourism, or you ask what is your travel plan this year and not what is your tourism plan, so on and so forth. Isn't it? Travel has two meanings, one as the synonym of and more preferred and easy way for tourism and tourism activities; and other as it actually means, going from one place to another.
Travel derives a totally different meaning for tourism. For a travel to be justified as tourism it should mean and include all the things and activities as mentioned in the definition. This can be understood in a little better way by looking at the vacationing meaning again, here. Here is the image again for you.
Look at the (orange) underlined words. They are - be on holiday; and travel, tour, stay, & visit. All these refer to vacationing which is the act of being on vacations or holidays. Being means a continuous state which will necessarily involve being somewhere or some place for some time in continuity. And being on vacations is a type of tourism, and it involves all the underlined words or includes these words in its meaning.
Hence, a travel to be termed as tourism needs to mean and include the activities mentioned above. This is again a way to see, understand and define tourism. So, tourism means and includes tour (involving tourism activities), travel (to a place), visit to a place, being somewhere, and stay, in this order preferably.
So, tourism which is often referred to as travel, which starts with travelling and is basically a travelling activity, is actually much more than just a travel. We would like to point out few of our own differences between tourism and travel which will bring little more clarity about tourism.
Tourism is an activity. It is a set of many activities that we do for some specific purposes. Tourism as a set of activities involves travel and many other activities. Travel is the essential part. All these activities, other than travel, makes up tourism.
These activities are very important to understand what is tourism and play very important role in defining what is tourism.
So, tourism basically is based upon travelling and a destination, and also the purpose or reason for travelling. The other activities it generally involves are planning, transportation, staying, food, and few other things.
Since, there are or has to be these activities to make tourism, this gives tourism the other angle. That is the commercial angle to tourism and specifically to the activities that tourism covers. All these activities and their commercial side is covered and explained as tourism industry.
Tourism and all these activities within it make tourism important for economy, society and for the entire socio-economic infrastructure of every country and its growth. Tourism helps create huge demand for economic activities and a need for social & infrastructure improvements. You can read the 5 importance of tourism here.