Is Tourism the World's Largest Industry?

Topics: Tourism, World Tourism Organization Pages: 3 (1041 words) Published: November 16, 2008
Is tourism the world’s largest industry
Tourism is a typical activity of fashion that the public participate widely and it has grown in importance over recorded human history. Innumerable articles refer tourism as “the world’s largest industry”; policy-makers, analysts, and scholars often speak of the size of the tourism compared to that of other industries (Smith 2004: 26). These series of misleading statement, together with the mass media’s reports (out of context), make the idea that tourism is a single large industry branded into many people’s minds. However, in this essay I will demonstrate that it is a simplistic and misleading idea, which should be replaced by the plural term, “tourism industries”. Moreover, tourism is not the world’s largest industry, but largest service sector.

Is tourism an industry and if not, what is it and how can it be defined? To answer these questions we need to find the definition of industry first. An industry is a group of firms producing products and/or services that are close substitutes for each other(……). To be considered as an industry, it must meet three factors -- individual businesses, revenues of those businesses, and a common product. Now let’s see what tourism is. However, there is no single definition, that is to say no agreement on what tourism should be. There are some reasons: tourism includes a number of diverse sectors (e.g. transport, accommodation, attractions, other services); tourism includes a number of academic subjects -- some argue that as a subject tourism is conceptually weak; difficult to establish strict boundaries around tourism both as a business and as an area of academic study; weak data sources which make comparisons between countries difficult. In addition, tourism definitions can be either conceptual or technical. By conceptual we mean a way of thinking about tourism that helps us to understand this activity. By technical we mean a way of measuring tourism by applying certain criteria...

References: Davidson, T. (2005) “What are travel and tourism: are they really an industry?” in Global Tourism (3rd edn), Oxford, Elsevier, pp25-31
Leiper, N. (2008) “Why the ‘tourism industry is misleading as a generic expression: the case for the public variation, ‘tourism industries’”, Tourism Management, Vol 29, pp237-251
Lew, A. (2008) Tourism is not the world’s largest industry -- so stop saying it is [Online] Available at: Accessed: 28 October 2008
Smith, S. (2004) “The measurement of global tourism: old debates, new consensus, and continuing challenges” in A companion to tourism, A. Lew, C. Hall, & A. Williams, eds., USA, Blackwell Publishing, pp25-35
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