Evolution of Tourism: From Antiquity to Modernism

Globalised tourism’s socio-economic place within the framework of the leisure and holidaying opportunities on offer today has attracted much attention. 

Tourism as a Globalised System

Tourism is seen as a global phenomenon with an almost incomprehensibly massive infrastructure.It influences society, politics, culture and, above all, the economy. This is the branch of the global economy with the most vigorous growth: the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) estimates that in 2007 it encompassed 904 million tourists who spent 855 billion US dollars. There exists a complex, interwoven world-wide structure dedicated to satisfying the specific touristic needs of mobile individuals, groups and masses. Since its inception, tourism has polarised: it reveals numerous views ranging from the total approval of its potential for enriching self-realisation combined with recreation to critical rejection due to the belief that it causes harm through the systematic dumbing down of entertainment and avoidable environmental destruction.

Beginning in the early 1920s, an early theory of Fremdenverkehr – a now obsolete term for tourism – emerged in the German-speaking world that dealt mainly with business and economic problems; since the 1960s, it has been replaced by the ever-expanding field of tourism studies.  Today, tourism studies means the multi-disciplinary bundle of academic approaches in the sense of an undisguised “transdiscipline”, which can find different applications. However, tourism studies does not exist as an integrated field of study. Instead, there are countless empirical accounts, case studies, approaches, theories and perspectives in individual disciplines, including economy, geography, psychology, architecture, ecology, sociology, political science and medicine.

 Early Forms of Travel and Types of Journey

Recreational and educational travel already existed in the classical world and, even earlier, in Egypt under the pharaohs. In the latter, there is evidence of journeys emanating from a luxury lifestyle and the search for amusement, experience and relaxation. The privileged groups of the population cultivated the first journeys for pleasure. Their writings tell us that they visited famous monuments and relics of ancient Egyptian culture, including, for example, the step pyramid of Sakkara, the Sphinx and the great pyramids of Gizeh – buildings that had been constructed a good thousand years earlier.The Greeks had similar traditions. They travelled to Delphi in order to question the Oracle, participated in the Pythian Games (musical and sporting competitions) or the early Olympic Games. Herodot (485–424 B.C.) , the well-travelled writer with an interest in both history and ethnology who visited Egypt, North Africa, the Black Sea, Mesopotamia and Italy, pioneered a new type of research trip.

Classical Rome also gave impetus to travelling and particular forms of holiday. Holiday travel became increasingly important due to the development of infrastructure. Around 300 A.D., there existed a road network with 90,000 kilometres of major thoroughfares and 200,000 kilometres of smaller rural roads. Road development gave an impetus to tourism. These facilitated not only the transport of soldiers and goods, but also private travel. Above all, wealthy travellers seeking edification and pleasure benefited from this system. In the first century after Christ, there was a veritable touristic economy which organised travel for individuals and groups, provided information and dealt with both accommodation and meals. The well-off Romans sought relaxation in the seaside resorts in the South or passed time on the beaches of Egypt and Greece. The classical world did not only have the “bathing holiday”, but also developed an early form of “summer health retreat” in swanky thermal baths and luxury locations visited by rich urban citizens during the hot months. Something that had its origins primarily in healthcare soon mutated into holidays for pleasure and entertainment, which could also include gambling and prostitution. The decline of the Roman Empire caused the degeneration of many roads. Travel became more difficult, more dangerous and more complicated.

The mobility of mediaeval corporate society was shaped by its own forms and understandings of travel tailored to diverse groups, including merchants, students, soldiers, pilgrims, journeymen, beggars and robbers. From the twelfth century, the movement of errant scholars became increasingly important. Journeys to famous educational institutions in France (Paris, Montpellier), England (Oxford) and Italy (Bologna) became both a custom and a component of education. The desire to experience the world emerged as an individual, unique guiding principle. Travelling tuned from a means into an end: now, one travelled in order to learn on the road and developed in doing so a love of travel and life that not infrequently crossed over into licentiousness and the abandonment of mores. With regard to the motivation for travel, one can see here an important process with long-term repercussions – travelling and wandering has, since then, been seen as a means of confronting oneself and achieving self-realisation.”Das subjektive Reiseerlebnis wird zu einem Kennzeichen der beginnenden Neuzeit: auf Reisen erlebt das eigene Ich seine Befreiung.”

