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Travel & Holidays ESL Games, Worksheets | ESL Travel Activities

If you need some fresh, new ideas for the ESL travel and holiday unit that you can find in most textbooks, then you’re in the right place. We’ll share our top ideas for games and activities, along with travel vocabulary, worksheets and lesson plans. Let’s get to the best ESL holiday activities.


ESL holiday and travel-themed activities

Let’s get into everything you need to know for an ESL holiday lesson. Keep on reading!

ESL Travel and Holiday Activities

Here are the top ESL travel activities that you may want to try out with your students.

#1: Plan a Trip

Have your students plan a dream vacation in English! Instead of researching in their first language, use Google in English. In order to practice writing, keep notes only in English. Here’s an example of how you might plan your trip using English. You can have your students add as little, or as much detail as you’d like. However, the point of the activity is to practice writing in point form which is useful when writing outlines for tests or essays.

Day 1: Monday, January 1

Fly Seoul (3pm) —-> Vancouver (7am) Check in Hotel ABC, 123 Avenue Rest, relax

Day 2: Tuesday, January 2

Stay Hotel ABC Tour Stanley Park Eat Pub XYZ dinner

Day 3: Wednesday, January 3

Check out Hotel ABC Rent car Budget 123 Drive Whistler Rent skis shop ABC Go Skiing Lunch ski lodge Check in Hotel ABC Whistler Bed early

Procedure for one of my favourite ESL travel activities:

  • Give students time to do some Internet research about a place they want to go. It’s helpful to specify the number of days. I generally make a rule that they must do this research in English. Suggest some helpful websites where they might like to start (Trip Advisor, Air BnB, etc.).
  • Students can make a day-by-day itinerary of what they’re trip is going to look like.
  • They can share about their trip with the class or turn it in for a graded assignment.

63 ESL Holiday Games & Activities: Fun Ideas for Halloween, Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's,...

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#2: A-Z Alphabet Game

If you know that your students already know a fair bit about holiday and travel, you may want to try this quick warm-up game. Or, you could consider using it as a review game at the end of a class.

The way it works is that students, in pairs or small groups write down the alphabet on a piece of paper. Then, they have to think of one travel related word for each letter. It doesn’t have to be done in order. For example:

P: Passport

The winner is the team with the most completed letters at the end of the allotted time. Do you want to find out more? Check this out: A-Z Alphabet Game ESL .

#3: Travel Word Association

This is nice ESL activity to do if you know that your students have studied about travel and holidays before. They can shout out vocabulary words related to this and you can make a mind map or sorts on the board. Group similar things together. For example, articles of clothing.

Find out more about this quick ESL warmer right here: ESL Vocabulary Word Association.

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#4: Postcards ESOL Travel Activity

If you can get your hands on some cheap postcards or have some laying around your house or teacher’s office, try out this fun writing activity. It may just be the novelty factor, but students seem to love it. This activity is ideal for working on common greetings, the past tense (more ideas here: ESL past tense games ), and using descriptive words, as well as using synonyms to avoid repetition.

Distribute the postcards to the students. You can do one per student, or put the students into pairs. They have to look at the picture on the front of the postcard and imagine that they went on this vacation. Then, they can write about their trip to a friend or family member.

Next, the students trade postcards with another student or group. After reading them, they can write a response back of at least a few sentences. Finally, you may want to display them around the class as they’re colourful and fun and other students may enjoy reading them! Have some fun with this ESOL travel activity.

  • Give each student or pair a postcard. They look at the picture and imagine what they did on that vacation, and then pretend that they’re writing to a friend or family member.
  •  Exchange postcards and another student or group have to write a response to what they read.
  • Display the postcards around your classroom (optional).

#5: Travel or Holiday Videos

I’m ALL about using videos with my ESL/EFL students. They’re fun, engaging and a nice way to grab student’s attention and introduce a topic. Of course, you can base an entire class around one too if you design the activities well.

If you want to find out more about using them in your classes and some activities and games to do with them, you’ll want to check this out: Using Videos for Teaching English .

#6: Dictogloss ESOL Travel Activity

This is a challenging activity that works on listening and writing skills. Find a short story related to holiday or travel. It could even be a description of your own vacation that you took recently.

Then, you read out the story to your students in a way that is a bit challenging for them to catch every word. Students have to take notes and then try to reconstruct what they heard based on their notes in small groups. You can read it again so that students have a chance to make some additions or corrections. Finally, students compare their version with the original.

Do you want to try it out with your students? You can learn more about one of the best ESL travel activities here: ESL Dictogloss Activity .

#7: Holidays ESL Lesson Plan

It’s easy to plan an ESL lesson about any topic, including holidays. Check out this video for the steps to follow:

#8: Yes/No Questions and Answers

If you think about it, holidays and travel lend themselves to a ton of yes/no questions. For example:

  • Did you fly or drive?
  • Did you eat some delicious things?
  • Was the food good?
  • Did you have nice weather?

If you want to see some activities or games to work on these kinds of questions, you’ll want to check this out: Yes/No Activities and Games.

67 ESL Conversation Topics with Questions, Vocabulary, Writing Prompts & More: For English Teachers...

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#9: ESL Food Activities and Games

I’m not sure if it’s the same for you, but when I travel, it’s ALL about the food. I want to try all the delicious things where I’m staying! The good news is that I have a ton of fun, interactive games and activities for food. You can easily adapt most of them to focus on holidays.

You can find out more details here: ESL Food Activities.

#10: ESL Surveys

I love to use surveys in my classes because they lend themselves to just about any topic. In the case of travel, they’re ideal for working on the present perfect and simple past together.

For example:

Have you ever travelled to another country?

Where did you go?

If you want to know more about how to design and use surveys in your classes for an ESL travel lesson, then you’ll want to check this out: Surveys for ESL Students.


ESL Travel Games and Activities

I also love to use ESL surveys to get students to express an opinion in English.

#11: Present Perfect Activities Related to Travel

The present perfect is often used to talk about vacations, travel and holidays. For example:

  • Have you ever been to another country?
  • Have you travelled to ______ before?

In order to incorporate this grammatical construction into some of your lesson, you’ll want to check this out: Present Perfect ESL Activities.

#12: Brochure Scanning

This is an excellent travel activity! You’ll have to get your hands on some travel brochures first. The way it works is that students get tons of practice with a reading sub-skill (scanning) because they have to look quickly through the brochures to find specific bits of information. For example, cost or number or days.

Do you want to try out this reading activity? You can find out all the details here: Brochure Scanning Reading Activity for ESL .

#13: Odd One Out ESL Warmer

This is a quick English warm-up activity that you can try out with your students. The way it works is that you write words, in groups of 4 on the board. 3 are similar and 1 is the odd one out. Students have to choose this one and say why it doesn’t fit. For example:

Bathing suit, sunglasses, boots, flip-flops

Answers: Boots because it’s not for a beach vacation. I accept many different answers as long as students support it well.

You can learn more about this ESL warm-up here: Odd One Out for ESL .

