How and When Did Tourism Start?

Most of us love to travel and when we think about travelling, what we probably have in mind are the best two or three weeks of the year. Tourism has become a major industry and it creates around 100 million jobs worldwide.

History of tourism - Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev from Pexels

Achim Riemann

In 1854, the first travel agency opened. In 1869, one of the first group tours was launched. It included attendance at the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt.

But how did it all start?

A long time ago, people initially moved around for practical reasons, such as looking for food or water, or fleeing natural disasters or enemies. But as early as ancient Egypt and in the other “high” cultures found throughout the continents at the time, people started to travel for religious reasons. They set out on pilgrimages, for example to Mecca, or on journeys to take a ritual bath in the Ganges River. That was the beginning of tourism.

What about modern tourism?

Modern tourism can be traced back to the so-called “Grand Tour”, which was an educational journey across Europe. One of the first who embarked on this journey was the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Wladyslaw IV Vasa, also known as Wladislaus Sigismundus, Prince of Poland and Sweden. And yes, the grand tour was just for the super-rich. In 1624, Wladyslaw travelled to Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and the Czech Republic. (1)

Poor or even normal people had neither the money nor the time to go on a holiday. However, that started to change at the end of the 19th century. Around 1880, employees in Europe and North America were granted their first work-free days besides Sundays and the mostly Christian holidays, such as Easter or Christmas. These extra work-free days were usually unpaid in the beginning. Since most people couldn’t spare the money for travel, this led to excursions into the surroundings rather than travelling.

History of tourism - Photo by Rachel Claire from Pexels

The founders of international “tourism” in Europe were the British

Thomas Cook is considered the founder of what is known as organized “package” holidays. In the last decades of the 19th century, the upper social classes in England were so wealthy due to the income from the British Empire that they were the first to be able to afford trips to far-flung areas. (1)

In 1854, the first travel agency opened. In 1869, one of the first group tours was launched. It included attendance at the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt. From 1889, people took holiday cruises on steamships with musical performances. Seaside holidays became really popular around 1900 (and continue to be popular to this today). From the 1970s onwards, many in the industrialised countries could finally afford a holiday trip. The first criticism over this arose at the beginning of the 1970s: due to tourism, there were as many tourists in Spain in 1973 as there were inhabitants. (2)

In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, 1.5 billion tourist arrivals were recorded around the world, a 4% increase compared to 2018's figures. The most visited countries in 2019 were France with 89 million tourists, followed by Spain with 83 million tourists and the United States with 80 million tourists. China and Italy sit at fourth and fifth places, respectively, with 63 million tourists in China and 62 million tourists in Italy. (3)

And what are the most visited tourist attractions worldwide? According to a recent research from TripAdvisor, these are the top five: the Colosseum (Italy), the Louvre (France), the Vatican, the Statue of Liberty (USA), the Eiffel Tower (France) (4).

  • Wikipedia: , 12.03.2022
  • Wikipedia: , 12.03.2022
  • TravelBook:
  • Travel Wanderlust:  12.03.2022

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How American Tourism Began

American tourism took the scenic route over the course of the twentieth century. A growing middle class and car ownership helped.

Old photo of a couple at Niagra

This summer, will you travel to a beach , a national park , or maybe a local campground ? Today, trips like these are often within reach of the average American family. But that’s a relatively new development. In a paper for The Journal of Economic History , Thomas Weiss explains how tourism went from an uncommon pastime for elites to a thoroughly middle-class activity .

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Weiss writes that, in general, the first European settlers in America were simply too busy eking out a living to take a vacation. Besides, Puritans and Anglican values discouraged anything even remotely like lying on a beach drinking a margarita. And yet, as early as the 1660s, some Americans were traveling for relaxation, often heading to spas and mineral springs. Among those taking the waters in Virginia a century later was George Washington. Although people claimed the point was to cure an ailment or maintain their health, Weiss writers that spa trips were clearly a “fashionable indulgence.”

In the early nineteenth century, a few scenic destinations became hot spots for tourism, most notably Niagara Falls. In fact, by the 1860s it was so popular that travelers complained that souvenir sellers and aggressive guides had spoiled the place. Still, Weiss estimates that only around 1 percent of the nation’s population visited a spa or other tourist destination in 1860.

Tourism started to become more popular after the Civil War, thanks largely to the development of railroads, though it remained an elite activity. Trains brought travelers to the Jersey Shore and the Florida Coast, and hotels blossomed from Coney Island to San Francisco. Urban Americans headed to the mountains for camping trips, while others explored the restaurants and sights of the major cities. Because transportation was slow and required advance planning, tourists didn’t take quick overnight trips. Vacations meant an extended stay.

That changed in the early twentieth century as cars began populating the landscape. Developers built roadside camps, then cabins and hotels. Small, local attractions popped up everywhere, and major destinations benefited from auto travel. In 1916, around 30,000 visitors traveled to Yellowstone National Park , the majority coming by train. Two decades later, 409,000 people arrived at the park in cars.

By 1930, Weiss writes, more than 5 percent of the population traveled to a well-known tourist attraction each year, and many more clearly stopped at more obscure destinations. The notion of taking vacations had begun to extend into the middle class.

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The basic form of tourism may have been established by World War II, but the scale of the activity changed dramatically in the post-war years. The growth of car ownership, rising middle-class wealth, newly established paid vacation benefits for many workers, and the advent of air travel all contributed to a tourism boom.

And that boom continues today. This year, AAA says a third of Americans will take a family vacation. Of course, that still means two thirds of us won’t. As a recent New York Times story pointed out, many families in the country can’t afford to take time off of work, or to send the kids to a summer camp. To some extent, vacations remain an elite activity.

Read about Ken Ilgunas’s “sort of illegal” hike across the Heartland in “ Backpacking Across ‘Stand Your Ground’ Territory ” on Public Books.

Editor’s note: This page was updated to fix the broken link to “Backpacking Across ‘Stand Your Ground’ Territory.”

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UN Tourism | Bringing the world closer


The Future Past of Tourism: Historical Perspectives and Future Evolutions

Journal of Tourism Futures

ISSN : 2055-5911

Article publication date: 23 July 2020

Issue publication date: 23 July 2020

Wong, B.K.M. and Ng, C.H. (2020), "The Future Past of Tourism: Historical Perspectives and Future Evolutions", Journal of Tourism Futures , Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 193-195.

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Brian Kee Mun Wong and Chin Hooi Ng.

Published in Journal of Tourism Futures . Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this license may be seen at

Tourism is an activity that is well-liked by all walks of life. However, was tourism always as vibrant and easily accessible from the beginning? And how would the tourism industry be in the future? The book The Future Past of Tourism: Historical Perspectives and Future Evolutions by Ian Yeoman and Una McMahon-Beattie explores the turning points that helped shape the tourism industry to what it is today and potential turning points in the future. The book comprises 19 chapters, presented in six parts: globalization, the development of destinations, mobility, the hotel, diversification into niche tourism and evolution. The introductory chapter provides the readers the rationale and the overall structure of the book.

Part 1 on globalization covers two chapters. Chapter 2 provides an insight on the various turning points that led to today’s definition of tourism, such as the Grand Tour of Europe, mass tourism, modern tourism, nature and pilgrimage. The chapter also proposes the factors of future of tourism such as global economy of tourism, cultural capital and family structure. Chapter 3 further examines the development of mass tourism as it is one of the world’s largest industries, comprising 9% of GDP and 6% of world exports. The Industrial Revolution made mass travelling possible through the availability of steam trains and steam ships. While the Western continents have often been the centre of tourism historically, the future of tourism is shifting towards Asia and Africa. The chapter also highlights the risk of over-tourism as travellers continue to visit popular destinations.

Part 2 instils the development of destinations. Chapters 4 and 5 offer case studies on destination development processes in Malta and Ireland. As the Malta tourism industry expanded, issues such as inadequate public infrastructure and over-development of accommodations arose. While a series of proactive policies were in place to improve the overall tourism situation, the digitization of virtual experiences is something the nation is considering for visitation in the future. Ireland is portrayed as a touristic nation through a series of turning points. Its luxurious identity, accommodations that represent the livelihood of the locals, history and culture are among the key tourism development propositions highlighted in Chapter 5. As major cities around the world grew, it began to attract various types of travellers and hence enhanced tourism activities. Thus, Chapter 6 depicts the growth, decline and resurgence of the city-states in the tourism development process. The transition of the city-states into territorial states in the future remains part of the continuous cyclic process of development. As China became a major travel destination, Chapter 7 offers a good glimpse of its coastal tourism development from 1841 to 2017. The future of the Chinese coastal tourism relies on the implementation of controlling bodies with increasing standard setting and personalization through banalization and restrictive access.