The journeyman years of trainee craftsmen can be seen as a counterpart to those errant students “studying” at the “university of life”. The travels of journeymen were part of the highly traditional world of artisan and guild structures, for which documentation exists from the middle of the 14th century. Beginning in the 16th century, the guilds prescribed the common European practice of journeying as an obligatory element of training, often lasting three to four years. This survived as an institution with a rich and highly regimented set of codes well into the 18th century. The fundamental idea was that one could mature and learn while travelling, experience the world and improve one’s craft in order to grow through a test and return as an accomplished man. The fact that not all journeymen were successful and often suffered terrible fates is evident from reports of an “epidemic of journeymen” that circulated in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Precursors of Modern Tourism

An early form and precursor of modern tourism was the grand tour undertaken by young nobles between the 16th and 18th centuries.  This possessed its own, new structures that were clearly defined by corporate status: the original goal was to broaden one’s education, mark the end of childhood and acquire and hone social graces; however, over time, leisure and pleasure became increasingly important. The classic grand tour lasted between one and three years. Route, sequence and contacts, not to mention the educational programme, were planned down to the last detail. The aristocrats travelled with an entourage of equerries, tutors, mentors, protégés, domestic servants, coachmen and other staff. These provided for safety, comfort, education, supervision and pleasure in accordance with their specialised area of responsibility.

From England, the tours went on to, for example, France and Italy. Trips to the classical sites of Italy represented the highpoint of the journey, but large cities in other countries were visited: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid, Munich, Vienna and Prague had considerable drawing power. During the tour, the young aristocrats visited royal courts and aristocratic estates for, after all, one goal was to teach them the appropriate etiquette and social graces through practice.The nobles attended princely audiences, learned how to behave themselves at court and took part in parties and festivals:

Therefore, the aristocrats’ political, social and professional concerns determined the destinations, but these also catered to their interest in art, pleasure and leisure.The nobles barely came into contact with other classes and social groups – the social supervision of the entourage ensured this.  This was a specific form of dirigisme that followed strong social norms, was exclusive and elitist, and aimed to preserve the rule of the aristocracy.Two aspects are of importance for the history of touristic travel: the destination and the encounter with foreign countries and sights, interestingly at the interface of a supposed cultural gap between North and South:

From the Enlightenment into the 19th century, Bildungsreisen (“educational journeys”) undertaken by the (upper) middle class were an important stage in the development of tourism. The travels of the educated middle classes imitated those of prominent poets and philosophers, for example Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) , Charles Baron de Montesquieu (1689–1755) , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) , Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781) , Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803)  and many others.  They all travelled to Italy or France in search of edification and discussed the knowledge acquired abroad and their experiences in literary works, travelogues and travel novels. Educational travel expanded with the inclusion of other strata of the population and shorter trips. People journeyed in coaches, explored the countryside and cities, visited landmarks in order to experience nature, culture and art directly on the spot and deepen one’s understanding of them. Alongside middle-class travels in search of education and art, there developed a form of travelling oriented towards culture, industry and technology. These were information-gathering journeys driven by professional interests and economic motivations. The representatives of a middle-class entrepreneurial strata travelled to France, Britain and Germany with the express goal of learning about the technological progress and innovations of industrialisation.  They were interested in current developments in trade, agriculture, industry, technology and manufacturing, which they explored through direct contact with individuals.

There were many travellers like Morco Polo, Huin- Tsiang, Vidal de La Blache, Darwin  who explored for knowledge.

