Tourism history, development and main destination countries in the world
Over the decades, tourism has experienced continued growth and deepening diversification to become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Modern tourism is closely linked to development and encompasses a growing number of new destinations. These dynamics have turned tourism into a key driver for socio-economic progress. Today, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for many developing countries. This growth goes hand in hand with an increasing diversification and competition among destinations. This global spread of tourism in industrialised and developed states has produced economic and employment benefits in many related sectors - from construction to agriculture or telecommunications. The contribution of tourism to economic well-being depends on the quality and the revenues of the tourism offer. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. UNWTO assists destinations in their sustainable positioning in ever more complex national and international markets. As the UN agency dedicated to tourism, UNWTO points out that particularly developing countries stand to benefit from sustainable tourism and acts to help make this a reality. The tourism business is at least 2,000 years old. It began when wealthy citizens of ancient Rome, deciding they would rather spend their summers away from the city, took trips to the countryside and the coast. A tourist industry soon sprang up to cater for the Romans’ travel and accommodation needs, and for a while it thrived. But Roman tourism ended with its empire, and for hundreds of years the turbulent economic, social and military situation in Europe made frequent, safe travel out of the question. During the medieval era, however, tourism again appeared thanks to a growing interest in pilgrimages. The organisers arranged the tourism basics of itineraries and places to eat and sleep. And from records such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, it’s evident that many pilgrims were keen to relax and enjoy themselves as well as visit a holy shrine. In fact it’s from the Old English word hāligdæg (holy day) that “holiday” derives. But it was two other factors hundreds of years later that encouraged the start of more widespread and regular tourism: health and culture. Those who could afford to do so began to visit the spa and seaside towns of eighteenth century Europe to benefit from the spring waters and fresh air. Others, most notably the English, took educational holidays to countries such as Italy with the intention of studying paintings, sculptures and architecture, and visiting historical sites. Straightforward leisure tourism took hold when industrialisation across Europe gave rise to an affluent middle class with an increasing amount of free time. Entrepreneurs started to build tourist hotels with an infrastructure of roads, carriages and ferries. Tourism began to take shape as an international industry. The industry was popular and steadily successful from the early nineteenth century. But for the most part, it was expensive and limited to a small number of locations. Then everything suddenly changed. In the 1960s, a growing number of people had disposable incomes, and with this extra money came a desire for a different lifestyle. At the same time, reasonably-priced commercial aircraft were able to carry passengers to and from any airport in the world. Mass tourism had arrived, and with it there came an extraordinary growth in facilities. Fishing villages on the southern coast of Spain, for instance, became resorts that were household names. Elsewhere, business people...
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