European Social and Cultural Recent Events in Tourism

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Discuss the impact of social and cultural change on the current European Tourism and/or Hospitality industry

"Tourism is the activity of people travelling to and staying in places outside of their usual environment for not more than one than consecutive year for leisure, for business and other purposes “(Youell 1998). It is about people travelling internationally to experience different cultures.

According to the UNSRID (2001) there were 567m such travelers in 1995. Therefore any social or cultural chances will have an impact on the Tourism and Hospitality Industry [T/H].

This essay will focus on the tourism Industry within a European context, but it will refer in some cases to specific countries. It shall consider how the economic growth of the 50s influenced European society and led the development of tourism as a social activity, within become an integral part of the lifestyles in northern Europe and later extended to the southern countries. This essay will consider how the modern European culture is changing, referring to sources that will highlight its lifestyle and trends. It will analyze the effects of the current demographic changes and the feminization of the society. Finally, the above mentioned will enable the essay to demonstrate the social and cultural changes occurring in Europe and the effects that those are having on the Tourism Industry and the services that it produces.

Travel for leisure in Western Europe began from a minority of privileged classes centuries ago and has developed to a mass participation of people in the post-war era. “In 1950 there were approximately 25 million international tourists, a figure which had risen to 616 million in 1997” (Sharpley 1994). This phenomenon was remarkably rapid and has been possible thanks to the economic reforms that followed the 2nd World War. In U.K. the Labour party introduced a massive “reconstruction” program under the supervision of Keynes, an economic adviser. He believed that the way out of the post-war recession was through state investment in transport and public services. Furthermore the mechanization of the manufacturing industry with the Fordist production techniques offered to an increasing number of people the opportunity to work. The “mass worker” was awarded with high wages and had more disposable income to spend. This was the so-called “golden age” (Shaeply 1994).

This redistribution of income, the entitlement of free time with the introduction of paid holidays in Britain and later in Europe and the progress in transport with the growth of car ownership and air travel are the main factors that opened the European society to the spectrum of mass consumption and indeed mass tourism.

In the 50s and 60s an increasing number of people in middle Europe were affected by urbanization, which had a negative effect on the environment in which they lived. Holidays were seen as time for relaxing and escaping from it all. As a result there was huge growth in seaside resorts in many Mediterranean countries, especially Spain which saw a growth from 0.7m visitors in 1950 to 24.1m in 1970 (Pompl 1993). However the times of mass package holidays to seaside resorts for people looking for a total leisure experience are now coming to an end. Tourists and indeed Tourism have changed and an increasing number of people are now interested in more adventurous, exotic and active holidays and the Tourism Industry needs to develop in order to satisfy these customers’ expectations.

The tourist needs have change during the last 50 years because the societies themselves have changed and the tourism industry needs to identify its customers and the factors that affect their behavior in order to be successful. The European society is changing in many ways; for the purpose of this essay it will consider 3 key factors, demographic aspects, family structure and the role of women in today’s society. The number of people over 65 has increased...
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