The “early”, “pre-” or “developmental” phase of modern tourism is generally considered to have lasted from the 18th century to the first third of the 19th century.During this stage, touristic travel remained confined to a minority of wealthy nobles and educated professionals. For them, travelling was a demonstrative expression of their social class which communicated power, status, money and leisure. Two characteristics stand out: on the one hand, the search for pleasure increasingly supplanted the educational aspects; on the other, wealthy members of the middle classes sought to imitate the travelling behaviour of the nobles and the upper middle classes. Consequently, aristocrats who wanted to avoid mixing with the parvenu bourgeoisie sought more exclusive destinations and pastimes.This is evident in the fact that they found renewed enthusiasm for bathing holidays and took up residence in luxurious spa towns with newly built casinos. These included Baden-Baden, Karlsbad, Vichy and Cheltenham, where life centred around social occasions, receptions, balls, horse races, adventures and gambling. Here, too, the nobles were “swamped” by entrepreneurs and factory owners. In response, they created a socially appropriate form of holidaying in costal resorts. The British aristocracy enjoyed Brighton and the Côte d’Azur, or wintered in Malta, Madeira or Egypt.

The Foundations of Modern Tourism

In the context of the history of tourism, the term “introductory phase” refers to all the developments, structures and innovations of modern tourism between the first third of the 19th century and around 1950. This had its own “starting phase”, which lasted until 1915. This period witnessed the beginning of a comprehensive process characterised by a prototypical upsurge in a middle-class culture of travel and its formation, popularisation and diversification. It prepared the way for a mass tourism recognisable to modern concepts of spending leisure time. The development progressed episodically and built upon a number of changing social conditions and factors. The most important undoubtedly include not only the advance of industrialisation, demographic changes, urbanisation and the revolution in transportation, but also the improvement of social and labour rights, the rise in real income and the resulting changes in consumer demand.

As early as the beginning of the 19th century, the opening up of the Central European system of transport brought about enormous change that genuinely deserves the designation as a “revolutionary development”. It also improved the mobility of tourists and created new trends. Short-stay and day trips became popular and made use of the modern advances in transport technology. Steam navigation began in Scotland in 1812; the continuous use of steam ships on German watercourses followed in 1820 and, in 1823, Switzerland received its first steam ship on Lake Geneva. Railways also created greater mobility. The first sections of track were opened in England in 1825, in France in 1828, in Germany in 1835, in Switzerland in 1844/1847 and in Italy in 1839. However, the railway’s use and popularisation of touristic routes and destinations only began somewhat later with the introduction of mountain railways towards the end of the 19th century.  The Vitznau-Rigi railway in Switzerland was Europe’s first mountain railway in 1871. The new means of transport enabled not only an increase in transport carrying capacity, but also reduced the cost of travelling. Moreover, ship and rail travel extend tourists’ field of vision, bringing about a distinct form of “panoramatised” perception (i.e. the background replacing the foreground as the centre of attention) and encouraging an interest in travel writing.

Though railway was not created to promote tourism. However, from mid-19th century, the latter employed the convenience of rail transport for its own purposes.  The railway therefore is rightly considered to be the midwife at the birth of modern mass tourism.One must still keep in mind that touristic travel remained the preserve of privileged parts of the population. This travelling acted as a form of middle-class self-therapy, the removal of the middle-class self from its existence in the shadow of the old aristocratic world in order to learn about modernity via a paradigmatic experience. It was another century before the lower middle and working classes could go on holiday. At first, they had to make do with day trips by train and ship in order to escape the city briefly.  The foremost practitioners of middle-class tourism were the manufacturing and trading families, educated professionals working in the state bureaucracy, schools and universities, as well as the new ‘freelance professions’, including writers, journalists, lawyers, artists, who were able to take the first steps out of the corporate society.From the 1860s, there were portentous indications of a popularisation. Travelling became a form of popular movement and an answer to the desire to relax among large sections of the population following the advance of industrialisation and urbanisation.

A number of instructional materials, steering mechanisms, innovations and forms of holiday of the 19th century were developed for middle-class travelling and holidaying needs. Guidebooks and travelogues in the form of travel literature acquired increasing importance; this type of text should not be underestimated – they had their precursors in the 18th century and created touristic destinations and perceptions.  The Briefe über die Schweiz (1784–1785) by the Göttingen professor Christoph Meiners (1747–1810)  and Heinrich Heidegger’s (1738–1823)  Handbuch für Reisende durch die Schweiz (1787) set a pattern. In terms of production and sales, Karl Baedeker (1801–1859)  achieved the greatest success as a writer of 19th-century German guidebooks.   He founded his publishing house in 1827 and produced a series of guidebooks with reliable, well-researched content. Their standardised format allowed the reader to find guidance and advice quickly and easily; the books developed their own way of conveying information.”The Baedeker”, however, contained more than information and recommendations; the publisher defined a style of travel and which tourist attractions were worth visiting: Indeed, tourist attractions soon became touristic obligations; sightseeing became a must. John Murray’s (1808–1892)  publishing house in London had a similar goal; in 1836, it successfully brought out the “Red Book” – the first guidebook to Holland, Belgium and the Rhineland. Guidebooks, with their own, prominently normative didacticism occupy a place in the interesting history of functional writing.