Part 3 presents the transportation mobility development in the tourism industry. Chapter 8 discusses the aircraft technology development as one of the significant milestones in shaping the tourism of today, enabling travellers to travel further and faster at a more affordable price, with the potential to exclude stopover(s). Chapter 9 provides another tourism mobility option, cruise ships. As one of the fastest growing sectors, cruise tourism has undergone several innovative changes that have made it into a popular choice. Chapter 10 further elaborates the evolution of energy and transportation options along with its effects on tourism. This is essential as new forms of eco-friendly transportation are required to ensure future tourism sustainability.

Part 4 briefly touches on the hotel sector. Chapter 11 covers the historical and future turning points of the hotel sector. The evolution of hotel as a temporary dwelling for tourists to hotel chains and the current shared-service accommodation concept are articulated. Chapter 12 examines a case study on employment issues and challenges in New Zealand tourism hotel sector. It further elaborates two scenarios of the industry: dystopia and utopia, which perhaps shape the future of the industry.

Part 5 consists of six chapters that dwell into the diversification of niche tourism products. Chapter 13 examines how film influences the travelling behaviour of travellers. Movies such as The Third Man , The Quiet Man , The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones boosted the film tourism market. With the advancement of technology, augmented reality or virtual reality is deemed to be the future mode of such tourism portfolios. Chapter 14 provides an overview of the Grand Tour development in Europe. With new digital tools, travellers continue to desire for knowledge enhancement and self-development, and thus the educational travel or study tours are developed. As Chapter 15 focusses on identifying the factors contributing to tourist retail development in heritage villages, Chapter 16 clarifies the role of religion in influencing its past and current patterns and practices in tourism industry. Chapter 17 covers the development of mountaineering tourism. Despite climate change affecting such niche tourism product, it continues to be popular to the extent of being a global sport. Part 5 ends with an examination on the past incidences and issues and future expectations on tourism sustainability in Scotland.

Part 6 on evolution describes in Chapter 19 how the past shapes the future of tourism industry as a recap of previous chapters and uses the cognitive mapping perspective. While the key historical turning points include mindfulness, mobility, step changes determining mass tourism and leisure class of consumption, the future turning points are proposed to be fluid identity, sustainable futures, ubiquitous future and mass maturity.

Overall, the book is recommended for researchers to obtain inspiration in developing new research themes, as the chapters offer substantial turning points in the past and the future of the tourism industry. Most of the content is relevant, and the flow of the chapters is well planned. Critically, Part 4: The Hotel, can be further enhanced by describing the influence of technology advancement and digital-based content on shaping the future of the hotel sector. The use of cognitive mapping in summarizing the chapters is interesting and useful. The ability of the authors to summarize the historical and to propose the future turning points shall be applauded. In the current disruptive business environment, it is essential to adopt technology in developing smart tourism concept ( Arenasa et al. , 2019 ). However, moving forward to the Industry Revolution 5.0, the future of the tourism industry relies on not only superior usage of technology but also the re-enactment of human element ( Wong, 2016 ) to establish an emotional connection.

Arenasa , A.E. , Goh , J.M. and Urueña , A. ( 2019 ), “ How does IT affect design centricity approaches: evidence from Spain’s smart tourism ecosystem ”, International Journal of Information Management , Vol. 45 , pp. 149 - 162 .

Wong , B.K.M. ( 2016 ), “ The human face of marketing ”, The Financial Daily , p. 24 .

About the authors

Brian Kee Mun Wong is based at KDU University College – Utropolis Glenmarie, Shah Alam Selangor, Malaysia. He, Wong holds a Ph.D. in Tourism Management from the University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur. He is currently heading the School of Business at UOW Malaysia KDU University College. His main research areas is are in tourism, international retirement migration, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Chin Hooi Ng is based at the School of Business, KDU University College – Utropolis Glenmarie, Shah Alam Selangor, Malaysia. He, Ng currently is a DBA candidate and holds an MBA from the from University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He is currently the Deputy Head of School of UOW Malaysia Business at KDU University College. His main research areas is inare fintech, marketing, and management.

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Chapter 1. History and Overview

Learning Objectives

  • Specify the commonly understood definitions of tourism and tourist
  • Classify tourism into distinct industry groups using North American Industry Classification Standards (NAICS)
  • Define hospitality  
  • Gain knowledge about the origins of the tourism industry
  • Provide an overview of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of tourism worldwide
  • Understand the history of tourism development in Canada and British Columbia
  • Analyze the value of tourism in Canada and British Columbia
  • Identify key industry associations and understand their mandates

What Is Tourism?

Before engaging in a study of tourism , let’s have a closer look at what this term means.

Definition of Tourism

There are a number of ways tourism can be defined, and for this reason, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)  embarked on a project from 2005 to 2007 to create a common glossary of terms for tourism. It defines tourism as follows:

Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes. These people are called visitors (which may be either tourists or excursionists; residents or non-residents) and tourism has to do with their activities, some of which imply tourism expenditure (United Nations World Tourism Organization, 2008).

Using this definition, we can see that tourism is the movement of people for a number of purposes (whether business or pleasure).

Definition of Tourist

Building on the definition of tourism, a commonly accepted description of a  tourist is “someone who travels at least 80 km from his or her home for at least 24 hours, for business or leisure or other reasons” (LinkBC, 2008, p.8). The United Nations World Tourism Organization (1995) helps us break down this definition further by stating tourists can be:

  • Domestic (residents of a given country travelling only within that country)
  • Inbound (non-residents travelling in a given country)
  • Outbound (residents of one country travelling in another country)

The scope of tourism, therefore, is broad and encompasses a number of activities.

Spotlight On: United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible “for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism” (UNWTO, 2014b). Its membership includes 156 countries and over 400 affiliates such as private companies and non-governmental organizations. It promotes tourism as a way of developing communities while encouraging ethical behaviour to mitigate negative impacts. For more information, visit the UNWTO website :

NAICS: The North American Industry Classification System

Given the sheer size of the tourism industry, it can be helpful to break it down into broad industry groups using a common classification system. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) was jointly created by the Canadian, US, and Mexican governments to ensure common analysis across all three countries (British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, 2013a). The tourism-related groupings created using NAICS are (in alphabetical order):

  • Accommodation
  • Food and beverage services (commonly known as “F & B”)
  • Recreation and entertainment
  • Transportation
  • Travel services

These industry groups are based on the similarity of the “labour processes and inputs” used for each (Government of Canada, 2013). For instance, the types of employees and resources required to run an accommodation business — whether it be a hotel, motel, or even a campground — are quite similar. All these businesses need staff to check in guests, provide housekeeping, employ maintenance workers, and provide a place for people to sleep. As such, they can be grouped together under the heading of accommodation. The same is true of the other four groupings, and the rest of this text explores these industry groups, and other aspects of tourism, in more detail. 


The Hospitality Industry

When looking at tourism it’s important to consider the term  hospitality . Some define hospitality as “the business of helping people to feel welcome and relaxed and to enjoy themselves” (Discover Hospitality, 2015, ¶ 3). Simply put, the hospitality industry is the combination of the accommodation and food and beverage groupings, collectively making up the largest segment of the industry. You’ll learn more about accommodations and F & B in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, respectively. 

Before we seek to understand the five industry groupings in more detail, it’s important to have an overview of the history and impacts of tourism to date.

Global Overview

Origins of tourism.

Travel for leisure purposes has evolved from an experience reserved for very few people into something enjoyed by many. Historically, the ability to travel was reserved for royalty and the upper classes. From ancient Roman times through to the 17th century, young men of high standing were encouraged to travel through Europe on a “grand tour” (Chaney, 2000). Through the Middle Ages, many societies encouraged the practice of religious pilgrimage, as reflected in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and other literature.

The word hospitality  predates the use of the word tourism , and first appeared in the 14th century. It is derived from the Latin hospes , which encompasses the words guest, host , and foreigner (Latdict, 2014). The word tourist  appeared in print much later, in 1772 (Griffiths and Griffiths, 1772). William Theobald suggests that the word  tour  comes from Greek and Latin words for circle and turn, and that tourism and tourist  represent the activities of   circling away from home, and then returning (Theobald, 1998).

Tourism Becomes Business

Cox & Kings, the first known travel agency, was founded in 1758 when Richard Cox became official travel agent of the British Royal Armed Forces (Cox & Kings, 2014).  Almost 100 years later, in June 1841, Thomas Cook opened the first leisure travel agency, designed to help Britons improve their lives by seeing the world and participating in the temperance movement. In 1845, he ran his first commercial packaged tour, complete with cost-effective railway tickets and a printed guide (Thomas Cook, 2014).

The continued popularity of rail travel and the emergence of the automobile presented additional milestones in the development of tourism. In fact, a long journey taken by Karl Benz’s wife in 1886 served to kick off interest in auto travel and helped to publicize his budding car company, which would one day become Mercedes Benz (Auer, 2006). We take a closer look at the importance of car travel later this chapter, and of transportation to the tourism industry in Chapter 2.