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#14: Would you Rather? 

I’m sure you’ve done this before with friends. You have to choose between two negative things, or two positive things. For example, how you want to die, or what you want to eat. In this case, students could choose between two types of vacation. For example:

Would you rather have a beach or forest vacation?

Would you rather stay in a big hotel, or an AirBNB?

Learn more about this nice activity for an ESL travel lesson here: ESL Would You Rather?

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#15: Task Based Activity: Dream Vacation

I love to incorporate this style of teaching into my holiday lessons. It allows students more freedom to choose what they want to learn about and also builds opportunities for some serious teamwork.

In this case, I’ll have students work in groups of 2-3 to plan a dream vacation. They can do some research to find out all the details including how to get there, food, budget, where to stay, etc. Then, they either have to write a report and hand it in to me and/or do a short presentation to the class.

Need some more ideas for this style of a lesson? Check this out: Task-Based Learning .

#16: Travel Themed Charades

I love to play charades with my students. The way it works is that you can think of some travel-related phrases. For example:

  • Flying on a plane
  • Sleeping on a bus
  • Eating noodles
  • Buying souvenirs

Then, students have to act this out and their teammates have to guess what the phrase is. More details here: ESL Charades.

#17: Travel Journal

Encourage students to keep a travel journal for a fictional trip. They can describe their experiences, sights, and sounds, using new vocabulary.


Travel and Holidays ESL

#18: Eliciting in an ESL Travel Lesson

Unless your students are absolute beginners, then it’s likely that they already know a good amount of travel and holiday vocabulary. That’s often why I like to start off my ESL traveling lesson by using some eliciting techniques. There are two main reasons for this.

The first reason is that it’s possible to find out what the students already know about this topic to avoid wasting class time covering these things. The second is that it helps students activate their prior knowledge about travel/holidays to make the new things they learn more memorable. Learn how to do this tactic for an ESL holiday lesson here:

ESL Eliciting Advice .

#19: Travel Listening Lesson

A nice way to talk about any topic is through a listening lesson. In this case, find a conversation between two people talking about an upcoming vacation plan. Or, someone talking about a favourite vacation from the past (it could even be you). Then, design an entire listening lesson around that. Find out how here:

#20: Idiom ESL Traveling Activity

There are lots of idioms related to holidays, travel and transportation. Here are just a few of them:

  • All hands on deck
  • To send flying
  • Bump in the road
  • Off the rails
  • Train wreck
  • Asleep at the wheel
  • Fall off the wagon
  • Hit the road

One of the best ways to make these idioms super memorable is to do this fun activity. Afterwards, your students will never forget! Learn more about this ESL activity:

Idiom Activity for Language Learners .

#21: Concentration ESL Traveling Vocabulary

One of the best ways to review new words during an ESL holiday or travel lesson is to play this memory game. Depending on the level of the students, make some matching pairs of cards with the following:

  • Word/picture
  • Word/definition
  • Word/clue about the word

Then in small groups, students play the game to find the matches. Find out all the details about how to set it up and play:

ESL Concentration Game .

#22: Speaking Fluency Activity

To use this activity with a unit on holidays or travel, have students talk about a past, or upcoming vacation.

#23: Me Too!

Students have to make a true statement about themselves related to holidays and travelling. For example:

  • I’ve been to Japan.
  • I hate the beach.
  • My family goes on a big vacation every summer.

If other students can agree, they stand up and say, “Me too!”

#24: Labour Day Guessing Game

#25: Holiday Interviews

Pair students and have them interview each other about their favorite holidays. They can then present their partner’s holiday to the class.

#26: Travel Bingo

Create bingo cards with images or words related to travel and holidays. Students mark off the squares as they learn new vocabulary.

#27: Travel-Themed Role-Plays

Set up role-plays where students act as travelers, airport staff, or hotel receptionists. This helps them practice common travel dialogues.

#28: Travel Vocabulary Pictionary

Play Pictionary using travel-related words. Students take turns drawing and guessing the vocabulary words.

#29: Travel Storytelling

Ask students to create and share short stories about a memorable travel experience they’ve had or wish to have in the future.

#30: Travel Debate

Have students debate the pros and cons of traveling. This encourages critical thinking and speaking skills.

Travel and Holiday Vocabulary

Here are some of the most common vocabulary words that you may want to teach your students related to traveling for an ESL holiday lesson.

  • bathing suit
  • boarding pass
  • vaccination
  • The months of the year in English

Do you have any ESL travelling vocabulary that you’d like us to add to the list? Leave a comment and let us know!

Travel Worksheets and Lesson Plans for ESL

If you’re looking for some worksheets or lesson plans related to holidays and travel, then you’ll want to check out some of our top resource recommendations:

ESOL Courses

ISL Collective

Lingua House

ESL Travel Vocabulary Worksheets

If you want students to get some practice with ESL travel vocab, here are a few recommendations:

English Club

Did you Like these Travel Games for ESL?

English Teaching Emergency: No Textbook, No-Prep, No Materials ESL/EFL Activities and Games for Busy...

  • 68 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date)

Yes? Thought so. Then you’re going to love this book: The Emergency English Teacher: No-Textbook, No-Prep, No-Materials ESL Activities.

If you’re always in need of last-minute activities and games for your classes, then this book is exactly what you might need. It’s English teaching made easy in a serious way.

You can get the book in digital or print formats. Take the e-version with you to your favourite coffee shop for lesson planning on the go. Or, keep a copy on the bookshelf in your office to use as a handy reference guide. But the best idea is to have it with you at all times for those English teaching emergencies.

Do you want to find out more? Head on over to Amazon to pick up your copy today:


FAQs about ESL Travel Lessons

There are a number of common questions that people have about teaching this unit. Here are the answers to some of the most popular ones.

What is the purpose of teaching the travel and holiday unit to English learners?

The purpose is to help English learners develop vocabulary, grammar, and conversational skills related to travel and holidays.

What topics can be covered within the travel and holiday unit?

Topics can include modes of transportation, booking accommodations, tourist attractions, holiday activities, travel phrases, and cultural aspects of different destinations.

How can I introduce vocabulary related to travel and holidays?

You can introduce vocabulary through visual aids, realia (actual objects), flashcards, and interactive activities such as matching games or vocabulary quizzes.

What grammar structures can be taught in the travel and holiday unit?

Grammar structures such as present simple for schedules and timetables, past simple for recounting travel experiences, future tenses for making travel plans, and modal verbs for expressing preferences or asking for permission can be taught.

What speaking activities can be used to practice travel and holiday-related topics?

Role-plays, group discussions about dream destinations, travel itineraries, or describing holiday experiences are effective speaking activities. Additionally, pair work activities like “Find Someone Who” or “Guess the Destination” can engage learners in conversation.

ESL Travel Activities and Games: Join the Conversation

What are your thoughts about these Holiday ESL activities? Do you have another one that you’d like to recommend to us? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

Also be sure to give this article a share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’ll help other busy English teachers, like yourself find this useful resource for ESOL travel lessons.