The Boom in Mass Tourism in the 19th Century

Organised group holidays offering an all-inclusive price that reduced the travellers’ costs were an innovation of the 1840s. Thomas Cook (1808-1892) , a brilliant entrepreneur from England, is seen as their inventor and thus the pioneer of commercialised mass tourism. His first all-inclusive holiday in 1841 took 571 people from Leicester to Loughborough and supplied both meals and brass music. From 1855, Cook offered guided holidays abroad, for example in 1863 to Switzerland. These catered to a mixed clientele, from heads of state and princes to average representatives of the middle, lower middle and working classes. Cook, inspired by clear socio-political motives, wanted to use Sunday excursions to tempt workers out of the misery and alcoholism of the cities into the green of the countryside. He had more success with inexpensive all-inclusive holidays, often to foreign destinations, for the middle class. His introduction of vouchers for hotels and tourist brochures was highly innovative.

Cook’s pioneering role in the emergence of mass tourism is widely recognised. He influenced the travel agencies later opened in Germany, above all those associated with the names of Rominger (Stuttgart, 1842), Schenker & Co. (München, 1889) and the Stangen Brothers (Breslau, 1863). Carl Stangen (1833–1911)  organised holidays through Europe, then from 1873 to Palestine and Egypt, before extending them to the whole world in 1878. Over this period, the travel agency was able to establish itself as a specialised institution. It channelled ever greater demands for relaxation and variety among broadening social strata: from the 1860s, travelling became a type of “popular movement” that spread throughout society. The German writer Theodor Fontane (1819–1898)  remarked in 1877: “Zu den Eigentümlichkeiten unserer Zeit gehört das Massenreisen. Sonst reisten bevorzugte Individuen, jetzt reist jeder und jede … Alle Welt reist … Der moderne Mensch, angestrengter, wie er wird, bedarf auch größerer Erholung”.

The opening of the Alps  to tourists was an equally important development of the 19th century.  It was preceded by an affinity for nature acquired under the influence of the Enlightenment and Romanticism that sentimentalised the mountains. This created a flock of what would soon be called tourists made up of researchers, nobles, artists, painters, writers and other members of the educated classes, as well as the upwardly mobile middle classes, who followed Albrecht von Haller (1708–1777) , Horace-Bénédict de Saussure (1740–1799)    and Rousseau in their search for natural beauty and the mountains. This romanticisation of alpine harmony replaced the mediaeval fear of the mountains and underwent a “touristisation” over the 19th century. Two groups propelled this process – the aristocracy and the new middle class. The pioneers were enthusiastic British mountaineers who pursued the exclusive sport in Switzerland, charging up the summit and encouraging the development of infrastructure (the construction of hotels, Alpine huts, mountain railways, Anglican chapels and so on) through their continues presence, as well as leaving behind the traces of a cultural transfer. One interpretation of this is that “die als Eroberungen ausgegebenen Bergbesteigungen nichts anderes als die Fortführung imperialer Politik mit anderen Mitteln darstellten, zunächst in den westlichen Teilen, dann … in den östlichen Teilen der Alpen, danach zunehmend in Hochgebirgsregionen außerhalb Europa, vor allem in Asien”

