Mass Tourism

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Mass tourism

Modern tourism could be said to have emerged with modern industrial society in the nineteenth century. Industrialisation spawned both the means to travel - initially the railways - and created a growing market amongst the new industrial and professional classes, and amongst the working class, the masses, too. Thomas Cook pioneered leisure travel amongst the middle and working classes in this century. He and his son, John Mason Cook (whose initials JMC are now a brand of Thomas Cook tour operations), took an increasingly broad spectrum of the population to ever more distant destinations. Over the past 150 years, the achievement of the industry has been nothing less than the democratisation of leisure travel, from the few deemed worthy, and wealthy enough to partake, to an everyday activity for the majority in developed societies.

The growth of the tourism industry has been driven by economic development. Greater affluence has opened up the possibility to travel for leisure to greater numbers of people. Technical progress - notably the car and air travel - has consistently enabled greater speed, comfort and scope for leisure travellers. Whereas even as recently as forty years ago back-to-back charters were a new innovation, initially confusing to hoteliers and customers, today they are the staple of the big tour operators. The UK's 'big four', Thomas Cook, Airtours, First Choice and Thomsons (now part of TUI, the first European wide package holiday brand, owned by German conglomerate Pressaug) dominate a market that takes annually some thirty five million British tourists abroad for their holidays.

By supplying en masse, such companies have lowered the real cost of holidays, and alongside growing incomes, this has contributed to what Vladimir Raitz, founder of Horizon holidays (the first post-war package holiday company to develop charter flight-based packages) refers to as the package holiday revolution. This growth has been...
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