ESL Travel Lesson

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lesson on travel and tourism

About Jackie

Jackie Bolen has been teaching English for more than 15 years to students in South Korea and Canada. She's taught all ages, levels and kinds of TEFL classes. She holds an MA degree, along with the Celta and Delta English teaching certifications.

Jackie is the author of more than 60 books for English teachers and English learners, including Business English Vocabulary Builder and 39 No-Prep/Low-Prep ESL Speaking Activities for Teenagers and Adults . She loves to share her ESL games, activities, teaching tips, and more with other teachers throughout the world.

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lesson on travel and tourism

lesson on travel and tourism

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), theologian and philosopher
  • April 8, 2021
  • General English

Home » Travel

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This free ESL lesson plan on travel has been designed for adults and young adults at an intermediate (B1/B2) to advanced (C1/C2) level and should last around 45 to 60 minutes for one student.

Whether it’s exploring new places, or relaxing in familiar ones, everyone loves travelling. In fact, many people learning English are doing so for that exact reason. In the past, travelling to exotic locations was only for the super-rich. Now, with the expansion of budget airlines and cheap packages, the world is a lot more accessible to a lot more people. In this ESL lesson plan on travel, students will have the opportunity to discuss and express their opinions on issues such as how much they like travelling, the best places they have visited and different forms of travel.

This lesson plan could also be used with your students to debate these issues for World Tourism Day , which takes place in September. For more lesson plans on international days and important holidays, see the  calendar of world days  to plan your classes for these special occasions.

For advice on how to use this English lesson plan and  other lesson plans  on this site, see the  guide for ESL teachers .


Reading activity Before the English class, send the following article to the students and ask them to read it while making a list of any new vocabulary or phrases they find (explain any the students don’t understand in the class):

World of Wanderlust | The Top 25 Best Destinations in the World

The article provides descriptions of some of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. At the start of the class, hold a brief discussion about what the students thought about the article. Have the students visited any of these places? If so, what did they think about them? Which of the places on the list would they most like to visit and why? Can they think of any of the destinations that should not be on the list? Which other destinations should be on a list of the best destinations in the world?

Video activity To save time in class for the conversation activities, the English teacher can ask the students to watch the video below and answer the listening questions in Section 3 of the lesson plan at home. There are intermediate listening questions and advanced listening questions so teachers can decide which would be more appropriate for their students. Check the answers in the class.

The video for this class is called “The Point of Travel” by The School of Life which views travel as a kind of therapy that can help us with our emotional state of mind.


The focus in the class is on conversation in order to help improve students’ fluency and confidence when speaking in English as well as boosting their vocabulary.

This lesson opens with a short discussion about the article the students read before the class. Next, the students can give their opinion on the quote at the beginning of the lesson plan – what they think the quote means and if they agree with it. This is followed by an initial discussion on the topic including the benefits of travel, the student’s favourite holiday/vacation and the best places to spend a holiday/vacation in their country.

After this, students will learn some vocabulary connected with travel such as backpacking , off the beaten path/track and bucket list . This vocabulary has been chosen to boost the students’ knowledge of less common vocabulary that could be useful for preparing for English exams like IELTS or TOEFL. The vocabulary is accompanied by a cloze activity and a speaking activity to test the students’ comprehension of these words. This may also be a good time to explain the difference between travel, trip and journey , as these words are often confused by students

If the students didn’t watch the video before the class, they can watch it after the vocabulary section and answer the listening questions. Before checking the answers, ask the students to give a brief summary of the video and what they thought about the content.

Finally, there is a more in-depth conversation about travel. In this speaking activity, students will talk about issues such as the different types of holiday/vacation people like to go on, how much they like to plan for a trip and the attraction of solo travel.

After the class, students will write about their opinion of travel. This could be a short paragraph or a longer piece of writing depending on what level the student is at. The writing activity is designed to allow students to practise and improve their grammar with the feedback from their teacher. For students who intend to take an international English exam such as IELTS or TOEFL, there is an alternative essay question to practise their essay-writing skills.


lesson on travel and tourism

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20 Activities for the Travel-Curious Classroom

A list of culture-boosting activities for a classroom or travel club.

20 Activities for the travel-curious classroom

You’ve assigned the translation worksheets and the what-did-you-do-over-holiday-break essays. And it’s great because you’ve got them thinking about life in other parts of the world. But what’s next? If you’re like us at EF Tours , you’re constantly on the hunt for ways to bring students closer to the world at large. That’s why we thought a list of culture-boosting activities could be really helpful in a classroom, or for a travel club.

Grab a copy of the EF Journal

We hear great stories, tips, and insights from within our community of travelers, educators, and wanderers nearly every day. So, we’re sharing them with the world: cue the EF Journal . Within its pages, you can find fresh perspectives, fun activities, discussion topics, and more .

Do a Google Earth scavenger hunt

Exploring the world can start in the classroom. Find the coordinates for the world’s greatest wonders and hidden gems, then task your students with finding them on Google Earth , a free resource by Google that allows users to explore the world via satellite imagery. You can spice it up by including initial coordinates and some directions (move two blocks and then take a right), then asking them to describe the exciting new place they’ve discovered.

Host a music video watch party

Music aficionados, rejoice! Bring your favorite foreign language music videos, crowdsource some from your group, and have a music video marathon. Bonus points if your video includes elaborate dance routines  to practice.

Lead a lesson on body language from around the world

We all know that different parts of the world speak different languages . But what we might forget is that the body language and gestures we use each day may have different meanings when we’re abroad, and vice versa. With a quick Google search , you can find out how body language is used around the world—and practice nonverbal communication with your students.

Play geography trivia

Play into your students’ competitive spirit with a little travel trivia—find some questions online, or make some of your own. Either way, a little competition never hurt anyone, right?

Hold an international flavor taste-test

Seaweed potato chips. Green Tea Kit Kats. Melon Fanta. The world is wide and the combinations of national treasures with unique international flavors are endless. Lucky for your students, many of these oddball flavors can be ordered online . Just get a unique assortment of flavored snacks and test them out—Oreos are a good place to start since they come in a variety of flavors, they’re low-cost and easy to order online, and frankly, universally loved.

Try a suitcase challenge

Put your packing  skills to the test. Tightly pack a suitcase with funny items, then time your students on how quickly they can unpack and then re-pack it themselves. To keep it interesting, keep a scoreboard or play for small prizes.

Have a Carnival celebration

Carnival: It’s feathers, not Ferris wheels; costumes, not corn dogs; brass bands, not bumpy rides. It’s an annual festival of dancing, masks, and parades that is celebrated in over 20 countries around the world, including Brazil , Italy, and Jamaica—and now in your classroom. Explore the importance of Carnival in various regions and maybe have celebration of your own.

Need more ideas? Here are a few to get you started.

