A tourism region is a geographical region that has been designated by the state or tourism managing authority as having common cultural or environmental characteristics. These regions are often named after the historical region or current administrative and geographical regions. Others have names created specifically for tourism purposes. The names highlight positive qualities of the area and suggest a wholesome tourism experience to visitors. Countries, states, provinces, and other administrative regions are often carved up into tourism regions. In addition to drawing the attention of potential tourists, these tourism regions often provide tourists who are otherwise unfamiliar with an area with a manageable number of options.
Some of the more famous tourism regions based on historical or current administrative regions include Tuscany in Italy and Yucatán in Mexico. Famous examples of regions created by a government or tourism bureau include the United Kingdom’s Lake District and California’s Wine Country in the United States.
Historically, tourism regions developed in areas widely considered to be of historical, cultural, or natural importance such as the Niagara Falls region of New York and Canada, the Lake District of England, the French Riviera and the Italian Riviera. Others developed around specific attractions such as a major city, i.e. Paris, or a monument such as the Pyramids of Giza. Tourist regions have existed for thousands of years for relaxation and leisure as well as for religious expression. For example,the ancient Romans visited the hot springs of Bath in Roman Britain while Santiago de Compostela was a site of mass Christian pilgrimage supported by a major medieval tourism industry that provided travelers with accommodations along their pilgrimage route.
Governments around the globe have attempted to maximize tourism potential by creating tourism regions. This process consists of dividing their territories into discrete tourism regions in such a way that every inch of that country, state, or region is given an attractive name, provided with advertising, and basic tourism infrastructure such as signage. Some traditionally heavily visited countries such as France have implemented this strategy to encourage tourists who would normally only spend time in more famous areas such as Paris and the French Riviera to venture out into designated tourism regions such as the Western Loire Valley and Franche-Comté. The first of these is a more recently constructed region, while Franche-Comté has been a distinct political and cultural region since the Middle Ages.