Mountaaineering associations founded across the continent led the way. Significantly, the first was the Alpine Club (1857) in London, followed by the Austrian Alpenverein (1862), the Swiss Alpenclub (1863), the Club Alpino Italiano (1863) and the German Alpenverein (1869). Most of these subsequent associations set themselves broader goals than the British club, which chose to remain an aristocratic sports body. The mountaineering associations soon acquired popularity, although they were somewhat conservative, and their impact was enormous. They produced club reports, almanacs and guidebooks to routes, while membership increased considerably and the infrastructure (hotels, bread and breakfasts, huts, guide, paths and cable cars) was extended. The mountaineering associations and their branches soon stimulated a mass middle-class mountaineering movement that initially centred on Switzerland. A tendency developed whereby the movement increasingly encompassed lower social classes, at the turn of the century finally including proletarian tourist associations such as the Naturfreunde (“The Friends of Nature” – Vienna, 1895) and later the loosely associated organisations of Der Wandervogel (“The Migratory Bird” – Berlin, 1905).  Thus, the enthusiasm for mountaineering underwent first a “bourgeoisification” and then a “proletariatisation”. This early social tourism was characterised by a new collective ethos mixed with non-commercial elements that have been understood as the precursors of “soft tourism”. These intermingled with distinct forms of sociability, the conscious appreciation of the environment and consideration for the local population, countryside and cultural assets.

Holidaying Practices in the Interwar Period

The development of tourism in the 20th century can be divided using a number of different periodisations. It is common, and plausible, to identify a “developmental phase” between 1915 and 1945. This covers the stagnation in tourism as a result of the First World War, but also transitional developments that steadily acquired importance. It was preceded by a period of growth in which, for example, the number of stays in a hotel or other form of holiday accommodation in Germany rose about 471 percent between 1871 and 1913, a good seven times faster than the level of growth in the population. The bulk of these belonged to the upper middle class, and soon the entire middle class, who made their way to the newly opened coastal resorts on the North and Baltic Seas, as well as to the spa, health and gambling resorts.  Germans took to bathing holidays relatively late in comparison to the pioneering British and, at first, for health reasons, with socialising and recreation coming later. However, they became increasingly popular, as evident in the development of famous locations, coastal resorts and beaches.  The loss of their former exclusivity and the shift towards entertainment and distraction signified an increase in social accessibility, whereas, for example, the new ski and winter tourism retained its chic clientele at the turn of the century. 

The dominant motif of travelling and holidaying after 1900 was recuperation. However, only those involved in intellectual work had an established right to relaxation; this right was extended from nobles, the middle-class professions and high-ranking bureaucrats to entrepreneurs, merchants, mid-ranking bureaucrats, white-collar workers and teachers.Without doubt, this was connected to the regulation of holidays as part of legal agreements on pay. Most European countries lacked strict holiday rights before 1900: with the exception of a few pioneering cases, paid time off work for more than a day only became established in law after the First World War. In Germany, the Reichsbeamtengesetz of 1873, which outlined the employment conditions of state employees (Beamte), was the beginning. At first, it was only relevant to state employees, and holidays for other employees remained the exception before the First World War, only becoming possible after it, for example in Austria through the Arbeiterurlaubsgesetz (Law on Workers’ Holidays ) of 1919. Similar developments took place in Switzerland: holidays for the civil servants of the federal administration were first subject to regulation in 1879, but only established as a legal right in 1923. In industry, holiday rights were only granted much later. Among 100 Swiss factories, for example, in 1910 only 11.9 percent gave their employees paid holidays; by 1944, this figure had risen to 87.9 percent.The right to holiday enshrined in normal work contracts today is an achievement of the 20th century. In Switzerland, this right was not regulated uniformly. In different cantons, the situation developed independently, although from the 1930s collective work contracts became important; one paid week off was usual. Only after 1945 did most cantons extend their laws on holidays to the entire labour force. Germany did not pass a general law on holiday rights until 1963.

One innovative new form of holidaying that also came to include families with children was the “summer retreat”.  From the 1870s, the term, first used in 1836, referred to a middle-class holidaying practice whose practitioners sought relaxation in the countryside as an alternative to the seaside during the summer. The summer retreat can be understood “als eine über einige Wochen ausgedehnte Serie von Tagesausflügen …, bei denen für diese Zeit die Wohnung in der Stadt mit einem einfachen Gasthof oder Privatzimmer in ländlicher Gegend vertauscht wird, oft nur wenige Bahnstunden vom Wohnsitz entfernt. Sie dient vor allem der Erholung der Familie, insbesondere der Kinder, nicht der Teilnahme an einem kostspieligen Vergnügungsbetrieb oder an gesellschaftlichen Veranstaltungen”. At first, the lower middle and working classes could not afford a summer retreat with the family, while Sunday excursions became a custom for middle-class families before 1914 – these slowly extended to the whole weekend and then several days.

