Tourism has been around for many years, ever since people have had some form of transport such as boats or chariots (later changing to horse-drawn wagons), which allowed people to move around (Sharpley, 1999a).
The history of tourism can be seen all over the world. Dating back to the Egyptian and roman times, evidence has been found in Egypt where the Egyptians would visit the pyramids either for religious purposes or for curiosity and also for leisure; this can be seen in markings in the pyramids themselves.
From then came Pilgrimages which were a movement mostly for religious reasons, but also used by people who would take opportunities to join ships heading to other destinations in order to bring back souvenirs or even strike up deals with the local banks and get credit.
Following this, the Grand Tour was established which aristocrats would embark on in Europe. Seen as an educational experience as well as a trip for pleasure, the men would often spend a number of years in other countries studying at universities. In those days tourism was seen as a way to explore the world and learn about other cultures rather than lie on a beach and get a suntan.
In the 18th century internal passports were introduced in France which were required in order to move from one town to the next. Similarly in the USA an internal passport was needed to travel between states. In 1548 Britain introduced passports which were chargeable and only afforded by the wealthy. It was standard practice for passports to be issued by the state but in the late 18th century it became impossible for the Foreign Secretary alone to continue doing this due to such a high number of people wanting to travel.
After the First World War passports had been widely introduced making travel abroad far easier, and Europe became a wealthy continent again. Steam ships, bicycles and later on motor vehicles all played a big part in the growth of tourism allowing tourists to eventually have an independent holiday which saw a decline in the use of railways. This independent travel was aided by caravans and camping.
In the early 18th century a doctor based in Brighton on the south coast of the UK declared that salt water could cure diseases and encouraged people to drink and bathe in salt water (Wikipedia, 2012a) This led to Brighton being known as a health resort, which resulted in an increase in the number of visitors who hoped the water would cure any ailments they may have had. Soon enough people were taking trips to seaside destinations all around the country.
There was a boom in transport during the industrial revolution which saw railways and coaches being developed. Suddenly seaside resorts were easily accessible and became a huge growth area for tourism. In addition to this, the industrial revolution meant many people had moved from their countryside home to polluted cities where the work was. Dirty and stressful jobs led to people wanting an escape from their daily lives and sought solace elsewhere; the seaside resort provided the answer.
The government did not have much to do with tourism until after World War 2 when finally they realised tourism could help make a positive contribution to the countries’ financial situation. In addition to this they realised a holiday played an important part in a persons health, and also in their ability to work well. This eventually led to the implementation of two weeks paid holiday per year for workers, a huge contributing factor to mass tourism.
In the Victorian days there were many different types of coinage in Europe making it a bit more difficult for people to travel. The introduction of travellers cheques removed this
problem, as did the Euro. With paid holiday each year, more competitive pricing, and better exchange rates travel has become more affordable for middle class people.
Infrastructure has been developed to cater for the growth of tourism such as the pump room at the Roman Baths in Bath, England. The only place in Britain with natural hot springs, the pump room was built to enable tourists to sample the water and in doing so became the place to be during the Georgian era (Hotel Guru 2007). Other examples of the development of infrastructure are the London Eye, the London Olympics venues, and the Euro Tunnel built under the English Channel allowing cars or foot passengers to travel to Europe.
The biggest area which aided the growth of tourism is the package holiday. Originally introduced by Thomas Cook in the 19th century, the package holiday really took off in the 70’s when air travel had been developed. Tour operators had the ability to buy hotel rooms en masse and charter aircrafts, making a package holiday which was affordable to their customers. In time, airlines started adding newer modern jets to their fleets with improved engine speed which meant tourists could be flown to more exotic destinations and still at a reasonable price. Soon enough new routes were emerging and mass tourist package holidays were well established.
Spain and the Balearic Islands were the most visited countries in the early days but this popularity soon spread to the Canary Islands then Greece.
As time went on, workers were given even longer paid holidays (today it’s common to have 20 or 25 days of paid holiday per year) so people were starting to take two holidays a year. Wanting to flee the cold and wet winter months from October to February, winter sun holidays were born. This enabled tour operators to reduce their prices even further. Aircrafts are always evolving, with bigger and more powerful planes consistently in development. The Boeing 747 was released with the capability to fly 400 passengers at once causing the cost of flights to be significantly reduced. With both tourists wanting to chase the sun and the development of hotel chains in America such as the Hyatt and Sheraton, long haul flights were in demand and became readily available through the use of jumbo jets. With attractions such as Disneyland, Florida became a hotspot destination for Europeans.
In the early 1980’s the recession hit, which caused a massive decline in the number of people who could afford to travel. The economy did not recover until 4 to 5 years later when tourism slowly started to regain some momentum.
Similarly in the 90’s, tourism was thwarted by a second recession and another war, the Gulf War. Safety became an uncertainty and as such international tourism slumped. Luckily the industry recovered well and spread to developing countries as well as showing an increase in short haul trips. The package holiday market was later increased by the incorporation of city breaks, river cruises and trips to cultural and heritage sites.
With technology developments and the introduction of the internet, customers can now book their holidays online without needing the use of a travel agency and in turn removing the need for face to face sales, saving the company money which ultimately can be passed on to the customer.
With technology continuing to advance at an extraordinary rate, space tourism could well be the next top destination on peoples wish list. A lot of interest has already been shown in this area, and it is said that space travel tickets could be afforded by wealthy people who would be prepared to pay millions of dollars for one trip (Space.com, 2012). Undersea resorts are already in the pipeline, with Poseidon Resorts already having built 24 accommodation suites under water in Fiji (Poseidon Undersea Resorts, 2006).
Another area for future developments is cruises. Bigger and more impressive ships are being built in the next few years which will provide a whole new experience for the tourist. This could affect the tourism sector by shifting interest from package holidays on land, to the ultimate holiday experience on water.