Tourism is travel for pleasure; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international or within the traveller’s country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go “beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only”, as people “travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”. Tourism is the act of travel for predominantly recreational or leisure purposes, and also refers to the provision of services in support of this act. According to the World Tourism Organization, tourists are people who “travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”.
Tourism, however long its incident duration, has become an extremely popular, global activity. In 2004, there were over 763 million international tourist arrivals.
As a service industry, tourism has numerous tangible and intangible elements. Major tangible elements include transportation, accommodation, and other components of a hospitality industry. Major intangible elements relate to the purpose or motivation for becoming a tourist, such as rest, relaxation, the opportunity to meet new people and experience other cultures, or simply to do something different and have an adventure.
Tourism is vital for many countries, due to the income generated by the consumption of goods and services by tourists, the taxes levied on businesses in the tourism industry, and the opportunity for employment and economic advancement by working in the industry. For these reasons, NGOs and government agencies may sometimes promote a specific region as a tourist destination, and support the development of a tourism industry in that area. The contemporary phenomenon of mass tourism may sometimes result in overdevelopment, however alternative forms of tourism such as ecotourism seek to avoid such outcomes by pursuing tourism in a sustainable way.
The terms tourism and travel are sometimes used interchangeably. In this context, travel has a similar definition to tourism but implies a more purposeful journey. The terms tourism and tourist are sometimes used pejoratively to imply a shallow interest in the cultures or locations visited by tourists.
The tourist: The tourist seeks various psychic and physical experience and satisfaction. The nature of these will largely determine the destinations chosen and the activities enjoyed.
The business providing tourist goods and services: Business people see tourism as an opportunity to make a profit by supplying the goods and services that the tourist markets demand.
The government of the host community or area: politicians view tourism as a wealth factor in the economy of their jurisdiction. Their perspective is related to the income their citizens can earn from this business. They also consider the foreign exchange receipts from international tourism as well as the tax receipts collected from tourist expenditures, either directly or indirectly. The government can lay an important role in tourism policy, development, promotion and implementation.
The host community: Local people usually see tourism as a cultural and employment factor. Of importance to this group, for example, is the effect of the interaction between large numbers of international visitors and residents. This effect may be beneficial or harmful, or both
Tourism can be divided into four categories:
- International tourism
- Inbound tourism: Visits to a country by nonresidents
- Outbound tourism: Visits by residents of a country to another country
- Internal tourism: Visits by resident and nonresidents of the country of reference
- Domestic tourism: Visits by residents of a country to their own country
- National tourism: Internal tourism plus outbound tourism
- Prerequisites of tourism
Before people are able to experience tourism they usually need at least:
Disposable income, i.e. money to spend on non-essentials
Tourism infrastructures, such as transport and accommodation
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. Certain states with strong governmental control over the lives of citizens (notably established Communist states) may restrict foreign travel only to trustworthy citizens. The United States prohibits its citizens from travelling to some countries, for example, Cuba.