  • Do a local photography challenge
  • Have a souvenir show and tell
  • Lead an origami lesson
  • Take a group cooking class
  • Watch a foreign language TV show
  • Try a local foreign restaurant
  • Pair up with pen pals
  • Explore the Guggenheim, virtually  
  • Create travel bucket lists
  • Have a Chinese New Year celebration
  • Watch a themed documentary as a group
  • Hold a Día de los Muertos celebration

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  • Teaching secondary
  • Lesson plans
  • Secondary lesson plans - Intermediate B1

Round-the-world travellers

This lesson offers a variety of activities based on British round-the-world travellers; a cyclist, a running granny and a teenage sailor.

lesson on travel and tourism

Students will firstly review country names, and then there is an activity to pre-teach vocabulary for a jigsaw reading task, where students will explain their texts to each other. There follows a role play in which students play the part of a traveller or a journalist, and this is followed by a task where students compare ideas on advice to world travellers. Finally there is a more open discussion task about young people, travel and world records.

Aims: • To learn vocabulary related to travel and adventure • To develop reading skills • To practise speaking skills Age group: 12- adult

Level: B1 / B2

Time: 60 minutes

Materials: Around-the-world travellers student worksheet, jigsaw reading texts, and lesson plan

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Research and insight

Browse fascinating case studies, research papers, publications and books by researchers and ELT experts from around the world.

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Tourism Teacher

1000+ Travel and tourism teaching resources

Tourism Teacher is the number 1 choice for travel and tourism teaching resources amongst teachers, lecturers and trainers. The extensive resource bank provides a range of travel and tourism teaching resources to those working in secondary schools, colleges and universities as well travel and tourism practitioners and trainers. 

The travel and tourism teaching resources are differentiated to suit learners of all needs and abilities, ranging from entry level travel and tourism students, to GCSE , A Level , BTEC and university level travel and tourism students. With over 1000 travel and tourism resources, including a range of activities, case studies, worksheets and PowerPoint presentations, teachers are well equipped to develop a comprehensive learning programme for their students. 

As any travel and tourism teacher will know, the industry is dynamic and progressive, with ongoing changes to policy and practice. It is for this reason that the Tourism Teacher travel and tourism resources are updated regularly and new resources are developed each month. If there is a particular resource that you require that isn’t part of the 1000 bank of resources, then please do get in contact and I will do my best to produce these for you. 

The resources are organised by topic and there is also a full resource bank for the BTEC Tech Award in Travel and Tourism , BTEC Level 1/2 Award in Travel and Tourism , BTEC Level 3 in Travel and Tourism , Cambridge International A Level in travel and tourism and Cambridge IGCSE in travel and tourism .

lesson on travel and tourism

Types of travel and tourism teaching resources

There are a range of travel and tourism teaching resources available for you to use and adapt for your own classroom, including:

  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Printable worksheets
  • Interactive activities
  • Case studies
  • Reading lists
  • Journal articles
  • Role play cards
  • Classroom displays and posters
  • Exam practice

Travel and Tourism Course Specific Resources

Whilst the 1000 travel and tourism teaching resources provided are useful for any course specification, I understand that sometimes it is easiest to ‘pick up and go’. Therefore I have created resources for the entire syllabus for the following qualifications:

  • BTEC Teach Award in Travel and Tourism
  • BTEC Level 1/2 Award in Travel and Tourism
  • BTEC Level 3 in Travel and Tourism
  • Cambridge International Travel and Tourism A Level
  • Cambridge IGCSE Travel and Tourism

Travel and tourism topics

The travel and tourism resources cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Travel and tourism industry
  • Tour operations
  • Sustainable/ responsible tourism
  • Travel agency operations
  • Airlines and airports
  • Business tourism
  • Visitor attractions
  • Researching current issues/ research project
  • Types of tourism/ niche tourism
  • Planning an event
  • European tourism
  • Worldwide tourism
  • Tourism and technology
  • Tourism geography
  • Customer service
  • Ancillary revenue management
  • Hospitality
  • Rural tourism
  • Leadership and management
  • Cruise tourism
  • Events and festivals
  • Entertainment in tourism
  • Nature and effects of world travel
  • Destination planning and development
  • Working in travel and tourism
  • Social responsibility
  • Resort Representatives
  • Passenger transport
  • Safety and security
  • Study skills
  • Employability skills
  • Induction and tutorial activities

Who Developed the Travel and Tourism Teaching Resources?

All resources on this website have been created by the resources development team in line with the relevant specifications. Please note that the resources have not been endorsed by any awarding body and that they are the property of Tourism Teacher Ltd. Copyright laws apply.

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Yes- click here to download your free sample travel and tourism teaching resources. 

Who developed the travel and tourism teaching resources?

All of the travel and tourism teaching resources have been developed by Dr Hayley Stainton and the Tourism Teacher team.

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These resources are designed to be used across a range of teaching levels and can be amended to make them easier/more challenging if needed.

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ESOL Courses

Free English Lessons Online

Holidays & Travel - Quizzes, Games & Worksheets

travel and holidays - Free ESL quizzes and activities. Image credit: Petr Kratchovil on

Home | Vocabulary | Travel and Holidays |

Activities and Worksheets for Beginners and Elementary Learners

  • At The Beach - Picture Vocabulary Word Bank
  • At The Beach - Online Picture Matching Quiz
  • At The Beach - Interactive Crossword Puzzle
  • At The Beach - Medium Difficulty Word Search
  • Travel and Holidays - Picture Vocabulary Word Bank
  • Travel and Holidays - Online Picture Quiz
  • Planning a Trip - Picture Vocabulary Word Bank
  • Planning a Trip - Online Picture Quiz
  • At The Airport - Easy Online Word Search Puzzle
  • Online Summertime Word Search - Weather, Sports, and Holiday Activities

Elementary and Pre-Intermediate Exercises

  • Planning a Holiday - Reading Activity
  • Travel and Holidays Gap Fill Exercise
  • Travel and Holidays Vocabulary Quiz
  • Travelling by Plane - Online Crossword Puzzle
  • Travelling by Plane - Medium Difficulty Online Word Search
  • Making Travel Plans - Asking Questions
  • Planning a Holiday - An Integrated Skills Lesson
  • Paris City Beaches - Multiple Choice Listening and Vocabulary Quiz

Intermediate & Advanced Level Reading & Listening Lessons

  • Tourism in The UK (IELTS 5+)
  • UK City Breaks: Bath - Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Bristol - Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Cambridge - Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Cardiff - Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Glasgow - Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Liverpool Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Manchester Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: London Tourist Attractions
  • UK City Breaks: Newcastle Tourist Attractions
  • City Breaks in the North of England - Reading for Information

ESL Lesson Plans - english4tutors

Travel ESL Lesson Plans

  •   A2 Pre-Intermediate
  •   B1 Intermediate
  •   B2 Upper Intermediate
  •   C1 Advanced
  •   C2 Proficiency

Lesson times:

  •   30 min
  •   45 min
  •   60 min
  •   75 min
  •   90 min

Lesson types:

  •   Free
  •   Premium

ESL Travel Lesson Plans

If you are looking for an ESL lesson plan on transportation and travel, look no more. You’re in the right place.  

