The history of International Tourism has been covered by several Western writers, some of whom equate the Western history of tourism with the world’s history. For example, Harrison summarizes the history from ancient to modern times in western perspective.
While in ancient times only a few people would travel long distances, the onset of railway construction in Europe ushered an era of mass tourism.
Urry concludes that the effect of railways construction generated “one of the most distinctive experiences of the modern word, compressing time and space, and bringing places once deemed far from the teeming cities within the reach of the prosperous middle class and later the more affluent working class.”
Commercial tourism activities are recorded to have been started by Thomas Cook in England in 1841.Cook is widely credited with starting the tourism business when he arranged a train excursion for temperance campaigners from Leicester to Loughborough. The Thomas Cook company name continues up to day albeit under different ownership.
The development in means of transport expanded further to include ocean liners, cars and planes. In the second half of the 19th century, the construction of large and increasingly luxurious ocean-going liners expanded long-haul travel.
By the end of the 1930s,car ownership was facilitating travel across Europe and North America. By 1937,for British tourists were travelling to various destinations and in that year alone, some 1.4 million trips were made from the UK, mainly to Belgium, France, Italy, and Switzerland.
If the mid-19th century was ‘the age of the train’. In 1959,even before passenger jet aircraft were introduced, more passengers crossed the Atlantic by air than sea, and the advent of passenger jets, followed by the introduction of wide-bodied jets in the late 1970s,meant that individuals who could afford to pay the airfare world could travel quickly and relatively comfortably, not only across the Atlantic but also to an ever expanding tourist periphery.
In other words, technologies have enabled people more leisure time since technologies increase efficiencies thus people work for shorter time. Working for shorter times saves time to travel. In addition, advancement in technologies modify traveler’s behaviors too.
The Modern Tourism
The developments in technology discussed above, combined with improved socioeconomic conditions in several parts of the world from 1950s led to a fast increase in the number of tourists worldwide.
The information revolution super headed by the internet as part of ICT‘s has facilitated travel and tourism much further. The remarkable difference in tourism is that in the pre-Internet period most tourists would travel without much information about the destination. The onset of the internet has created a different breed of tourists who travel informed about the destinations.
This brings a challenging business environment since informed customers expect more predictability of service thus making them relatively more difficult to satisfy. Corresponding to the increasing number of tourists is an increase in the revenue earned from the system and US dollar, fluctuations in exchange rates would be among several reasons to account for the change.