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Strengths and Weaknesses of the Principal Formal Definition Essay

Identify and discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the principal formal definition(s) of the industry sector central to your programme of study

This assignment will concentrate on the title: ‘Identify and discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the principal formal definition(s) of the industry sector central to your programme of study.’ It is going to start off with a definition of tourism by Herman von Schullard in 1910 which says: tourism is ‘the sum total of operations, mainly of economic nature, which directly relate to the entry, stay and movement of foreigners inside and outside a certain country, city or region’. Afterwards it is going to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this definition by outlining the development of the term tourism with help of different definitions from different times, using the definition of a committee of statistical experts at the League of Nations in 1937, of Hunziker and Krapf in 1941, of the International Union of Official Travel Organisations (IUOTO) in 1968, of the Tourism Society of England in 1976 and from the International Conference on Leisure-Recreation-Tourism in Cardiff in 1981.

To begin with working on the exercise mentioned in the headline one should at first understand which aspects are important in a definition of tourism and where there are still problems of defining tourism. There are various criteria, such as distance travelled; how far the tourist has to travel from home to be classified as a tourist. The purpose of the trip; whether the tourist is travelling on business, to visit some friends or relatives or simply to spend his leisure time at a different destination to go sightseeing or just to relax somewhere other than his own home. And the last criterion is the length of stay; there are two types of tourists distinguished by the length of stay. Someone staying for less than a day is an excursionist and someone staying longer than a day is classified as a tourist. Tourism also normally involves expenditure at the destination, although this is not necessarily the case. ‘Someone cycling or hiking in the countryside on a camping weekend in which they carry their own food may make no economic contribution to the destination in which they travel, but can nonetheless be counted as a tourist’, as Holloway mentioned in his book ‘The Business of Tourism (2006), p4’.

Overall tourism involves a change of location and therefore most of the time is a change from the daily routine, whereas locals can also be considered as tourists within their city or region if they participate in tourism activities. After discussing what has to be mentioned in a definition for tourism there are still problems and questions according this topic. For example, ‘Should shoppers travelling from, say, Bristol to Bath, a distance of twelve miles, be considered tourists?’ (Holloway, 2006, p4) And is it really the purpose and the distant that form the deciding factors? ‘And what about the growing band of people who are travelling regularly between their first and second homes, sometimes spending equal time at each?’ (Holloway, 2006, p4), or those children travelling from one parent to the other on a regular basis, are they considered tourists?

After outlining the strengths and weaknesses of tourism definitions in general, one should have a look at different definitions. As mentioned in the introduction, this assignment is going to start off with the definition by Herman von Schullard in 1910: tourism is ‘the sum total of operations, mainly of economic nature, which directly relate to the entry, stay and movement of foreigners inside and outside a certain country, city or region’.

Schullard states in this definition, that tourism mainly involves a stay at a destination, which he classifies as a country, city or region, due to economical purposes. The weaknesses in this definition are obvious. Schullard on the one hand mentioned a purpose of tourism, on the other hand he did not mention either the distance of travel, nor the period of time a tourist has to stay away from home to be classified as a tourist. He also just put in one purpose of tourism; of economic nature, whereas tourism can have several more purposes, such as activities associated with tourism or visiting friends and/or relatives.

In 1937 the League of Nations defined tourism ‘as people travelling abroad for periods of over 24 hours’. Again in this definition is not mentioned the purpose of travel, nor the distance of travel. The only right aspect of tourism in this definition is that tourism is linked to travelling from one point to another. The second aspect in this definition is not completely right. A tourist does not have to travel for periods of over 24 hours to be classified as a tourist. Someone who travels to a different city for only a day is doing tourism as well as someone who travels for more than 24 hours. They are basically two different types of tourism.