Fast forward to 1952 with the first commercial air flights from London, England, to Johannesburg, South Africa, and Colombo, Sri Lanka (Flightglobal, 2002) and the dawn of the jet age, which many herald as the start of the modern tourism industry. The 1950s also saw the creation of Club Méditérannée (Gyr, 2010) and similar club holiday destinations, the precursor of today’s all-inclusive resorts.

The decade that followed is considered to have been a significant period in tourism development, as more travel companies came onto the scene, increasing competition for customers and moving toward “mass tourism, introducing new destinations and modes of holidaying” (Gyr, 2010, p. 32).

Industry growth has been interrupted at several key points in history, including World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. At the start of this century, global events thrust international travel into decline including the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center in New York City (known as 9/11), the war in Iraq, perceived threat of future terrorist attacks, and health scares including SARS, BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy), and West Nile virus (Government of Canada, 2006).

At the same time, the industry began a massive technological shift as increased internet use revolutionized travel services. Through the 2000s, online travel bookings grew exponentially, and by 2014 global leader Expedia had expanded to include brands such as, the Hotwire Group, trivago, and Expedia CruiseShip Centers, earning revenues of over $4.7 million (Expedia Inc., 2013).

A more in-depth exploration of the impact of the online marketplace, and other trends in global tourism, is provided in Chapter 14. But as you can already see, the impacts of the global tourism industry today are impressive and far reaching. Let’s have a closer look at some of these outcomes.

Tourism Impacts

Tourism impacts can be grouped into three main categories: economic, social, and environmental. These impacts are analyzed using data gathered by businesses, governments, and industry organizations.

Economic Impacts

According to a UNWTO report, in 2011, “international tourism receipts exceeded US$1 trillion for the first time” (UNWTO, 2012). UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai stated this excess of $1 trillion was especially important news given the global economic crisis of 2008, as tourism could help rebuild still-struggling economies, because it is a key export and labour intensive (UNWTO, 2012). 

Four students dressed in formal business attire.

Tourism around the world is now worth over $1 trillion annually, and it’s a growing industry almost everywhere. Regions with the highest growth in terms of tourism dollars earned are the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and Africa. Only the Middle East posted negative growth at the time of the report (UNWTO, 2012).

While North and South America are growing the fastest, Europe continues to lead the way in terms of overall percentage of dollars earned (UNWTO, 2012):

  • Europe (45%)
  • Asia and the Pacific (28%)
  • North and South America (19%)
  • Middle East (4%)

Global industry growth and high receipts are expected to continue. In its August 2014 expenditure barometer, the UNWTO found worldwide visitation had increased by 22 million people in the first half of the year over the previous year, to reach 517 million visits (UNWTO, 2014a). As well, the UNWTO’s  Tourism 2020 Vision predicts that international arrivals will reach nearly 1.6 billion by 2020. Read more about the Tourism 2020 Vision :

Social Impacts

A First Nations totem pole.

In addition to the economic benefits of tourism development, positive social impacts include an increase in amenities (e.g., parks, recreation facilities), investment in arts and culture, celebration of First Nations people, and community pride. When developed conscientiously, tourism can, and does, contribute to a positive quality of life for residents.

However, as identified by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2003a), negative social impacts of tourism can include:

  • Change or loss of indigenous identity and values
  • Culture clashes
  • Physical causes of social stress (increased demand for resources)
  • Ethical issues (such as an increase in sex tourism or the exploitation of child workers)

Some of these issues are explored in further detail in Chapter 12, which examines the development of Aboriginal tourism in British Columbia.

Environmental Impacts

Tourism relies on, and greatly impacts, the natural environment in which it operates. Even though many areas of the world are conserved in the form of parks and protected areas, tourism development can have severe negative impacts. According to UNEP (2003b), these can include:

  • Depletion of natural resources (water, forests, etc.)
  • Pollution (air pollution, noise, sewage, waste and littering)
  • Physical impacts (construction activities, marina development, trampling, loss of biodiversity)

The environmental impacts of tourism can reach outside local areas and have an effect on the global ecosystem. One example is increased air travel, which is a major contributor to climate change. Chapter 10 looks at the environmental impacts of tourism in more detail.

Whether positive or negative, tourism is a force for change around the world, and the industry is transforming at a staggering rate. But before we delve deeper into our understanding of tourism, let’s take a look at the development of the sector in our own backyard.

Canada Overview

Origins of tourism in canada.

Tourism has long been a source of economic development for our country. Some argue that as early as 1534 the explorers of the day, such as Jacques Cartier, were Canada’s first tourists (Dawson, 2004), but most agree the major developments in Canada’s tourism industry followed milestones in the transportation sector: by rail, by car, and eventually, in the skies.

Railway Travel: The Ties That Bind

A train.

The dawn of the railway age in Canada came midway through the 19th century. The first railway was launched in 1836 (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.), and by the onset of World War I in 1914, four railways dominated the Canadian landscape: Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), Canadian Northern Railway (CNOR), the Grand Trunk Railway (GTR), and the Grand Trunk Pacific (GTP). Unfortunately, their rapid expansion soon brought the last three into near bankruptcy (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.).

In 1923, these three rail companies were amalgamated into the Canadian National Railway (CNR), and together with the CPR, these trans-continentals dominated the Canadian travel landscape until other forms of transportation became more popular. In 1978, with declining interest in rail travel, the CPR and CNR were forced to combine their passenger services to form VIA Rail (Library and Archives Canada, n.d.).

The Rise of the Automobile

The rising popularity of car travel was partially to blame for the decline in rail travel, although it took time to develop. When the first cross-country road trip took place in 1912, there were only 16 kilometres of paved road across Canada (MacEachern, 2012). Cars were initially considered a nuisance, and the National Parks Branch banned entry to automobiles, but later slowly began to embrace them. By the 1930s, some parks, such as Cape Breton Highlands National Park, were actually created to provide visitors with scenic drives (MacEachern, 2012).

It would take decades before a coast-to-coast highway was created, with the Trans-Canada Highway officially opening in Revelstoke in 1962. When it was fully completed in 1970, it was the longest national highway in the world, spanning one-fifth of the globe (MacEachern, 2012).

Early Tourism Promotion

As early as 1892, enterprising Canadians like the Brewsters became the country’s first tour operators, leading guests through areas such as Banff National Park (Brewster Travel Canada, 2014). Communities across Canada developed their own marketing strategies as transportation development took hold. For instance, the town of Maisonneuve in Quebec launched a campaign from 1907 to 1915 calling itself “Le Pittsburg du Canada.” And by 1935 Quebec was spending $250,000 promoting tourism, with Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia also enjoying established provincial tourism bureaus (Dawson, 2004).

National Airlines

Our national airline, Air Canada, was formed in 1937 as Trans-Canada Air Lines. In many ways, Air Canada was a world leader in passenger aviation, introducing the world’s first computerized reservations system in 1963 ( Globe and Mail , 2014). Through the 1950s and 1960s, reduced airfares saw increased mass travel. Competitors including Canadian Pacific (which became Canadian Airlines in 1987) began to launch international flights during this time to Australia, Japan, and South America ( Canadian Geographic, 2000). By 2000, Air Canada was facing financial peril and forced to restructure. A numbered company, owned in part by Air Canada, purchased 82% of Canadian Airline’s shares, with the result of Air Canada becoming the country’s only national airline ( Canadian Geographic, 2000).

Parks and Protected Areas

A look at the evolution of tourism in Canada would be incomplete without a quick study of our national parks and protected areas. The official conserving of our natural spaces began around the same time as the railway boom, and in 1885 Banff was established as Canada’s first national park. By 1911, the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act created the Dominion Parks Branch, the first of its kind in the world (Shoalts, 2011).

The systemic conservation and celebration of Canada’s parks over the next century would help shape Canada’s identity, both at home and abroad. Through the 1930s, conservation officers and interpreters were hired to enhance visitor experiences. By 1970, the National Park System Plan divided Canada into 39 regions, with the goal of preserving each distinct ecosystem for future generations. In 1987, the country’s first national marine park was established in Ontario, and in the 20 years that followed, 10 new national parks and marine conservation areas were created (Shoalts, 2011).

The role of parks and protected areas in tourism is explored in greater detail in Chapter 5 (recreation) and Chapter 10 (environmental stewardship).

Global Shock and Industry Decline

As with the global industry, Canada’s tourism industry was impacted by world events such as the Great Depression and the World Wars.

More recently, global events such as 9/11, the SARS outbreak, and the war in Iraq took their toll on tourism receipts. Worldwide arrivals to Canada dropped 1% to 694 million in 2003, after three years of stagnant growth. In 2005, spending reached $61.4 billion with domestic travel accounting for 71% (Government of Canada, 2006).

