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Exploring the Travelling Industry and types of tourism

Updated: Feb 7

Publication date: 04.08.2023

As one of the world’s fastest-growing markets and largest employers, the travelling industry is not to be overlooked. Although quickly recovering after the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, there’s still a long way to go. Before delving into the impact of the industry, we must first understand its components and types.

Definitions of Tourism

There are different definitions of tourism, but all of them encompass staying outside one's usual environment for no longer than six months. The purpose of travel could be leisure, business, or other. This definition takes into account domestic tourism, which has grown significantly in the past several years. Technology and transportation infrastructure have been credited with increasing tourism’s affordability and convenience, while the internet has led to its growth.

Impact of Covid-19 and high inflation rates

Notwithstanding the industry’s significant recovery since COVID-19, it has yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. Despite high inflation rates in 2022 and 2023 slowing down the recovery, some experts expect this improvement to continue. 65% of them, however, believe tourism will only return to pre-pandemic levels in 2024.

toursim in exotic places

Types of Tourism

There are two types and several forms, differentiated by the purpose of the visit. Firstly, based on the location of travel, tourism is categorised as:

Domestic Tourism

It involves a country’s residents only travelling within that country’s borders. As there’s no need for travel documents or additional formalities, travel of this kind is more accessible. Based on the purpose of travel, it can further be divided into:

1. Common interest tourism: visiting friends and family, with little need for facilities at the destination

2. Holiday tourism: most common, includes sightseeing and recreation

3. Business tourism: the same facilities as those for holiday tourists are sought after.

International Tourism

Involves the visit of a foreign country. This requires travel documents (i.e., passport, visa, etc.), adjusting to traditions and customs, and a more or less significant language barrier. International tourism is divided into two types: inbound and outbound.

Inbound Tourism

Also known as ‘export tourism’, it involves tourists entering a country and paying for services with foreign currency. In contrast to domestic tourism, inbound tourists tend to spend both more time and more money during their stay.

Outbound Tourism

The act of leaving one’s own country during travel, with the main destination being outside this country. According to the UN's IRTS 2008, outbound tourism expenditures include expenditures that occur outside of the economy of reference.

Classification of Tourism

1. Business Tourism

People travel for professional reasons such as attending conventions, conferences or meetings. Travel plans may be extended for leisure purposes, or may even be combined under the term ‘Bleisure’ (business and leisure).

2. Recreational/Leisure Tourism

Encompassing adventure, cultural, urban as well as ecotourism, this is a relatively broad category. It’s more easily defined as travelling during one’s own free time for the purposes of relaxation and exploration.

3. Shopping tourism

Some are ready to travel across the world in order to purchase items not easily obtainable in their own region or country. Fashion is encompassed by this category. Popular destinations are cities like London, Milan, Paris, New York and Dubai.

4. Cultural tourism

Study tours, performing arts, festivals, monuments, folklore, and even pilgrimages are encompassed by cultural tourism.[2] It is an extremely lucrative business, accounting for 40% of European tourism according to the European Commission. For those unsure of where to go, UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites might offer a great deal of inspiration.

5. Sports tourism

From rafting on the Aluminé River in Argentina to skiing in the Alps, tourists can engage in any sport they like while travelling around the world. In this case, the choice of location is most often based on the desired sport. Being an athlete, however, is no requirement for this kind of travelling. Some choose to watch others play by attending sporting events such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.

6. Rural tourism

Rural areas with their cleaner environment might appeal to those who need a break from the chaos of the city. Through the inflow of capital, rural areas experience social and economic development. Throughout their stay, tourists can actively participate in the established routines of the countryside. These activities consider the value of the environment, thus promoting conservation.

7. Mountain tourism

This location is suitable for those who wish to spend their holidays skiing, hiking, mountain biking, or simply get away from the city. Despite its high potential to stimulate local economic growth, mountain ecosystems are fragile and thus unable to tolerate mass tourism. This isn’t the most suitable location for those who wish to spontaneously explore unknown routes. Visitors are often prohibited from straying off trails or camping outside specially designated areas. A significant portion of this type of travel is centred on wildlife.

8. Urban tourism

Tourism is a key pillar of cities’ economy and can have a significant influence on their development. Cities become more inclusive and self-sustainable, as better living conditions for residents and visitors are encouraged. From shopping to sightseeing to art museums, the vast range of activities attracts great numbers of tourists each year.

9. Health/Medical tourism

Under this category, people travel abroad in order to obtain medical services. This is especially prevalent for issues that can’t be treated locally. Medical or alternative treatments (hot springs, mud baths) are popular amongst those seeking solutions to their health issues.

10. Incentive Tourism

In order to reward successful employees, businesses will offer holiday trips as non-cash rewards. This is a quickly growing market, valued at USD 42 Billion in 2021 with an anticipated growth rate of 12.1% over the period 2022-2029.

As previously mentioned, there are many types of tourism and many destinations that cater to the visitors’ every desire. Here are some additional forms of tourism, some of which are more rarely encountered.

traveling around the world

Atomic Tourism - visitors travel to atomic history sites where they learn about the Atomic Age

Beach Tourism - tourists plan their holidays around beaches

Industrial Tourism - tourists wish to learn more about industries specific to a certain region by visiting factories and manufacturing sites

Religious Tourism - religious people visit important religious and cultural sites that are considered holy for them

Sex Tourism - quite ambiguously defined as travelling for the purposes of engaging in sexual behaviour

Virtual Tourism - combines virtual reality and tourism, facilitating travelling without having to go anywhere


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