Professor Hunziker and Krapf of Berne University defined tourism as ‘the sum of the phenomena and relationships arising from the travel and stay of non-residents, as so far as they do not lead to permanent residence and are not connected to any earning activity’, in 1942. Again this definition mentions that travel away from one’s residence is necessary for it to be considered tourism but Hunziker and Krapf do not say to what exact purpose someone has to travel, as it could again be on business, a visit or on holidays. And this definition gives the impression that travel and stay are both necessary for tourism, whereas a day trip can also be considered as a tourist activity, and it ‘excludes business travel, which is connected with earnings’ (Holloway, 2006, p4/5).

In 1968, the International Union of Official Travel Organisations (IUOTO) defined tourists as ‘temporary visitors staying at least twenty-four hours in the country visited and the purpose of whose journey can be classified under one of the following headings: (a) leisure (recreation, holiday, health, study, religion and sport); (b) business (family mission, meeting)’. Again in this definition they restricted the time of being away from home to be at least 24 hours, whereas tourism also includes a stay for only a day. The positive aspect about this definition is that they defined leisure and business in further detail therefore they covered all of the purposes a tourism trip can have. The aspect not mentioned at all is the distance of travel. It is not clearly explained what exactly a temporary visitor is.

The Society of England also defined tourism, in 1976. They said that tourism is ‘the temporary, short-term movement of people to destinations outside the place where they normally live and work – and includes movement for all purposes.’ They leave the purposes of travel unexplained, and the distance travelled and the length stayed at the destination totally unmentioned. This definition was revised again by the International Conference on Leisure-Recreation-Tourism in Cardiff in 1981: ‘Tourism may be defined in terms of particular activities selected by choice and undertaken outside the home environment. Tourism may or may not involve overnight stay away from home.’ This definition basically shows the beginnings of all criteria necessary for defining tourism but does not go into further detail. Again, how far does a tourist have to travel to be classified as a tourist and what are the purposes and activities exactly, does it include a shopping tour?

Today the official definition of tourism was written by the World Tourism Organisation in 1993 and defines tourism as ‘[…] the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year of leisure, business or other purposes.’ As well as the other definitions mentioned in this assignment the official definition of tourism does not cover every little detail and question that occurs when talking about tourism. It gives information neither about the activity taken at the destination nor about the distance to be travelled by the tourist, which could be helpful because as mentioned before, a local person can be a tourist as well as a person from a different country.

As one can see on the basis of this assignment there is not an absolute definition for tourism. There are always different aspects and detailed questions that cannot all be covered within one definition. Tourism is a term that involves many different criteria and topics and it is hard to have a clear-cut between those people considered as tourists and those who are not. It is mostly unmentioned for what exact reason a person has to travel, what distance has to be between the home of a person and the destination or for how long a person has to stay at the destination to be considered as a tourist. Every definition covers a little bit of at least one aspect but they never go into any further detail which makes the understanding of the term tourism not hard but incomplete in a way and free for everyone to interpret.

Reference List:

Apostopoulos, Y., Leivadi, S., Yiannakis, A. (1996) The Sociology of Tourism: Theoretical and empirical investigations, 1st Ed. Routledge

Cooper, C., Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. & Wanhill, S. (2005) Tourism – Principles and Practise, 3rd Ed. Harlow: Pearson

Davidson, R. (1993) Tourism, 2nd Ed. Harlow: Longman

Holloway, C. (2006) The Business of Tourism, 7th Ed. Harlow: Pearson Education

Lickorish, L. Jenkins, C. (1997) An Introduction to the Industry, 1st Ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann

Lickorish, L., Jenkins, C. (2005) An Introduction to Tourism, 7th Ed. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann

Pearce, D. (1992) Tourist Development, 2nd Ed. Harlow: Longman

Sharpley, R. (2006) Travel and Tourism, 1st Ed. London: SAGE Publications

Travel vs Tourism: Constantine Constantinides Adds Light to the Rhetorical Heart – Travelogues. Available from: [Accessed 15 November 2009]

Wall, G., Mathieson, A. (2006) Tourism: Change, Impact and Opportunities, 1st Ed. Harlow: Longman

William, S. (2004) Tourism: Critical Concepts in the social science, 1st Ed. Routledge

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