Tourism in Canada Today

In 2011, tourism created $78.8 billion in total economic activity and 603,400 jobs. Tourism accounted for more of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) than agriculture, forestry, and fisheries combined (Tourism Industry Association of Canada, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)

Founded in 1930 and based in Ottawa, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) is the national private-sector advocate for the industry. Its goal is to support policies and programs that help the industry grow, while representing over 400 members including airports, concert halls, festivals and events, travel services providers, and businesses of all sizes. For more information, visit the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s website :

Unfortunately, while overall receipts from tourism appear healthy, and globally the industry is growing, according to a recent report, Canada’s historic reliance on the US market (which traditionally accounts for 75% of our market) is troubling. Because three out of every four international visitors to Canada originates in the United States, the 55% decline in that market since 2000 is being very strongly felt here. Many feel the decline in American visitors to Canada can be attributed to tighter passport and border regulations, the economic downturn (including the 2008 global economic crisis), and a stronger Canadian dollar (TIAC, 2014).

Despite disappointing numbers from the United States, Canada continues to see strong visitation from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, and China. In 2011, we welcomed 3,180,262 tourists from our top 15 inbound countries (excluding the United States). Canadians travelling domestically accounted for 80% of tourism revenues in the country, and TIAC suggested that a focus on rebounding US visitation would help grow the industry (TIAC, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Canadian Tourism Commission

Housed in Vancouver, Destination Canada , previously the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), is responsible for promoting Canada in several foreign markets: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It works with private companies, travel services providers, meeting professionals, and government organizations to help leverage Canada’s tourism brand,  Canada. Keep Exploring . It also conducts research and has a significant image library (Canadian Tourism Commission, 2014). For more information, visit  Destination Canada website :

As organizations like TIAC work to confront barriers to travel, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC) is active abroad, encouraging more visitors to explore our country. In Chapter 8, we’ll delve more into the challenges and triumphs of selling tourism at home and abroad.

The great news for British Columbia is that once in Canada, most international visitors tend to remain in the province they landed in, and BC is one of three provinces that receives the bulk of this traffic (TIAC, 2012). In fact, BC’s tourism industry is one of the healthiest in Canada today. Let’s have a look at how our provincial industry was established and where it stands now.

British Columbia Overview

Origins of tourism in bc.

As with the history of tourism in Canada, it’s often stated that the first tourists to BC were explorers. In 1778, Captain James Cook touched down on Vancouver Island, followed by James Douglas in 1842, a British agent who had been sent to find new headquarters for the Hudson’s Bay Company, ultimately choosing Victoria. Through the 1860s, BC’s gold rush attracted prospectors from around the world, with towns and economies springing up along the trail (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

Railway Travel: Full Steam Ahead!

The development of BC’s tourism industry began in earnest in the late 1800s when the CPR built accommodation properties along itsnewly completed trans-Canada route, capturing revenues from overnight stays to help alleviate their increasing corporate debt. Following the 1886 construction of small lodges at stops in Field, Rogers Pass, and Fraser Canyon, the CPR opened the Hotel Vancouver in May 1887 (Dawson, 2004).

As opposed to Atlantic Canada, where tourism promotion centred around attracting hunters and fishermen for a temporary infusion of cash, in British Columbia tourism was seen as a way to lure farmers and settlers to stay in the new province. Industry associations began to form quickly: the Tourist Association of Victoria (TAV) in February 1902, and the Vancouver Tourist Association in June of the same year (Dawson, 2004).

Many of the campaigns struck by these and other organizations between 1890 and 1930 centred on the province’s natural assets, as people sought to escape modern convenience and enjoy the environment. A collaborative group called the Pacific Northwest Travel Association (BC, Washington, and Oregon) promoted “The Pacific Northwest: The World’s Greatest Out of Doors,” calling BC “The Switzerland of North America.” Promotions like these seemed to have had an effect: in 1928, over 370,000 tourists visited Victoria, spending over $3.5 million (Dawson, 2004).

The Great Depression and World War II

As the world’s economy was sent into peril during the Great Depression in the 1930s, tourism was seen as an economic solution. A newly renamed Greater Victoria Publicity Bureau touted a “100 for 1” multiplier effect of tourism spending, with visitor revenues accounting for around 13.5% of BC’s income in 1930. By 1935, an organization known as the TTDA (Tourist Trade Development Association of Victoria and Vancouver Island) looked to create a more stable industry through strategies to increase visitors’ length of stay (Dawson, 2004).

In 1937, the provincial Bureau of Industrial and Tourist Development (BITD) was formed through special legislation with a goal of increasing tourist traffic. By 1938, the organization changed its name to the British Columbia Government Travel Bureau (BCGTB) and was granted a budget increase to $105,000. This was soon followed by an expansion of the BC Tourist Council designed to solicit input from across the province. And in 1939, Vancouver welcomed the King and Queen of England and celebrated the opening of the Lions Gate Bridge, activities that reportedly bolstered tourism numbers (Dawson, 2004).

The December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii had negative repercussions for tourism on the Pacific Rim and was responsible for an era of decreased visitation to British Columbia, despite attempts by some to market the region as exciting. From 1939 to 1943, US visits to Vancouver (measured at the border) dropped from over 307,000 to approximately 183,600. Just two years later, however, that number jumped to 369,250, the result of campaigns like the 1943 initiative aimed at Americans that marketed BC as “comrades in war” (Dawson, 2004).

Post-War Rebound

We, with all due modesty, cannot help but claim that we are entering British Columbia’s half-century, and cannot help but observe that B.C. also stands for BOOM COUNTRY. – Phil Gagliardi, BC Minister of Highways, 1955 (Dawson, 2004, p.190)

A burst of post-war spending began in 1946, and although short-lived, was supported by steady government investment in marketing throughout the 1950s. As tourism grew in BC, however, so did competition for US dollars from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. The decade that followed saw an emphasis on promoting BC’s history, its “Britishness,” and a commodification of Aboriginal culture. The BCGTB began marketing efforts to extend the travel season, encouraging travel in September, prime fishing season. It also tried to push visitors to specific areas, including the Lower Fraser Valley, the Okanagan-Fraser Canyon Loop, and the Kamloops-Cariboo region (Dawson, 2004).

A table setting in a fancy restaurant.

In 1954, Vancouver hosted the British Empire Games, investing in the construction of Empire Stadium. A few years later, an increased emphasis on events and convention business saw the Greater Vancouver Tourist Association change its name in 1962 to the Greater Vancouver Visitors and Convention Bureau (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

The ski industry was also on the rise: in 1961, the lodge and chairlift on Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks) opened, and Whistler followed suit five years later (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009). Ski partners became pioneers of collaborative marketing in the province with the foundation of the Ski Marketing Advisory Committee (SMAC) supported by Tod Mountain and Big White, evolving into today’s Canada’s West Ski Area Association (Magnes, 2010). This pioneer spirit was evident across the ski sector: the entire sport of heliskiing was invented by Hans Gosmer of BC’s Canadian Mountain Holidays, and today the province holds 90% of the world’s heliskiing market share (McLeish, 2014).

The concept of collaboration extended throughout the province as innovative funding structures saw the cost of marketing programs shared between government and industry in BC. These programs were distributed through regional channels (originally eight regions in the province), and considered “the most constructive and forward looking plan of its kind in Canada” (Dawson 2004, p.194).

Tourism in BC continued to grow through the 1970s. In 1971, the Hotel Room Tax Act was introduced, allowing for a 5% tax to be collected on room nights with the funds collected to be put toward marketing and development. By 1978, construction had begun on Whistler Village, with Blackcomb Mountain opening two years later (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009). Funding programs in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as the Canada BC Tourism Agreement (CBCTA) and Travel Industry Development Subsidiary Agreement (TIDSA) allowed communities to invest in projects that would make them more attractive tourism destinations. In the mountain community of Kimberley, for instance, the following improvements were implemented through a $3.1 million forgivable loan: a new road to the ski resort, a covered tennis court, a mountain lodge, an alpine slide, and nine more holes for the golf course (e-Know, 2011).

Around the same time, the “Super, Natural British Columbia” brand was introduced, and a formal bid was approved for Vancouver to host a fair then known as Transpo 86 (later Expo 86). Tourism in the province was about to truly take off.

Expo 86 and Beyond

By the time the world fair Expo 86 came to a close in October 1986, it had played host to 20,111,578 guests. Infrastructure developments, including rapid rail, airport improvements, a new trade and convention centre at Canada Place (with a cruise ship terminal), and hotel construction, had positioned the city and the province for further growth (PricewaterhouseCooopers, 2009). The construction and opening of the Coquihalla Highway through to 1990 enhanced the travel experience and reduced travel times to vast sections of the province (Magnes, 2010).