After the crisis of the First World War, the summer retreat offered a simple, healthy and economical holiday, which from the 1920s was accessible to employees and workers on low incomes. Love of the countryside and a desire for the simplicity of rural life inspired by a critical view of the city, preferably in the beauty of low mountain ranges, seem to indicate a particularly German variety of the summer retreat, which differed from trips to Scandinavian or Russian holiday cottages or dachas.  The behaviour of Germans on summer retreat created a repertoire that came to define the practice:

The presence of people on summer retreat left behind the first traces of a touristic infrastructure, for example the designation of walking trails and the construction of guest houses, bothies, forest restaurants, observation towers and recreational opportunities.

Between 1933 and 1939, the National Socialist regime in Germany brought new impulses, an increasing amount of travel and holidaying practices aimed at the masses. These developments overcame the once essentially middle-class nature of travel by creating a social or popular tourism characterised by the state organisation of holidaying and recreation. It goes without saying that tourism served the political system and the National Socialist ideology. The various stages and graduated pattern of use of the new tourism are conspicuous, providing an object lesson in the inherent potential for a totalitarian regime to exploit tourism politically. Mass tourism emerged in the Third Reich. For the historian of tourism, this form of holidaying, guided from above, was characterised by its claim to democratisation on behalf of the general workforce, the Volk. Hitler wanted to grant the worker a satisfactory holiday and do everything to ensure that this holiday and the rest of his free time would provide true recuperation. “Ich wünsche das, weil ich ein nervenstarkes Volk will, denn nur allein mit einem Volk, das seine Nerven behält, kann man wahrhaft große Politik machen.”

The National Socialists implemented this goal through the creation of a body to organise recreation – the Nationalsozialistische Gemeinschaft Kraft durch Freude (“The National Socialist Association Strength through Joy” – KdF) and a ministry Reisen, Wandern, Urlaub (“Travelling, Hiking, Holiday” – RWU), both of which were subordinate to the party. In order to avoid resistance to the social transformation, workers received at first between three and six days holiday per year. From 1937, the majority of wage-earners had from six to twelve days off per year and could benefit from the new, very cheap, opportunities for holidays and travel: walking tours, train journey, cruises with accommodation and meals achieved great popularity. This is evident from record statistics that testify to an unprecedented boom in travel: the 2.3 million journeys undertaken in 1934 rose to five million in 1935, 9.6 million in 1937 and 10.3 million in 1938. In the six years before the outbreak of war, 43 million journey, cruises and walking tours were sold at cheap prices that could not be competed with, for example seven days in Norway for 60 Reichsmark or 18 days in Madeira for 120 Reichsmark.

The Expansion of Tourism and Globalisation

The last phase embraces the developments in tourism during the post-war period up to the present. Depending on one’s perspective, this is the apex of tourism or the phase of practice and consolidation These are justified labels for the period’s combination of infrastructural construction and renovation, streams of tourists and holidaying as a common form of recreation: indeed, over the last few decades, tourism has become an important branch of the global economy and is a defining characteristic of modern industrial nations. Tourism crosses borders: spatial, temporal, social and cultural. This is its common denominator. There is a consensus that the enormous boom during the post-war period was bound up with economic growth, technological progress, a high level of competition and the creation of new destinations and travelling styles. The increase in recreational mobility among broad strata of society should be seen against this background. Various factors brought about this boom, including rising affluence, urbanisation, the unprecedented construction of transportation and communication networks , and the increase in leisure time as a result of shortening working hours, all of which shaped socialisation.

However, this growth in tourism after the war only came slowly and in Germany, Austria and Switzerland remained confined to domestic destinations.  Involved in this were, alongside trade union bodies, the holiday organisations and travel agencies, as well as the large travel companies, which acquired increasing importance. Subsidised “social tourism” for families and young people, which helped those parts of the population on low incomes to go on holiday, was a noticeable trend in several countries. Social policies, holiday funds, subsidies, charities and entire holiday camps and villages for workers and low-income employees can be found in France, Austria, Germany and, above all, in Switzlerand.

