Tourism is a booming industry and a driving force in positive economical, ecological, sustainable, social and cultural developments in several countries around the globe. Its complex nature requires sophisticated management in order to reach its full potential. Most people possess an intuitive and basic understanding of tourism, which focuses on an image of people travelling for recreational purposes, however, tourism, goes far beyond this simplistic view. According to Stear (2005), the area of studying tourism has an apparent lack of substance when it comes to defining the basic terms ‘tourism’ and ‘tourist’. Although the concept of tourism itself has been around for many centuries, the academic study of tourism in the tertiary educational sector is a recent development. There is no single definition of tourism to which everyone adheres. Many definitions have been used over the years, some of which are universal and can be applied to any situation, while others fulfil a specific purpose. This essay aims to define who exactly a ‘tourist’ is and what the term ‘tourism’ means through technical and heuristic definitions from articles written by Stear (2005), Dickman (1997), and McIntosh et al (1995). Throughout the essay definitions from organisations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will also be drawn upon. The ambiguity of two seemingly simple concepts in theory – who a tourist is and what tourism entails - will be discussed through a range of academic articles, which will address and highlight the strengths, weaknesses and differences between them. The foci and boundaries of each definition will be determined in order to assess their effectiveness. Whilst each definition is unique in their own right, there are also many similarities, which can be noted.
Weaver (2010) states that “the definition of ‘tourism’ is dependent on the definition of the ‘tourist’ and when defining whom exactly is a ‘tourist’, individuals must simultaneously meet certain spatial, temporal and purposive criteria”, which will be discussed below. First and foremost, Stear (2005) defines tourism as
“…Tourism is travel and temporary stay, involving at least one night away from the region of a person’s usual home that is undertaken with the major expectation of satisfying leisure needs that are perceived as being more enjoyably able to be satisfied by being at places outside of, and qualitatively different to, the home region ” (Stear 2005, pg. 8). Stear also has a clear definition of a tourist, which he refers to as “… A tourist is a person engaging in activities directly associated with present or future travel and temporary stay that involves at least one night away from the region of their usual home that is undertaken with the major expectation of satisfying leisure needs that are perceived as being more enjoyably able to be satisfied by places outside of, and qualitatively different to, the home region.” (Stear 2005, pg.11) A clear fault of Stear’s heuristic definitions of ‘tourism’ and ‘tourist’ is the limitation or restriction of the time period of “at least one night away”, in which Stear fails to take into account the temporal element of tourism. The notion of how long, if any time at all, that must be spent away from one’s usual home is an aspect, which is not uniform amongst definitions of tourism. Another weakness of Stear’s definitions is the limitation of “the region of a person’s usual home”, which implies that physically moving away from your home would make you a tourist. According to the UNWTO (cited in Weaver, 2010), for an individual to qualify as a tourist “travel must occur beyond the individual’s ‘usual environment’”. The spatial boundary of tourism as discussed by Weaver (2010) is unclear in this instance as an individual who lives in Sydney but stays in Canberra during the week for work would then be considered a tourist under this definition. Whilst Stear’s (2005) definition states a...
References: Dickman, S. (1997), Tourism: An Introductory Text, 3rd edn, Hodder Education, NSW, Australia
Goeldner, C & Ritchie, J., (2006). Tourism: Principles, Practices, Philosophies, 10th edn, John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ.
Leiper, N., (2004). Tourism Management, 3rd Edn, Malaysia: Pearson Education Australia.
McIntosh, R., Goeldner, C. & Ritchie, J., (1995). Tourism: Principles, Practices, Philosophies, 7th Edn, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Stear, L. 2005, Some heuristic definitions for Studying Highly Industrialised Tourism Systems, School of Leisure, Sport, and Tourism University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
Weaver, D, (2005). Tourism Management, 4th edn, John Wiley &Sons Australia Ltd, QLD, Australia.
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