Take a Closer Look: The Value of Tourism

Tourism Vancouver Island, with the support of many partners, has created a website that directly addresses the value of tourism in the region. The site looks at the economics of tourism, social benefits of tourism, and a “what’s your role?” feature that helps users understand where they fit in. Explore the Tourism Vancouver Island website :

By 2000, Vancouver International Airport (YVR) was named number one in the world by the International Air Transport Association’s survey of international passengers. Five years later, the airport welcomed a record 16.4 million passengers (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

Going for Gold

A crowd of people dressed in red and white Canadian jerseys cheer.

In 2003, the International Olympic Committee named Vancouver/Whistler as the host city for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Infrastructure development followed, including the expansion of the Sea-to-Sky Highway, the creation of Vancouver Convention Centre West, and the construction of the Canada Line, a rapid transport line connecting the airport with the city’s downtown.

As BC prepared to host the Games, its international reputation continued to grow. Vancouver was voted “Best City in the Americas” by Condé Nast Traveller magazine three years in a row. Kelowna was named “Best Canadian Golf City” by Canada’s largest golf magazine, and BC was named the “Best Golf Destination in North America” by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. Kamloops, known as Canada’s Tournament City, hosted over 100 sports tournaments that same year, and nearby Sun Peaks Resort was named the “Best Family Resort in North America” by the Great Skiing and Snowboarding Guide in 2008 (PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2009).

By the time the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place, over 80 participating countries, 6,000 athletes, and 3 billion viewers put British Columbia on centre stage.

Spotlight On: Destination British Columbia

Destination BC is a Crown corporation founded in November 2012 by the Government of British Columbia. Its mandate includes marketing the province as a tourist destination (at home and around the world), promoting the development and growth of the industry, providing advice and recommendations to the tourism minister on related matters, and enhancing public awareness of tourism and its economic value to British Columbia (Province of British Columbia, 2013b).

Tourism in BC Today

Building on the momentum generated by hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, tourism in BC remains big business. In 2012, the industry generated $13.5 billion in revenue.

The provincial industry is made up of over 18,000 businesses, the majority of which are SMEs (small to medium enterprises), and together they employ approximately 127,300 people (Tourism Industry Association of BC, 2014). It may surprise you to learn that in British Columbia, tourism provides more jobs than high tech, oil and gas, mining, and forestry (Porges, 2014).

Spotlight On: The Tourism Industry Association of BC

Founded in 1993 as the Council of Tourism Associations, today the Tourism Industry Association of BC (TIABC) is a not-for-profit trade association comprising members from private sector tourism businesses, industry associations, and destination marketing organizations (DMOs). Its goal is to ensure the best working environment for a competitive tourism industry. It hosts industry networking events and engages in advocacy efforts as “the voice of the BC tourism industry.” Students are encouraged to join TIABC to take advantage of their connections and receive a discount at numerous industry events. For more information, visit the Tourism Industry Association of BC’s website :

One of the challenges for BC’s tourism industry, it has long been argued, is fragmentation. Back in September 1933, an article in the Victoria Daily Times argued for more coordination across organizations in order to capitalize on what they saw as Canada’s “largest dividend payer” (Dawson, 2004). Today, more than 80 years later, you will often hear BC tourism professionals say the same thing.

On the other hand, some experts believe that the industry is simply a model of diversity, acknowledging that tourism is a compilation of a multitude of businesses, services, organizations, and communities. They see the ways in which these components are working together toward success, rather than focusing on friction between the groups.

Many communities are placing a renewed focus on educating the general public and other businesses about the value of tourism and the ways in which stakeholders work together. The following case study highlights this in more detail:

Take a Closer Look: Tourism Pays in Richmond, BC

The community of Richmond, BC, brings to life the far-reaching positive economic effects of tourism in action. Watch the short video called “Tourism Pays” to see what we mean!:

The entry to a Board Room in the Canadian Tourism College with a small air plane statue outside.

Throughout the rest of this textbook, you’ll have a chance to learn more about the history and current outlook for tourism in BC, with in-depth coverage of some of the triumphs and challenges we’ve faced as an industry. You will also learn about the Canadian and global contexts of the tourism industry’s development.

As we’ve seen in this chapter, tourism is a complex set of industries including accommodation, recreation and entertainment, food and beverage services, transportation, and travel services. It encompasses domestic, inbound, and outbound travel for business, leisure, or other purposes. And because of this large scope, tourism development requires participation from all walks of life, including private business, governmental agencies, educational institutions, communities, and citizens.

Recognizing the diverse nature of the industry and the significant contributions tourism makes toward economic and social value for British Columbians is important. There remains a great deal of work to better educate members of the tourism industry, other sectors, and the public about the ways tourism contributes to our province.

Given this opportunity for greater awareness, it is hoped that students like you will help share this information as you learn more about the sector. So let’s begin our exploration in Chapter 2 with a closer look at a critical sector: transportation.

  • British Columbia Government Travel Bureau ( BCGTB) : the first recognized provincial government organization responsible for the tourism marketing of British Columbia
  • Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) : a national railway company widely regarded as establishing tourism in Canada and BC in the late 1800s and early 1900s
  • Destination BC: the provincial destination marketing organization (DMO) responsible for tourism marketing and development in BC, formerly known as Tourism BC
  • Destination Canada: the national government Crown corporation responsible for marketing Canada abroad, formerly known as the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)
  • Destination marketing organization (DMO):  also known as a destination management organization; includes national tourism boards, state/provincial tourism offices, and community convention and visitor bureaus
  • Diversity: a term used by some in the industry to describe the makeup of the industry in a positive way; acknowledging that tourism is a diverse compilation of a multitude of businesses, services, organizations, and communities
  • Fragmentation: a phenomenon observed by some industry insiders whereby the tourism industry is unable to work together toward common marketing and lobbying (policy-setting) objectives
  • Hospitality:  the accommodations and food and beverage industry groupings
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) : a way to group tourism activities based on similarities in business practices, primarily used for statistical analysis
  • Tourism:  the business of attracting and serving the needs of people travelling and staying outside their home communities for business and pleasure
  • Tourism Industry Association of BC ( TIABC) : a membership-based advocacy group formerly known as the Council of Tourism Associations of BC (COTA)
  • Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC): the national industry advocacy group
  • Tourist:  someone who travels at least 80 kilometres from his or her home for at least 24 hours, for business or pleasure or other reasons; can be further classified as domestic, inbound, or outbound
  • United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) : UN agency responsible for promoting responsible, sustainable, and universally accessible tourism worldwide
  • List the three types of tourist and provide an example of each.
  • What is the UNWTO? Visit its website, and name one recent project or study the organization has undertaken.
  • List the five industry groups according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Using your  understanding of tourism as an industry, create your own definition and classification of tourism. What did you add? What did you take out? Why?
  • In 2011, how much money was generated by tourism worldwide? What percentage of this money was collected in Europe? Where was the least amount of money collected?
  • According to UNEP, what are the four types of negative environmental tourism impact? For each of these, list an example in your own community.
  • What major transportation developments gave rise to the tourism industry in Canada?
  • Historically, what percentage of international visitors to Canada are from the United States? Why is this an important issue today?
  • Name three key events in the history of BC tourism that resonate with you. Why do you find these events of interest?
  • Watch the video in the “Take a Closer Look” feature on Richmond. Now think about the value of tourism in your community. How might this be communicated to local residents? List two ways you will contribute to communicating the value of tourism this semester. 
  • Choose one article or document from the reference list below and read it in detail. Report back to the class about what you’ve learned.

Case Study: Tourism – Canada’s Surprise Blind Spot

In a 2014 episode of the Voice of Canadian Business , the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s podcast, host Mary Anne Carter sat down with Greg Klassen, the CTC’s president and CEO, and Michele Saran, executive director of Business Events Canada. Their discussion highlighted the reasons Canada is struggling to remain competitive within the sector, and underscores the role and impact Canada’s tourism industry has on the economy.Listen to the 14-minute podcast on tourism in Canada and answer the following questions:

  • Why are governments around the world starting to invest in tourism infrastructure? What does this mean for the competitive environment for Canada’s tourism product?
  • How do we compare to the United States as a destination for business travel?
  • According to Greg, why is the $200 million investment in Brand USA a “double-edged sword” for tourism in Canada? What is beneficial about this? Why does it make things more difficult?
  • What is the relationship between tourism and people’s understanding of a country’s image?
  • What ranking is Canada’s brand? What other industries are affected by this brand?
  • Describe one activity the CTC participates in to sell Canadian tourism product abroad.
  • Name two “sectors of excellence” for Canada. Why is the CTC focussing their business events sales strategies on these industries?
  • What does the CTC consider to be the benefits of Vancouver hosting the 2014 and 2015 TED conferences?