The seven summits

The seven summits

This lesson plan is created for students at the Upper-Intermediate level,…

Why we travel

Why we travel

This Upper Intermediate lesson plan focuses on expanding travel vocabulary and…

Check out Vienna!

Check out Vienna!

This A2 ESL lesson plan aims to enhance students’ understanding of…

How safe is flying?

How safe is flying?

This C1 lesson plan focuses on expanding aviation vocabulary …

The geography of small talk

The geography of small talk

In this Intermediate lesson plan, students will engage in discussions about the nuances…

Chillin’ in Svalbard

Chillin’ in Svalbard

In this Upper-Intermediate lesson plan, students will learn about must vs. have to.  They will…

If you’re going to San Francisco…

If you’re going to San Francisco…

In this Advanced ESL lesson, the students will learn about the culture of…

Paragliding to work

Paragliding to work

In this Intermediate lesson plan, students will talk about the most popular ways…

Exactly where are we now?

Exactly where are we now?

In this C2 lesson plan, students will practice vocabulary about travel and international borders. They…

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Here you can find ESL lesson plans on transportation and travel for all difficulty levels, both free and premium.

Our offer – Travel English

We are offering ESL lesson plans for you to use during lessons with your students. Lessons are currently available at A2 and  B1 levels , B2, C1 and C2. The duration of each lesson is between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the plan you choose . This means that you can choose a lesson that suits your students’ level as well as your desired lesson length. The plans are designed to make your job as easy as possible and your teaching as effective as possible. Tired of “forcing” your students to speak? Try our lessons, they guarantee all kinds of discussions between students on topics they actually enjoy, since everyone travels sometimes.

Learn travel vocabulary

Our lesson plans focus on travelling, which gives your students a chance to learn language skills that they will most likely use in their lives. This can also make the lessons interesting – the students can share their experiences with travelling, stories about their travels, share their views on different countries, different cultures and various tourist attractions that they have seen. Lessons include current events, such as traveling during the pandemic, all kinds of situations that may occur at the airport, types of luggage you may bring and much more.

Lessons consist of content that should provoke discussion and prevent students from answering with a simple “yes” or “no”. This will help increase student confidence and also make the teacher’s job easier.

What else to expect

All our ESL Travel lesson plans comprise reading comprehensions, entertaining and inspirational videos, grammar rules and exercises, as well as various forms of discussion related to the topic.

Each week you can expect a new lesson to become available.

Currently we have lessons on travel related topics, such as:

  • travelling abroad,
  • travelling by planes,
  • types of luggage,
  • different types of travels and vacations,
  • tourist attraction and different tourist destinations,
  • life-on-the-road experience.

Our lessons in a few words

You can browse through our lessons to find the ones that suit your needs best. There is an overview for each lesson, so you know exactly what kind of vocabulary you will be teaching and what methods you will use.

Lessons include warm up discussions, videos for your students to watch, reading sections and grammar exercises. All of these elements add up to a complete lesson plan that will ensure your students go home with valuable new skills.


lesson on travel and tourism

Level: Intermediate (B1-B2)

Type of English: General English

Tags: travel and leisure controversial issues environment and nature IELTS giving opinions 16-18 years old 18+ years old 13-15 years old

Publication date: 01/24/2023

Students use graphs to launch a discussion about how tourism affects communities. They then define vocabulary related to this topic and examine an IELTS writing task 2 and model answer before exploring linking devices which connect ideas across sentence boundaries. Finally, they prepare to answer a similar discussion/opinion exam question. Exam tips and marking frameworks are provided. There is also an optional extension activity for students to practise part 1 of the IELTS speaking exam with questions about travel and tourism.

This lesson is part of Here and There , one unit in the IELTS A-Z B1/B2 course plan which provides practice in listening, speaking, reading and writing for the IELTS exam. The full lesson plan takes a minimum of 60 minutes.

by Stephanie Hirschman

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Student worksheet

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Students use graphs to launch a discussion about how tourism affects communities. They then define vocabulary related to this topic and examine an IELTS Writing Task 2 and model answer before exploring linking devices which connect ideas across sentence boundaries. Finally, they prepare to answer a similar discussion/opinion exam question. Exam tips and marking frameworks are provided. There is also an optional extension activity for students to practice Part 1 of the IELTS Speaking Exam with questions about travel and tourism.


This comprehensive course plan covers the full range of language needs – listening, role play, vocabulary development.

Worksheets in IELTS Academic course plan

lesson on travel and tourism

Type of English: General English Level: Intermediate (B1-B2)

lesson on travel and tourism

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Terrific Travel and Tourism Language and Vocabulary Lessons

1 talking about travel and culture speaking lesson.

This is an ESL speaking and writing lesson for practicing basic language for talking about travel and culture. First, students complete the sentences with the vocabulary at the bottom of the page. Then they give their own opinions about what they like and dislike about traveling. 

lesson on travel and tourism

Travel and culture vocabulary (PDF)

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2 Tourism & travel ranking/rating vocabulary and discussion lesson (with answers) 

This is an ESL speaking for discussing travel. Students match the vocabulary to the pictures. Then they rank their preferences for the various types of travel experience. Finally, they discuss their preferences.

Travel activity picture -vocabulary matching and ranking exercise for ESL and English language students.

Rating different kinds of travel (PDF)

3 Brainstorming the pros/cons of traveling alone or traveling in groups

This is an exercise for discussing the advantages/disadvantages of traveling alone or traveling in groups . Students look at the pictures and then try to write down their ideas. Then, on the third page of the PDF, they can organize their ideas for a discussion or an essay.

Travel alone or in groups (PDF)

Related Resources for the Hospitality Industry

5 Complaints and Annoyances Speaking and Language Exercises

Food, Restaurants and Cooking Home

10 Food, Eating and Restaurant Vocabulary and Speaking Exercises

8  Hotel Vocabulary and Speaking Skills Exercises

5  Airport and Airline Vocabulary and Language Skills Exercises with Answers

5 Intercultural Communication Language Exercises and Worksheets

5 Cool Advertising & Branding Vocabulary & Language Exercises

Related Cultural Resources:

Celebrations and festivals lesson

Body language and gestures vocabulary exercises

US vs UK vocabulary

Tourism home

4 Speaking skills worksheet: travel situations (with answers)

This is an English language exercise exploring language commonly used in various traveling situations.  Students try to imagine what is being said in each situation and fill in the speech bubbles. Then listen to the audio.

lesson on travel and tourism

Travel situations speaking skills (PDF)

5 Tourism & travel survey and speaking lesson

This is an ESL speaking and writing lesson for giving opinions about tourism and travel. First, students write five survey questions about advertising. There are some examples of questions at the top of the first page of the PDF.  When they have written five questions, they can walk around the class asking classmates their questions and noting down their answers on the worksheet. Finally, they write a short report from their survey question answers. This is a fun communicative exercise that allows students to mix freely.

lesson on travel and tourism

Tourism/travel classroom survey (PDF)

lesson on travel and tourism

2 Replies to “Travel and tourism language and vocabulary lessons”

I am looking for a TESOL Lesson plan for Speaking skills, on ‘A trip to any holiday destination’. Which includes an audio clip and related worksheets. Thanks .

