A Historical View of Tourism

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  • 0:03 What Is Tourism?
  • 0:33 The Beginnings of Tourism
  • 1:31 Tourism in the Modern Era
  • 2:44 20th Century Tourism Boom
  • 4:09 International Tourism
  • 4:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Tourism has a very interesting history beginning thousands of years ago. In this lesson, you will explore that history and also see how the tourism industry has changed and grown from local places to the entire world!

What Is Tourism?

Even if you haven't personally traveled, then you probably know someone that has. That travel might have been to a destination a few hours away, or it could have been to somewhere much farther like a whole different country. This traveling to different places is also called tourism. Tourism, as you know it today, wasn't always like this. People used to travel in a much different way. That is what you'll learn in this lesson.

The Beginnings of Tourism

Tourism had its beginning as far back as the Egyptians and Babylonians - and probably before that, too. Back then, travel wasn't necessarily for pleasure but rather for necessity. People traveled to find food and to escape dangers. Others traveled for religious pilgrimages several times a year. It wasn't until the Roman Empire came that travel became more popular as a leisure activity. Rome, at its peak, provided people with more money they could use for leisure activities. Rome also built a road system that was relatively safe to travel on, along with places for travelers to rest.

During the Middle Ages, a network of roads, taverns, and inns were set up along pilgrimage routes to accommodate pilgrims visiting religious sites in France, Spain, and Italy. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales tells of the adventures that a group of pilgrims share.

Tourism in the Modern Era

Fast forward to the 1600s, and now you see people using their extra money to travel to famous spas and other countries to learn about culture and the arts in those countries. It was not uncommon for young aristocrats from England to travel to Italy and to France for their ''Grand Tour'', visiting ancient ruins, Renaissance churches, and other cultural sites to gain a greater appreciation of the arts

In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution created a new middle class in many countries, and the middle class suddenly had the time and the money to enjoy itself. Traveling for leisure was no longer exclusively for the upper classes. Advancements came when different forms of travel were invented. For example, trains were invented in the 1830s. The passenger train came about in 1841 with Thomas Cook putting together a special outing train starting at Leicester and ending at Loughborough. With the advent of steam powered engines, sailing ships could cut the amount of time in crossing the Atlantic dramatically. Later, the car was invented and allowed people to travel farther distances with greater ease.

20th Century Tourism Boom

In the 1900s, you see tourism increase dramatically. After the two world wars and after the Great Depression lifted, people began earning a good living with more disposable income, so they wanted to explore. In 1950, air travel become affordable for many, especially the growing middle class. You saw a great increase in the number of people who traveled. Tourism facilities also increased to meet the demand. In the US, the interstate highway system was developed, and motel chains sprung up along these routes to accommodate tourists who drove.

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