The apex of European tourism began in the 1960s: in response to the economic situation and strategic innovations in the market economy, commercial tour operators and travel companies transformed the nature of competition through increasingly cheaper offers, propelling it in the direction of mass tourism, introducing new destinations and modes of holidaying. Here, tourism produced its own structures and secondary systems.Many travel agencies and tourist organisations were set up, while department stores also offered package holidays, for example Neckermann in Germany from 1963 und Jelmoli in Switzerland from 1972. The replacement of bus and rail travel with journeys by car and caravan, and later by air, provided a powerful stimulus. Charter tourism occupied a flourishing market sector and established itself with cheap offers for foreign holidays. Foreign tourism first affected neighbouring countries and then more distant destinations – Austria and Switzerland were popular among German holidaymakers, but Italy and Spain later gained increasing prominence: From about 1970, journeys abroad clearly represented the majority; this trend towards foreign holidays has recently grown even stronger. In general, the number of teenagers and adults taking foreign holidays rose more than threefold over the 40 years before 1991 – from nine to 32 million.

However, the researcher must differentiate between the varying levels of intensity that this boom possessed in different European countries. To do this, one must look at the frequency, forms of travel, trends and destinations, as well as countless statistics and market studies, the results of which indicate social and cultural holidaying traditions. In the mid-1970s, 70 to 80 percent of the Scandinavia’s adult population went on holiday, while in Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland this figure was 60 percent and in Italy about 25 percent. Foreign tourism dominated this phase and many resorts and beaches on the Mediterranean and regions in the newly opened up Alpine countries became magnates for holidaymakers that, later, developed into strongholds of tourism.  On the supply side, the infrastructure underwent intensive construction: some Alpine villages (St. Moritz, Zermatt, Lech) were entirely transformed into tourist and skiing resorts; rural provinces (Provence, Côte d’Azur, Tirol), cities (Venice,  Salzburg), costal areas  (on the Adriatic Sea, Kenya) and islands (Mallorca, Rhodes, the Maldives, Sylt) increasingly mutated into holiday areas, resorts and complexes.

However, the increase in touristic traffic hints at another social and structural expansion, the impact of which has been gaining strength since the 1990s. Holidays and travel are becoming accessible to ever broader strata of the population; not only “traditional” holidaymakers – i.e. state employees, white-collar workers, graduates and urban workers – have benefited. The rural population and social groups defined by age and gender (women, singles, pensioners) have taken advantage of tourism,something which is evident from the specific products tailored to their various demands. This picks up on a central characteristic of modern tourism – diversification and specialisation as a result of globalisation . This corresponds to tourism’s apparently unbridled potential, regardless of the facts that little structural development has taken past over the last decade and that touristic tastes and behaviour have been reasonably stable since the Second World War, albeit with some changes in emphasis.

On the one hand, this view is contradicted by the institution of “club holidays” such as the “Club Méditerannée” (1955), the “Club Soleil” (1966), the “Robinson Club” (1970), the “Club-Aldiana” (1973) and others, which have very successfully put into practice their own holidaying formulas and philosophies. On the other, artificial holiday worlds in the form of amusement parks and theme parks are becoming increasingly important:Disneyland,  Europa-Park, Port Aventura, Sun City and many others have annual visitor numbers in the tens of millions and are still experiencing constant growth.  These are made up of post-modern pseudo-events, simulated worlds and hyper-realities which the tourists internalise as adventure, fun, game and competition, despite the fact that the visitors see through their artificiality. Such experiential constructs come and go. For the historian of tourism, this represents a shift that is noteworthy on account of its systematic nature: the traditional touristic consumption of symbols (sights, other worlds) have been extended or replaced by an experience-laden entertainment culture that is part of a new way of perceiving the world. This has global characteristics; it is breaking down boundaries by mutating and is thus moving towards a globalised system with specific, increasingly interchangeable forms and modes of experience.Only time will tell what structures will emerge from this innovative potential.

 

Source(s):

European History Online

 

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About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
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