Oh! If I have time.. I really want to do audio clips for these worksheets.

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  • Essential listening exercises for ESL classes
  • Daily routines and schedules
  • Sentence starters
  • Writing topic sentences
  • Shopping online listening, speaking and vocabulary
  • Import/export, logistics and supply chain exercises
  • Create a conversation
  • Using comparative adjectives
  • Gerunds and Infinitives Grammar, Speaking and Listening Activities

Downsides of tourism

  • Global Issues

Speaking class

lesson on travel and tourism

photo of the author


This speaking lesson focuses on talking about tourism and its problems. Students talk about travelling in general and tourism as an industry, watch a video and discuss solutions to the problems. 

This is a Speaking Class worksheet. It includes a variety of tasks that let your students practise their speaking skills. This lesson format does not focus on grammar or vocabulary. Learn more about it here.


This speaking lesson includes an additional warm-up activity that is also a vocabulary revision . Students receive a list of words and try to create ten pairs of synonyms (e.g. hidden gems and lesser-known spots, tourist attraction and landmark , etc.). There is another warm-up in the lesson which focuses on speaking. Students look at the list of famous places (e.g. Venice, the island of Phuket, the Louvre , etc.) and discuss if they are trending and whether they would like to visit them. After that, students look at two terms , overtourism and responsible tourism , and discuss how they are connected. Students complete some sentences talking about tourism more. Then, they watch a video and compare its messages to their ideas. 


Students have a few more activities and continue talking about tourism and its problems. After watching the video, they discuss questions and say whether they consider themselves responsible tourists. Students also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of tourism, about safety and responsibilities. After the discussion, students take a look at the list of common problems that tourism causes (e.g. local traditions are often altered or simplified to suit tourist preferences ) and say whether they have experienced them where they live or while travelling. Talking about tourism, students also look at the solutions to these problems (e.g. educating tourists, introducing quotas, restricting Airbnb , etc. ) and decide whether they would be effective and whose responsibility they should be: governments, travel agents or tourists. Teachers can also ask students about the implementation of these solutions and encourage them to come up with more ideas.

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I like the descriptions of the lesson plans I’m sent but have subscribed to a premium plan which apparently doesn’t give access to the actual material. What is the actual benefit of premium?

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I added some more prompts / options to question 4, as I feel it can help generate conversation and thus make it easier for my students to focus on all the points in the video. Conversely, I removed some of the options from question 6, as I feel they are a bit repetitive. All in all, it is a very interesting lesson, which can easily be adapted for anything from 45 mins to 90 mins teaching time. A big thumbs up from me. Thank you

Thanks for the feedback! I’m glad you enjoyed the lesson and found it adaptable. If you have more suggestions, feel free to share. Thanks again for the thumbs up 🙂

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Lesson Plan: Travel and Tourism Industry


In this lesson, students will differentiate between the hospitality industry and the tourism industry. Learning about each industry's unique functions, students will have a deeper understanding and a better perspective on choosing their career path.

Download the lesson plan

Scroll to the related items section at the bottom of this page for additional resources.

lesson on travel and tourism

13 invaluable life lessons you learn through travel


Recently updated on June 12th, 2024 at 08:18 am

Travel is one of life’s greatest teachers. It pulls you out of your comfort zone and plunges you into the unknown. It reveals a world of cultures to explore and people to meet. And it helps you develop virtues like patience and humility. So whether you explore a new neighbourhood or a new country, here are 13 of the best life lessons you can learn through travel.

1. To enjoy experiences over things

couple mountain viewpoint

One of the greatest lessons you’ll learn through travel is that we need very little to be happy. And it’s not cars, phones or clothes that make us happy – it’s our experiences. A study published in the Journal of Psychological Science revealed that experiences provide more lasting happiness than material possessions. A Trafalgar study showed that 74% of people would rather have experiences over things. When you travel, you’ll form strong bonds with people, learn new skills and create lasting memories.

2. To leave your comfort zone and try new things

cooking noodles street food

If you want to flourish in life, you must get out of your comfort zone and embrace the unknown. If you always stay in a well-worn routine, you’ll never truly expand your horizons. When you travel, you leave behind the familiar and take on a world of new things. You’re constantly learning through travel, with new cultures, friends, foods and languages. You may feel excitement or even fear, but usually never boredom… and it will be one of the most rewarding things you ever do.

GET INSPIRED BY: Splendours of Japan

3. To appreciate different cultures (and our similarities)

woman throwing powder holi celebrations india

One of the best parts of traveling is experiencing different cultures. When you visit a new destination, you become immersed in a culture’s history, language, customs and cuisine. You’ll get to see famous landmarks like a historic temple or palace, take part in a traditional festival, eat at a local restaurant and even try speaking a few phrases. And as you explore the cultural differences, you may also come to find that we’re all not so different after all. Take our tour of London and Paris , for example, where you’ll immerse yourself in both cultures and get a real feel for how the two cities are similar, yet totally unique at the same time.

4. To be patient

Travelling teaches you not to sweat the small stuff. Whether you’re facing long lines at the airport or having trouble communicating in a foreign language, you’ll likely encounter many small frustrations on your journey. These little obstacles are a valuable lesson in patience, and at the end of your trip, you’ll be able to deal with almost anything.

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5. How to make friends with strangers

meeting women at Iraq Al-Amir Women's Co-op Jordan - learning through travel

When you’re learning through travel, you open yourself up to a world of human interaction. Whether you’re meeting fellow travellers on the road or swapping stories over a glass of wine with a local, you’ll find plenty of people are open to chatting. Strike up a conversation, and you might just make a new friend. RELATED CONTENT: 5 benefits of solo travel (And how it will change your life for the better)

6. To never take nature for granted

 man walking nature trail

One of the best things about travel is exploring the natural beauty of the world. On the flip side, you’ll also witness the fragility of our planet. You may visit destinations where clean drinking water is a luxury or where natural disasters have caused mass destruction. You may see forests disappearing, coral reefs dying, or glaciers melting before your eyes. When you travel, you learn to appreciate every natural wonder, every sip of clean water and every bite of healthy food.

GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Switzerland

7. To be spontaneous

You may be a rigid planner at home, but travel teaches you how to go with the flow. Your travel journey won’t always go to plan and when obstacles arise, you must embrace your impulsive side. Sometimes it’s better to let go of the schedule and take a spontaneous adventure. You never know what you may find, and that’s the beauty of it!

8. To appreciate the little things

family looking over city

We’re often so busy in our daily lives, we forget to appreciate the little things. When you travel, you take time to slow down and reflect on your experiences. You treasure the beauty of things we often take for granted, like watching the sunset, savouring a delicious meal, and cherishing your friendships. Travel teaches us it’s the little things that count.