Brewster Travel Canada. (2014). About Us – Brewster History . Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. (2013a). BC Stats: Industry Classification . Retrieved from

British Columbia Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training. (2013b). Bill 3 – 2013: Destination BC Corp Act . Retrieved from

Canadian Geographic . (2000, September). Flying through time: Canadian aviation history . Retrieved from

Canadian Tourism Commission. (2014). About the CTC. Retrieved from

Chaney, Edward. (2000). The evolution of the grand tour: Anglo-Italian cultural relations since the Renaissance . Portland OR: Routledge.

Cox & Kings. (2014). About us – History. Retrieved from

Dawson, Michael. (2004). Selling British Columbia: Tourism and consumer culture, 1890-1970 . Vancouver, BC: UBC Press.

Discover Hospitality. (2015). What is hospitality? Retrieved from

e-Know. (2011, November). Ogilvie’s past in lock step with last 50 years of Kimberley’s history. Retrieved from’s-past-in-lock-step-with-last-50-years-of-kimberley’s-history/

Expedia, Inc. (2013). Expedia: Annual report 2013. [PDF] Retrieved from

Flightglobal. (2002). Sixty years of the jet age. Retrieved from

Globe and Mail, The. (2014, March 28). Ten things you don’t know about Air Canada. Retrieved from

Government of Canada. (2006). Building a national tourism strategy. [PDF] Retrieved from$FILE/tourism_e.pdf

Government of Canada. (2013, July 5). Appendix E: Tourism industries in the human resource module . Retrieved from

Griffiths, Ralph, Griffiths, G. E. (1772). Pennant’s tour in Scotland in 1769. The Monthly Review; or, Literary Journal XLVI : 150 . Retrieved from Google Books . 

Gyr, Ueli. (2010, December 3). The history of tourism: Structures on the path to modernity. European History Online (EHO). Retrieved from

Latin definition for hospes, hospitis. (2014).In Latdict – Latin Dictionary and Grammar Resources .  Retrieved from

Library and Archives Canada. (n.d.). Ties that bind: Essay.   A brief history of railways in Canada.  Retrieved from

LinkBC. (2008). Transforming communities through tourism: A handbook for community tourism champions. [PDF] Retrieved from

MacEachern, A. (2012, August 17). Goin’ down the road: The story of the first cross-Canada car trip. The Globe and Mail . Retrieved from

McLeish. (2014, July 23). History of heliskiing in Canada. Retrieved from

Magnes, W. (2010, May 26). The evolution of British Columbia’s tourism regions: 1970-2010 [PDF] . Retrieved from

Porges, R. (2014, September). Tell me something I don’t know: Promoting the value of tourism. Tourism Drives the Provincial Economy . Presentation hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of BC, Vancouver, BC.

PricewaterhouseCooopers, LLC. (2009). Opportunity BC 2020: Tourism sector. [PDF] Prepared for the BC Business Council. Retrieved from

Shoalts, A. (2011, April). How our national parks evolved: From Grey Owl to Chrétien and beyond, 100 years of Parks Canada.   Canadian Geographic . Retrieved from

Theobald, William F. (1998).  Global Tourism (2nd ed.). Oxford, England: Butterworth–Heinemann, pp. 6-7.

Thomas Cook Group of Companies. (2014). Thomas Cook history. Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of BC. (2014). Value of tourism toolkit: Why focus on the value of tourism?  Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of Canada. (2014, October 14). Travel industry poised to boost Canadian exports: US market and border efficiencies central to growth potential . Retrieved from

Tourism Industry Association of Canada, HLT Advisory. (2012). The Canadian tourism industry: A special report [PDF] . Retrieved from

United Nations and World Tourism Organization. (1995). Recommendations on tourism statistics. [PDF] Retrieved from

United Nations Environment Programme. (2003a). Negatives Socio-cultural impacts from tourism . Retrieved from

United Nations Environment Programme. (2003b). Tourism’s three main impact areas. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2008). Understanding tourism: Basic glossary . Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2012, May 7). International tourism receipts surpass US$ 1 trillion in 2011. Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2014a). UNWTO world tourism barometer, 12 [PDF] (1). Retrieved from

United Nations World Tourism Organization. (2014b). Who we are. Retrieved from


Figure 1.1  Selkirk College and Nelson  by LinkBC  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.2   Capilano University’s Team  by LinkBC  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.3   Vancouver Island University  by LinkBC  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.4  Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 A-2-m No 136  by  Peter Broster  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.5   Vancouver Island University  by LinkBC  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.6   Switzerland vs. Canada  by s.yume  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Figure 1.7   CTC’s Boardroom  by LinkBC  is used under a  CC-BY 2.0  license.

Introduction to Tourism and Hospitality in BC by Capilano University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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tourism development history


Tourism has evolved hand-in-hand with changing technology, communications and marketing practices.

While in 1950 the world welcomed 25 million international tourists, according to UNWTO data, by 2019 this had increased to 1.5 billion.

The massive increase in the number of people joining the middle classes globally, along with the falling cost of travelling, the emergence of low-cost airlines, and the rise of the internet and its impact on both social interactions and business models, are among the main factors behind the increase in tourist numbers.

  • Thanks to the internet, almost everyone can easily buy a plane or train ticket, often at a low cost.
  • The creation of new companies and market niches help consumers access travel in a more efficient and simple way, eliminating third parties. Travel agencies are being left in the background because of this.
  • New accommodation and transportation platforms have also increased levels of competition and lowered costs for tourists.

So, what was seen as a luxury available to just a small few in 1950 had by 2020 become an achievable aspiration for a large number of people in every part of the world.

While the situation for tourism in 2021 is characterized by its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector continues to adapt  in order to restart and grow back stronger and more sustainably.

Tourism Teacher

The fascinating history of tourism and aviation

Disclaimer: Some posts on Tourism Teacher may contain affiliate links. If you appreciate this content, you can show your support by making a purchase through these links or by buying me a coffee . Thank you for your support!

The history of tourism is absolutely fascinating. Why do we go on holiday to the Caribbean? How was the cruise developed? Why did we start travelling by plane? This article answers all of these questions and more about the history of tourism.

Ancient times

The empire era, the middle ages and the renaissance era, the grand tour era, the mobility era, the modern era, the post-modern era, what is the history of tourism involving aircraft, early inventions impacting the history of tourism, aviation in the 1700’s, december 17, 1903- a major day in the history of tourism, post world war ii, aviation today, history of tourism- further reading, the history of tourism.

The history of tourism is a long one. Whilst we may not always have had high speed trains, aircraft and luxurious cruise ships , people have long had the desire to be tourists .

The history of tourism can largely be attributed to technological developments in transport. The more roads that are built, the more places people can drive. The more airports that open, the more places that people can fly to.

The history of tourism is also closely related to the global economic, social and political outlook. Someone with lots of money is more likely to travel somewhere for a holiday than someone who does not have much money, for example. Likewise, many tourists are not likely to travel to a destination that is suffering from political instability.

There are many ways that the tourism industry and grown and developed over the years. In this article I will explain some of the elements of the history of tourism.

When did the history of tourism really begin? We can’t pinpoint it and, for obvious reasons, we can only really guess about tourism in ancient times. There are no selfies and no travel brochures to look back on, but we do know that people DID travel in ancient times. Historians have found records that provide an insight into the reasons that people travelled, and how this evolved into tourism.

We know that cultures and nations moved their armed forces around in order to conquer other areas, and to control trade routes and various resources. This created foundations for future travel. As the Egyptian , Roman and Eastern Mediterranean Empires emerged, necessary travel turned into tourism. The Phoenicians, for example, travelled not only to develop trade routes but also because of curiosity. They had a desire to discover what lay beyond that area of the Mediterranean. 

And other peoples likely did the same. The Mayas in modern day Mexico , and members of the Shang Dynasty in modern day China, travelled to see what was beyond their own borders. They also wanted to spread their civilisations, of course. Historians have been able to find evidence of ancient travels – artefacts from other places turning up in excavations, that couldn’t be there unless the ancient people had their own form of tourism.

It is hard to know when simple travel turned into what we would define as tourism . As mentioned, the Empire Era (beginning with the Egyptians, including the Greeks and stretching unit the eventual form the Roman Empire) was influential in the development of travel and tourism . As time went on, people travelled more. They travelled for various reasons: commercial, educational, governmental and religious purposes. With consolidated governments in different central locations established as early as the Egyptian Kingdoms (4850-715 BC), travel was a necessity.

And because travel was a necessity, so too were basic necessities. Lodging and food needed to be provided to those visiting from other areas, which likely gave way to a realisation that you could travel to another place just because. This is especially true of the Greeks (900-200 BC). They wanted to find fun in new locations – they promoted the use of a common language, and their money became a form of common currency.

Places that were important in terms of government activities turned into what we might call tourist attractions . With shops, places to eat and drink, sports to watch, gaming and even theatre, there was plenty to do if you travelled to a different area. This only evolved further with the ancient Romans. During their empire (500 BC – 300 AD), good roads were developed and water routes improved. Inns were opened, around 30 miles apart from each other – a relatively easy days journey in between, so you always had a place to rest at night. Horses could even be hired here.

