Definition of Tourism

Definition of Tourism

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8395-0.ch001
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The chapter reviews the development of travel and tourism, especially cultural tourism from Egyptian times to the present. Attention is paid to intersecting developments in three key technologies impacting tourism: travel, communication, and information technologies. The evolution of travel technologies from walking to horse drawn coaches, to steam engines, to internal combustion, to jet technologies are presented parallel to communication and information technologies. International tourism increased 4,000% between 1950 and 2014. Travel technology was the primary driver in the development of tourism from its inception in early recorded time; however, in the last 100 years, communication and information technologies have asserted important roles in tourism, and in recent decades equaled and possibly surpassed the importance of travel technology.
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Definition Of Tourism

It seems there are almost as many definitions of tourism as there are organizations operating within the field or scholars who study it. Definitions have evolved over time as the field has changed in response to technologies, wealth, and interests. Context plays an important role in definitional matters regarding tourism in general and cultural tourism in particular. Tourism is a broad concept that can be regarded as a social, economic, or cultural phenomenon (OECD, 2016). Tourism can refer to an activity or to an industrial sector. Furthermore, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), within the International Cultural Tourism Charter (2011) states, “tourism itself has become an increasingly complex phenomenon, with political, economic, social, cultural, educational, bio-physical, ecological and aesthetic dimensions.”

Tourism in and of itself is complex; however, definitional matters grow more complex when the issue is cultural tourism. The U.N. World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Secretary-General Taleb Rifai states plainly, “there is no internationally-agreed definition of cultural tourism (Pier, 2016).” Entire articles have been written to achieve nothing more than a definition of cultural tourism, e.g., Mousavi, Doratli, Mousavi, and Moradiahari (2016) and Rohrscheidt (2008) and numerous articles have had to operationalize a definition for their particular needs, e.g., Silberberg (1995), Russo and van der Borg (2002), and Richards, (1996).

The authors leave it to others to debate preferences for one definition over another. We simply establish a foundation upon which to build our analysis. That said, we employ definitions that are sufficiently broad to capture the breadth of the subject and any evolution the subject might experience in the short to medium terms. We will not try to predict the long-term future.

While not all travel is tourism, according to the World Tourism Organization,

Tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited (Tourism Society, n.d.).

Tourism may be domestic or international and it may have more than one motivation, i.e., one may travel for both business or leisure as long as it takes one outside of her/his normal places of work and residence. Our study of cultural tourism employs most of the WTO definition with few exceptions – business travel will not be included; nor will some other types of tourism, e.g., travel for health purposes. However, travel for business or health may be combined with travel for cultural reasons, thereby falling within our definition.

While most international development bodies have an operational definition of cultural tourism, no definition is broader than Wall's, “…cultural tourism refers to tourism activities that are hinged around culture” (1998, p. 9). This definition, of course, leaves it to the reader to define what is culture. While recognizing this shortcoming, the authors appreciate its simplicity and broad applicability.

Finally, with regard to definition, the authors employ “cultural tourism” rather than “cultural and heritage tourism” (Mandala Research, 2013 and Vance, 2016) or “heritage tourism” (Rominia-Bulgaria Cross Border Cooperation Programme, 2013 and, 2017). Without belaboring this point, while there are multiple definitions of each, there is considerable overlap, and in general, the distinctions tend to be small.

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