RELATED BLOG: 3 ways Trafalgar’s Make Travel Matter experiences connect you to a destination 

9. To be humble

woman at snowy canada lake

When you open yourself to learning through travel, you are often humbled. You’ll realise just how small your footprint is in our enormous world. You’ll understand how lucky you are and how much you may take for granted in your daily life. You may also often encounter acts of kindness and generosity from strangers who have far less than you. Travel quickly teaches the value of humility.

10. The importance of smiling

african women in traditional dress - learning through travel

We always advise Trafalgar guests to learn a few phrases in the local language before travelling to a new destination. It allows you to communicate more easily with locals and can spark some wonderful interactions. But for the times when words fail, you can always count on a smile. A genuine smile is a universal communicator and expresses friendliness and gratitude. Travel teaches that you can never go wrong with a smile.

11. How to think outside the box

When you travel, there will always be bumps in the road. Anything can happen, from getting lost or getting sick, to dealing with lost luggage or flight delays. You’ll often need to deal with problems without getting completely stressed out. Travel teaches you how to think creatively and adapt to all sorts of situations.

RELATED BLOG: What to pack: Travel Directors share their top tips

12. You are capable

woman walking busy street

One of the most important lessons you learn through travel is that you are more capable than you thought. Travel teaches you confidence, independence and freedom. It boosts your self-awareness and your problem-solving skills. Travel shows you that you can navigate a foreign country, make new friends, and overcome difficult situations. When you realise how powerful you are, your travel journey becomes one of the most transformative experiences of your life.

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13. You never stop learning

trafalgar cooking class - learning through travel

“When you stop learning, you start dying” Albert Einsten

Just because we’ve left school doesn’t mean our education stops. Learning keeps us young, and travel is one of the greatest teachers of all. Travel inspires a sense of wonder and discovery, and there’s an entire world of things to do and people to meet. You could explore a forest or walk down a new street. Try a different cuisine or learn about another culture. When you travel, you never stop learning.

What life lessons have you learned through travel? Let us know in the comments below. ..


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Barcelona protesters throw items and spray travelers with water while shouting 'tourists go home'

Millions flock to Barcelona, Spain, every year to enjoy a sweet taste of idyllic European life. But over the weekend, thousands of people marched through the streets and sprayed visitors with water guns in outrage over mass tourism.

Protesters clapped and chanted “tourists go home!” and carried signs with anti-tourist slogans, arguing that the flood of visitors has driven up living costs for residents. 

About 2,800 people took part, according to the Guàrdia Urbana de Barcelona, the municipal police force, the Spanish paper El País reported. But members of the protest group, the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic, which translates to the Neighborhood Assembly for Tourist Degrowth, say as many as 20,000 joined, the paper reported.

“The tourism and hotels is the group that really makes big money, but all the people are in a very poor situation and they don’t have enough money to live. That’s the problem,” protester Joan Navarro-Bertran said. 

Barcelona is a gem in Western Europe, home to iconic sites like La Sagrada Familia — a cathedral designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudi that has been under construction for more than 100 years — sparkling blue beaches and famous local cuisine. 

Tourism is also a major part of the local economy. Last year, about 26 million people visited the Barcelona area, spending 9.6 billion euros (US$10.4 billion) in the city, according to the Tourism Observatory of Barcelona .

A great part of the agitation among residents is the increasing price of housing and the displacement of long-term residents.

Rent has risen nearly 70% over the past decade, Mayor Jaume Collboni said, the BBC reported. In June, Collboni announced a plan to stop renewing permits for rentals used by foreign visitors by 2028, a move that would make 10,000 units available to locals in four years. 

Breaking News Reporter

Is This the Comeback of Sri Lanka’s Tourism? $1.5 Billion Revenue Suggests So

Peden Doma Bhutia , Skift

July 10th, 2024 at 3:19 AM EDT

Through a combination of targeted promotions, improved airline services, and strategic visa policies, Sri Lanka is inching closer to its goal of attracting 2.5 million tourists this year.

Peden Doma Bhutia

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry is witnessing a resurgence. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka reported that earnings from tourism soared to over $1.5 billion in the first half of 2024, marking a 78% increase year-on-year.

Tourist arrivals hit 1.01 million, up 62% from the same period in 2023. By June 2024, tourism earnings had climbed to $151.1 million, a 23% increase year-on-year, despite a slight month-on-month decline.

The $1.5 billion revenue surge in the first six months is important, especially considering it took Sri Lanka 10 months last year to reach $1.59 billion in tourism earnings from 1.1 million arrivals. The tourism sector’s earnings exceeded $2 billion in 2023.

Tourism arrivals peaked in 2018 in Sri Lanka, when 2.5 million tourists spent $4.4 billion in the country.

lesson on travel and tourism

Sri Lanka’s Tourism Resurgence

This growth is particularly noteworthy considering the economic turmoil Sri Lanka faced just two years ago. In 2022, the country declared a state of emergency amid severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines, leading to widespread anti-government protests.

Since the devastating Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, Sri Lanka’s tourism industry has faced numerous challenges. However, the sector’s resilience and the government’s proactive measures have begun to pay off.

As per the latest tourism data in the first week of July, Sri Lanka Tourism welcomed a total of 43,083 tourists.

This year, Sri Lanka rolled out its global tourism marketing campaign urging tourists “You’ll Come Back for More,” marking the first such campaign since 2007.

Sri Lanka also aims to welcome 2.5 million tourists and attract revenue worth $4 billion by the end of this year.

India: The Top Source Market

India remains Sri Lanka’s top source market, contributing around 19% of total tourist arrivals. From January to July 7, 198,161 Indian tourists visited Sri Lanka.

To attract more Indian travelers, Sri Lanka is conducting roadshows in smaller Indian cities like Indore, Vadodara, and Surat.

As part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate its tourism sector and reach a target of 5 million arrivals by 2026, Sri Lanka announced it would issue free tourist visas until March for visitors from India, China, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia. This visa-free entry permits visitors from these countries to stay in Sri Lanka for up to 30 days.

In May, the government extended this visa-free entry until May 31. While no further extension has been officially announced, Skift discovered that the visa exemption still applies to tourists from these seven countries, now with a $10 service fee.

SriLankan Airlines’ Role

SriLankan Airlines is also playing a key role in this recovery. CEO Richard Nuttall noted the airline’s plans to expand its fleet to 25 aircraft by the end of the year, increasing flight frequencies on existing routes and introducing new destinations. Currently, the airline operates direct and codeshare flights to 114 destinations across 62 countries.

The airline has also reported positive performance on its Indian routes, with high yields and a 74% average load factor. The airline has direct services to 9 Indian cities.

Nuttall said the priority is to increase flight frequencies on existing routes once the airline’s strengthens its fleet later this year. Speaking to Business Standard last month, Nuttall said transit traffic from Europe via India to Colombo has tripled since the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the airline would look to first increase its frequencies to destinations like Delhi and Mumbai and also plans to start flights from one or two new destinations in India by next year.

