For my first post, I’ve decided to write briefly about the history of tourism to lay a strong foundation for future posts. I’ve used as a reference an article of the magazine Biocontact n°202, written by Isabel Babou with the title ‘Des tourismes ? Non un tourisme, un seul.‘ (Different kinds of tourism? No, just one).
Isabel Babou is a consultant and lecturer in the tourism sector, and vice-president of l’Afest (French Association of Tourism Scientists and Experts). She holds a diploma as judiciary expert and is the co-author (with Philippe Callot) of the book ‘Dilemmes du tourisme‘ (Dilemmas of tourism), from Vuibert editions.
From Travel to Tourism
Travelling is often considered as the ancestor of tourism. The Larousse dictionary, 1876 indicates that ‘in the time of the stagecoaches, the tourist was almost non-existent, there were only travellers‘. If tourism nowadays is a pleasure, travelling has not always been so.
Nor the Greek neither the Romans considered that the joys of travelling, war and pilgrimages justified their trips. The Greek had emissaries in charge of delivering presents and offerings, so they wouldn’t have to travel. For the Romans, quite stay-at-home people, travelling was a synonym of exile and loss of roots.
If travel has always existed, when did it become tourism?
- 1741: The Englishmen William Windham and Richard Pococke publish ‘Account of the glaciers or Ice Alps in Savoy‘
- 1760: The English invent the concept of ‘Hotel‘. From 1895 there are continuous improvements in comfort: Running water, electricity in all the rooms, then private toilets. The Ritz hotel in Paris was the first one to provide such a luxury in all its rooms.
- 1830: The Railway is invented.
- 1838: Stendhal publishes ‘Memoirs of a tourist‘
- 1856: Thomas Cook launches the first organised trips.
- 1936: Law for paid holidays in France
- 1948: The paid holidays are included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- 1950: Opening of the first Club Med village (original all-inclusive resort).
During the sixties and thanks to the development of the air transport, the North-Americans start flying to islands in the Caribbean and Hawaii. The tropical sun becomes a product sold by the tour-operators and the hotel chains. It is the beginning of the winter sun.
The first definitions
The definition of tourist from the dictionary Larousse 1896: ‘person who travels out of curiosity or idleness‘.
This idea of ‘Pleasure of travelling’ is modern and linked to the industrial revolution, which instituted work as a universal value, while before idleness was the norm. Thus, the right to leisure is born: etymologically ‘leisure’ means ‘to be permitted, not to be pressed’.
This 130 year old definition apparently still holds. It contains all the elements of today’s tourism (negative image, tourism of masses, disdainful). The masses work and therefore they have the right to enjoy their leisure time.
Jules Sandeau, poet-playwright of the XIX century, advocates clearly for the pleasures of the places empty of tourists: ‘This small country is poor but picturesque; what I like most is that it is ignored, that no indiscreet tourist has ever betrayed the mistery‘.
We prefer the definition of the Larousse dictionary 1889: ‘Person who travels on foot for his or her own pleasure and education‘. It is interesting to note here the way of transport and the motivations behind the trip. This is what the responsible tourism of the XXI century will be about.
Related articles: History of Tourism (2/2)