Roman roads expanded into a 50,000-mile system. With their currency now almost universally accepted, and common languages such as Greek and Latin being used, travel constantly became easier and less stressful. Then came the common legal system. This allowed for people to feel safer and more protected as they traveled – whether that be for pleasure, business or adventure. Cities throughout the Roman empire (such as Pompeii) became destinations for the middle and upper classes to explore during their downtime.

This can teach us something about the way we travel today. Tourism booms when people have more free time (such as during school holidays) and currencies are easily exchangeable. There are common languages, and the existence of law allows for a feeling of personal safety. If any of these factors were to be removed, people would be less inclined to travel. This was seen during the Middle Ages, when tourism was in decline.

history of tourism

Throughout the Middle Ages (5-14th centuries AD) travel – and by extension tourism – was pretty much nonexistent. It became dangerous after the fall of the Roman Empire. While there had been a commonality among nations, there were now autonomous areas thanks to a feudal system. Transport was fragmented; so was language and currency. This made travelling to somewhere different much more difficult than it had been.

And when people did travel, it wasn’t for leisure. With the Roman Catholic Church gaining power, there were nine crusades in attempt to retake the Holy Land between 1096 and 1291 AD. But they all failed, and left people with a desire to see the world outside of their own locality. People were keen to experience different civilisations.

Merchants – like Marco Polo – started to travel far and wide after the failed crusades. Polo’s travels in particular (1295-1295 AD) were reported on, and people started to become more interested in travelling again.

So travel was reborn. During the Renaissance (14-16th centuries AD) more merchants travelled further afield. This was in part due to the church and royalty controlling larger geographic areas than they previously had done. Trade routes also started to reopen. Commercial activity grew, and people continued to venture out of their own towns and territories. 

The first real tourist , according to historians, was Cyriacus of Ancona. He journeyed around the Mediterranean, eager to learn about Greek and Roman history. His desire to learn about what had come before – and to see what remained – encouraged others to think about how travel could benefit education. And so, the Grand Tour Era emerged…

The Grand Tour era is an important part of the history of tourism. The era of the Grand Tour (1613-1785) was when tourism as we know it really came into play. Starting with the most wealthy in society, people travelled to learn. It was fashionable, and soon became a status symbol in its own way.

Those who were ‘coming of age’ would travel throughout Europe to see art, architecture, science and more in countries other than their own. Generally the most visited places were France , Switzerland , Germany and Italy . Each ‘Grand Tour’ would last a couple of years. People would travel by carriage, and be accompanied by someone older to take care of them.

This changed slightly with the introduction of the industrial revolution in around 1750. Economic and social structures were changed forever. The revolution meant that lengthy journeys such as a Grand Tour trip were no longer particularly viable for many people. Factory life and business management, and indeed modern industrialism as a whole, led to people becoming more tied down.

Transport changed too – it became more efficient as economies grew and technology advanced. Markets stretched across borders and individuals had higher incomes; travel was now for business and leisure, but with less free time trips were shorted. The tourism industry had to develop rapidly to ensure they could meet the newfound needs of potential customers.

History of tourism

The next stage in the history of tourism is all about mobility. As time moved on, the economy (and personal wealth) continued to grow. Increased leisure time and more accessible travel meant that tourism boomed. Because less people were tied down to all-consuming jobs such as farm work and more had moved on to working in offices, jobs and factories, there was more free time available. The Mobility Era (1800-1944) was defined by an increase in travel to new locations both near and far.

With new roads, passenger trains , stagecoaches and sailing ships becoming more common, tourism continued to grow. France and Great Britain had fantastic road and railroad systems which made the idea of travel even more available to people.

Then along came Thomas Cook , who can definitely be credited with bringing travel and tourism to the general public- Thomas Cook is one of the most famous names in the history of tourism! He was the first to introduce a tour package – travel and accommodation, with food often included too. In 1841 he arranged for a tour of around 570 people to travel from Loughborough to Leicester. For a shilling the journey included food and entertainment. There was instant demand for more of the same, and so the full-time business of arranging and providing travel services was born!

The Mobility Era continued to make changes. Cars and air travel were introduced next; with Henry Ford’s mass production for the Model T (1914), individuals had more freedom to travel. And thanks to Orville and Wilbur Wright ’s successful test of the aeroplane in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, commercial air travel was also introduced. This meant the time it took to travel long distance was much shorter, and thus people were more mobile.

Another important time in the history of tourism is the modern era. The ability to move around and see new places was a start. Mass tourism continued to develop in the first half of the 20th century. George Westinghouse introduced the idea of paid leave from work, with a firm belief that allowing staff paid time off would be beneficial to productivity levels overall. This gave the working and middle classes in certain countries the time and money to fulfil their travel dreams – so the demand for tourism grew.

And as World War II came to an end in the 1940s, those who had been forced to travel during the war where keen to replicate this experience in a more positive way. They were now eager to travel for fun! They also wanted to share this with their loved ones, whether that be through travelling together or sharing stories that made these people want to travel too.

With gas/petrol no longer rationed, economies growing and cars once again being mass-produced, people travelled around in their cars – this was especially true in America, where the motel business really took off. This is similar, in a way, to the inns during the Empire Era.

Many factors contributed to the exponential growth of the travel industry. Hotels and motels took to the franchising model of business expansion, and jet travel was properly introduced in the 1950s, becoming popular throughout the 1960s.

Another fifties introduction helped: the credit card. Originally the Diners Club card, this provided travellers with the means to buy things wherever they were in the world without the hassle of currency exchange and carrying cash. To this day, credit cards are the preferred way to spend money when travelling.

So people had time, they had money – travel was safe and accessible. Tourism has simply continued to grow ever since. We now have mass tourism, and the people who engage in it can be split into two groups. These are ‘organisation mass tourists’ who make use of package deals and pre-prepared itineraries, and ‘individual mass tourists’. The second group travel independently but do use mass tourism services (airlines, hotel companies etc) which have been promoted in the media.

Travel is still ever-changing, though. People no longer necessarily travel just for the sake of travel – they want an immersive experience , adventure and the chance to give back to the local community . Tourism, and the travel companies with the industry, have to keep up with the different demands. 

Throughout the 21st century, Internet access has become more common and new borders have opened. There is always increased wealth and mobility of citizens. As different countries become attractive to tourists, their economy grows – which, in turn, makes the destination more attractive. This is why tourism is SO important !

There are always peaks and troughs when it comes to tourism. Terrorism, health scares and political/economic instability often discourage travel. There are now increased security procedures at airports, borders and attractions which can be off-putting for some people. But, for the most part, people love to travel.

In the post-modern tourism era, consumers are more savvy, more fussy and more aware. Nowadays, people care more about environmental conservation , community impact , economic leakage and other such issues and are far more considerate when they plan and undertake their travels.

Also, people now search for experiences that are authentic and are looking to experience a range of different types of tourism . Organisations working within the sector can now offer far more smart tourism experiences, such as virtual tourism – which was widely used during the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020.

Similarly, consumers are more Internet savvy in the post-modern era, meaning that they are leaning towards independent research and dynamic packaging as opposed to using the traditional package tourism methods that were so popular for so many years. In fact, as a result of this change in buying behaviour, many tour operators and travel agents have gone out of business, including the famous Thomas Cook.

The history of aviation

An account of the history of tourism wouldn’t be complete without discussing the integral role that aviation has played. So, lets dig a bit deeper into the history of aviation specifically…

What most people don’t realise when considering the history of tourism is that aviation and flight has actually been around for thousands of years! Dating back to the ancient years in Greek mythology is the story of Icarus and Daedalus who attempted to create a pair of wings using wax and feathers.

While this invention sadly ended in tragedy, one thing it shows is that humans have been interested and intrigued by flight for centuries. It took us a bit of time to master the skies, however and it is thanks largely to the famous Wright Brothers and to various military developments that we have the aviation industry that we do today.

The first aircraft known to be made by men was the kite. Created in China , the time is not known but many say it was sometime in the 5th Century, these kites are similar to the kites we still use today. Taking it a step further, the Chinese invented “man-lifting kites” which today are known as hot air balloons.

By the 1700s, aviation as we know it today was in full swing and inventors were exploring different devices, inventions and failures. At this time, there were two main categories of aviation: lighter than air aviation and heavier than air. This was an important time in the history of tourism.

In 1783, the Montgolfier brothers revealed their hot air balloon which didn’t need man to power it and the balloon flew over Annonay, France. This really started a wave of inventors who were interested in creating crafts that could fly without man powering it.

Later in that year, the brothers set up what is known as the first manned flight, with a tethered hot air balloon. A few weeks later, the brothers launched a manned flight with two astronauts onboard, that was untethered. Although the flight didn’t last very long because the fire began to burn the fabric, this is the beginning of modern-day aviation.