Currently, SriLankan Airlines has 18 codeshare partnerships with other airlines, including Air India. The airline said it has also been in discussion with Middle Eastern and South Asian carriers for new codeshare partnerships.

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Tags: asia monthly , destination marketing , india outbound , sri lanka , SriLankan Airlines , visa waiver

Photo credit: Mirissa Beach in Sri Lanka. Daniel Klein / Unsplash

lesson on travel and tourism

Mayor of Athens says tourism in Greece isn’t ‘viable’ anymore as each visitor only adds €0.40 to the economy

S ummers in Athens are about historical sights like the Parthenon, colorful markets and plates of souvlakis. But lately, it’s gotten hard to cope with the number of people chasing those exact things. 

Authorities in the Greek capital of Athens have lamented the city's tipping into overtourism territory, making crowds unmanageable . To control that, the city capped the number of tourists who could visit the Acropolis to 20,000 last year, as tourists flocked to Greece beyond just the summertime. 

Tourism is a double-edged sword in Greece. The number of visitors has exploded beyond control, growing by 120% between 2019 and 2023. But since Greece derives 25-30% of its GDP from tourist activities—with that number soaring to 90% on the island of Santorini—cracking down on it isn’t easy.

Still, the headache of excessive visitors and its impact on local communities and the city itself has made tourism in its current form isn’t sustainable, Athens’s Mayor Harris Doukas said.         

“Each visitor brings €0.40 to the city, and we haven’t seen this money yet,” Doukas told Euronews . “We need to find a way to make tourism viable.”

Last year, a whopping 33 million tourists visited Greece—over thrice the country’s population. More tourism means a greater economic boost by propping up local business activities. But they’ve resulted in a disproportionate strain on infrastructure, housing and environmental resources. These are particularly pressing as Greece grapples with the aftermath of wildfires in recent years. 

“It turns out that the pressures exerted by tourism on the environment are linked to the change of land uses (due to the creation of new infrastructure and other facilities for tourist use), and specifically with the expansion of the urban environment at the expense of the natural,” a government report on sustainable tourism found as part of a broader effort to change Greece’s approach towards tourism.  

Earlier this year, Greece introduced a “ climate crisis resilience tax ” that aims to raise funds that can help it address natural disasters by charging tourists through their hotel bills.    

Managing overtourism in a delicate yet firm way

Given its relationship with the tourism and hospitality sectors, Greece has tried to manage its visitors with a raft of measures, including extending the vacation season to a longer period and fining beach-bound tourists who take up too much space with their sunbeds and umbrellas. 

"Our goal is to protect both the environment and the right of citizens to access the beach freely, and to preserve our tourism product as well as healthy entrepreneurship," Economy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said in a statement, according to Agence France-Presse.

Travel demand was nearly zilch three years ago at the pandemic's peak. But it has since come back roaring—and several other European cities are also facing the heat of it. Italy and the Netherlands are grappling with a phenomenon similar to Greece's.

In response to the threat of overtourism, Amsterdam has curbed the construction of new hotels and plans to limit cruise ship dockings in its harbor , while Venice has introduced an entry fee for its visitors as of this summer. 

With visitor numbers steadily rising, countries now face a delicate balance between promoting and limiting tourism, especially where it’s a crucial piece of the economy.

This story was originally featured on

Crowds of visitots standing near the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, pictured in March 2024.

Fed up with tourists, Barcelona protesters blast them with water guns

Locals marched and delivered a manifesto on tourism’s cost-of-living impact, the latest backlash against a global travel surge since the end of pandemic limits.

lesson on travel and tourism

Key takeaways

Summary is AI-generated, newsroom-reviewed.

  • Demonstrators say that tourism inflates living costs and that revenue distribution is uneven.
  • They made 13 demands, including limits on tourist accommodations and fewer cruise terminals.
  • The frustration in Spain reflects a growing backlash against overtourism around the world.

Did our AI help? Share your thoughts.

Thousands took to the streets of Barcelona over the weekend to protest overtourism , some armed with brightly colored water pistols that sent bewildered visitors fleeing restaurant patios, abandoning half-eaten meals.

The protesters, who carried signs reading “Tourists go home,” say tourism has inflated the cost of living for Barcelonians, while the revenue from visitors hasn’t been fairly distributed across the city. As travel rebounds after the end of pandemic restrictions, the frustration in Spain reflects growing backlash against overtourism around the world.

  • Led by the Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turístic, or the Neighborhood Assembly for Tourism Degrowth, the protesters listed 13 demands in a manifesto published Saturday, including restrictions on tourist accommodations, fewer cruise terminals in the city’s port and an end to tourism advertisements using public money.
  • Local authorities estimated 2,800 people participated in the protests. Daniel Pardo Rivacoba, 48, a member of the organizing group, said as many as 20,000 people from 170 organizations took part in the protests.
  • Rivacoba said the use of water guns was a spontaneous decision made by individual protesters and was not suggested by organizers. “Receiving water on your face is not nice, but it’s not violent,” he said.
  • Responding to growing concerns, Barcelona Mayor Jaume Collboni pledged Saturday to reserve 10,000 residential units usually used by tourists for local residents and increase taxes on tourists, among other measures.

Barcelona has long been a popular tourist destination. Last year, close to 26 million visited the region, according to official figures , and Spain was the second-most-visited country in the world, according to U.N. Tourism . Barcelona’s population is 1.7 million.

Along with Venice , it is where the backlash against overtourism began, said T.C. Chang, a professor of geography at the National University of Singapore who researches urban tourism.

“As far as I know, there has been no explicit violence. But [overtourism] was already recognized at least 2-3 years before the pandemic,” he said in an email, noting that residents have also put up “No tourists welcome” signs in neighborhoods. “What has happened in Barcelona will spread to more tourist-crowded places beyond Europe,” he added.

The bigger picture

Locales in Japan , Indonesia , Greece , Italy and the Netherlands have also taken steps to curb influxes of visitors in the past year.

In Japan, one town sought to install a huge screen at a popular photo spot in front of Mount Fuji to stop tourists from taking selfies and causing traffic jams. Last year, the Greek government imposed a new timed ticketing system for the ancient Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with a visitor cap of 20,000 people per day. Venice experimented with extracting extra fees from tourists, while Amsterdam restricted the construction of new hotels.

“I think the key point here is about sustainable tourism development and sustainable management of tourist flows within a country,” said J.J. Zhang, a tourism geographer at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

As a possible solution, Zhang suggested determining the capacity of popular sites and controlling traffic, such as by “using technology where real-time data can be communicated to tourists such that overcrowded places could be avoided,” he said.

But Bob McKercher, a professor in tourism at the University of Queensland in Australia, raised another issue: The majority of tourists worldwide are domestic. “So while overtourism may be a long-standing issue,” he said, “can you really stop people from visiting their own country?”

Beatriz Ríos contributed to this report.

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