The birth of tourism can be traced back to the 17th century, when young noblemen from western and northern European countries embarked on a educational trip around Europe to learn about history, art and cultural heritage. By the 18th century, this custom gained popularity among the wealthier classes and it spread to other parts of the world, such as America. Religious pilgrimages which originated in the Middle Ages were very popular too.
The Industrial Revolution triggered a movement of people from rural areas to growing urban areas which housed the industries.
New social classes emerged. Developments in transport triggered the birth of leisure, entertainment and travel. Train travel soared on account of the superb railways networks connecting parts of Europe with that in other parts of the world.
The first travel agencies came into being in the 19th century. One of the pioneers was Thomas Cook and Sons, who introduced the concept of group or package holidays, which included transport, accommodation, food and tickets at lower rates.
The first half of the 20th century saw a boom in the tourism industry thanks to the mass production of buses and cars. Coastal tourism gained prominence and after World War II, the Mediterranean coast became a hot holiday destination. Also, enhancements in air transport, as well as progress in labour legislation and growth in social welfare led to a boom in tourism.
The tourism sector ran into rough weather during the 1970s, mainly due to the energy crisis, leading to lower costs and prices. That’s when mass tourism emerged. Travelling became accessible to all.
In the following decades, hotel companies, travel agencies and airlines moved to foreign shores. The tourism sector had become one of the key economic drivers of many economies in the recent years, with low-cost flights and the existence of alternative accommodations, managed by online companies, it was much easier for tourists to afford travel and they could design their own itinerary and experiences to their liking. The COVID-19 pandemic halted this industry on its track.
Industry experts are hopeful this sector will see a recovery soon and regain its lost sheen. Hopefully happy days will be here again for this exciting industry.