What Is The History Of Aviation?

On this date, Orville and Wilbur Wright changed the face of aviation and what it is today, making this day as a pivotal moment in the history of tourism.

Successfully completing four flights in their “flyer”, these brothers lasted mere seconds in the air in their aircraft and covered some 800 feet. Setting a new standard for aviation, these flights relied on power and control to work. This was brand new in the world of aviation and a very exciting achievement!

Because of the efforts of the Wright brothers, in 1914, the first passenger flight was used in the United States. Traveling from St. Petersburg and Tampa, Florida , these flights only lasted a few months but paved the way for what we know today as transcontinental aviation and marked an important development in the history of tourism.

The 1920’s and 1930’s were a time of major improvements and inventions in the aviation industry. Aircraft designs that were ahead of their time and influenced aircrafts that we see today, were being used to allow people to travel from one place to another comfortably.

During the time of World War II, many cities and countries had established their own airports and military aircrafts were being repurposed as commercial planes and personal planes. The War was a time of using these aircrafts to travel from one country to the next and the growth of international aviation during this time is monumental. This was a huge time in the history of tourism!

Not long after this time period, the Convention on International Civil Aviation was founded and still stands today. Also known as the Chicago Convention , this agency was established to regulate standards, safety and efficiency of all civil flights. Today, the agency has made significant improvements in the world of aviation and has allowed for safer and more economical airliners.

After the post World War II era there were substantial developments to the history of tourism and aviation. In the 1970’s, many aircraft became digitised and had computer systems built into the craft. Because of the creation of these systems, better aircraft have been made and the designs of airplanes have become sleeker, safer and more comfortable over the years.

Computer simulations of flights have also led to the design of lighter aircraft and airplanes that are stronger. Today’s aviation industry offers one of the safest forms of transportation and has taken huge strides over the years.

The history of aviation aviation has been and continues to be a huge part of the economy for the entire world and has seen major improvements over the years. Without the discoveries from inventors that came before us, airplanes and travel may not be where they are today.

Recent years have seen the development of double decker aircraft, cleaner and greener aircraft and aircraft that can operate longer distances…. will be have supersonic aircraft in the future? Biofuels? Only time will tell- the history of tourism is not complete yet!

As you can see, the history of tourism is long and fruitful. While the industry has had its ups and downs, largely due to outside factors such as economic recession, war or a virus outbreak, it has continued to play an ever-important role in our lives. If you enjoyed this article on the history of tourism, I recommend that you take a look at these articles too-

  • The fascinating history of Thomas Cook
  • The fascinating history of the hotel industry
  • History of transportation
  • The fascinating history of Aviation

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Why were so many metro stations in Moscow renamed?

Okhotny Ryad station in Soviet times and today.

Okhotny Ryad station in Soviet times and today.

The Moscow metro system has 275 stations, and 28 of them have been renamed at some point or other—and several times in some cases. Most of these are the oldest stations, which opened in 1935.

The politics of place names

The first station to change its name was Ulitsa Kominterna (Comintern Street). The Comintern was an international communist organization that ceased to exist in 1943, and after the war Moscow authorities decided to call the street named after it something else. In 1946, the station was renamed Kalininskaya. Then for several days in 1990, the station was called Vozdvizhenka, before eventually settling on Aleksandrovsky Sad, which is what it is called today.

The banner on the entraince reads:

The banner on the entraince reads: "Kalininskaya station." Now it's Alexandrovsky Sad.

Until 1957, Kropotkinskaya station was called Dvorets Sovetov ( Palace of Soviets ). There were plans to build a monumental Stalinist high-rise on the site of the nearby Cathedral of Christ the Saviour , which had been demolished. However, the project never got off the ground, and after Stalin's death the station was named after Kropotkinskaya Street, which passes above it.

Dvorets Sovetov station, 1935. Letters on the entrance:

Dvorets Sovetov station, 1935. Letters on the entrance: "Metro after Kaganovich."

Of course, politics was the main reason for changing station names. Initially, the Moscow Metro itself was named after Lazar Kaganovich, Joseph Stalin’s right-hand man. Kaganovich supervised the construction of the first metro line and was in charge of drawing up a master plan for reconstructing Moscow as the "capital of the proletariat."

In 1955, under Nikita Khrushchev's rule and during the denunciation of Stalin's personality cult, the Moscow Metro was named in honor of Vladimir Lenin.

Kropotkinskaya station, our days. Letters on the entrance:

Kropotkinskaya station, our days. Letters on the entrance: "Metropolitan after Lenin."

New Metro stations that have been opened since the collapse of the Soviet Union simply say "Moscow Metro," although the metro's affiliation with Vladimir Lenin has never officially been dropped.

Zyablikovo station. On the entrance, there are no more signs that the metro is named after Lenin.

Zyablikovo station. On the entrance, there are no more signs that the metro is named after Lenin.

Stations that bore the names of Stalin's associates were also renamed under Khrushchev. Additionally, some stations were named after a neighborhood or street and if these underwent name changes, the stations themselves had to be renamed as well.

Until 1961 the Moscow Metro had a Stalinskaya station that was adorned by a five-meter statue of the supreme leader. It is now called Semyonovskaya station.

Left: Stalinskaya station. Right: Now it's Semyonovskaya.

Left: Stalinskaya station. Right: Now it's Semyonovskaya.

The biggest wholesale renaming of stations took place in 1990, when Moscow’s government decided to get rid of Soviet names. Overnight, 11 metro stations named after revolutionaries were given new names. Shcherbakovskaya became Alekseyevskaya, Gorkovskaya became Tverskaya, Ploshchad Nogina became Kitay-Gorod and Kirovskaya turned into Chistye Prudy. This seriously confused passengers, to put it mildly, and some older Muscovites still call Lubyanka station Dzerzhinskaya for old times' sake.

At the same time, certain stations have held onto their Soviet names. Marksistskaya and Kropotkinskaya, for instance, although there were plans to rename them too at one point.

"I still sometimes mix up Teatralnaya and Tverskaya stations,” one Moscow resident recalls .

 “Both have been renamed and both start with a ‘T.’ Vykhino still grates on the ear and, when in 1991 on the last day of my final year at school, we went to Kitay-Gorod to go on the river cruise boats, my classmates couldn’t believe that a station with that name existed."

The city government submitted a station name change for public discussion for the first time in 2015. The station in question was Voykovskaya, whose name derives from the revolutionary figure Pyotr Voykov. In the end, city residents voted against the name change, evidently not out of any affection for Voykov personally, but mainly because that was the name they were used to.

What stations changed their name most frequently?

Some stations have changed names three times. Apart from the above-mentioned Aleksandrovsky Sad (Ulitsa Kominterna->Kalininskaya->Vozdvizhenka->Aleksandrovsky Sad), a similar fate befell Partizanskaya station in the east of Moscow. Opened in 1944, it initially bore the ridiculously long name Izmaylovsky PKiO im. Stalina (Izmaylovsky Park of Culture and Rest Named After Stalin). In 1947, the station was renamed and simplified for convenience to Izmaylovskaya. Then in 1963 it was renamed yet again—this time to Izmaylovsky Park, having "donated" its previous name to the next station on the line. And in 2005 it was rechristened Partizanskaya to mark the 60th anniversary of victory in World War II. 

Partizanskaya metro station, nowadays.

Partizanskaya metro station, nowadays.

Another interesting story involves Alekseyevskaya metro station. This name was originally proposed for the station, which opened in 1958, since a village with this name had been located here. It was then decided to call the station Shcherbakovskaya in honor of Aleksandr Shcherbakov, a politician who had been an associate of Stalin. Nikita Khrushchev had strained relations with Shcherbakov, however, and when he got word of it literally a few days before the station opening the builders had to hastily change all the signs. It ended up with the concise and politically correct name of Mir (Peace).

The name Shcherbakovskaya was restored in 1966 after Khrushchev's fall from power. It then became Alekseyevskaya in 1990.

Alekseyevskaya metro station.

Alekseyevskaya metro station.

But the station that holds the record for the most name changes is Okhotny Ryad, which opened in 1935 on the site of a cluster of market shops. When the metro system was renamed in honor of Lenin in 1955, this station was renamed after Kaganovich by way of compensation. The name lasted just two years though because in 1957 Kaganovich fell out of favor with Khrushchev, and the previous name was returned. But in 1961 it was rechristened yet again, this time in honor of Prospekt Marksa, which had just been built nearby.

Okhotny Ryad station in 1954 and Prospekt Marksa in 1986.

Okhotny Ryad station in 1954 and Prospekt Marksa in 1986.

In 1990, two historical street names—Teatralny Proyezd and Mokhovaya Street—were revived to replace Prospekt Marksa, and the station once again became Okhotny Ryad.

Okhotny Ryad in 2020.

Okhotny Ryad in 2020.

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tourism development history

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