Traveling as a Global Phenomenon
It used to be the privilege of the richest. Today it is mass and related to almost all social classes, generations, lands. Thereby it became a separate branch of economy, it is studied at separate universities, managed through special departments in governments, and special organizations and media are engaged in it. Since mid-XIX century, when first organized forms of this activity in the modern sense of the word were recorded, different forms of tourism have been classified, from adventurous to space, from hitchhiking to elite, from sports to health, from metropolis to seaside and mountain…

By: Nenad Despotović

All definitions of tourism, and there are certainly many and of many kinds, are based on traveling as the key concept. Traveling, that ancient phenomenon, has been attractive to people from the ancient times. People have traveled in order to see a smaller or larger part of the up to then known world, discover unknown and more convenient roads leading to important places on earth. Afterwards, caravans or ships passed there, delivering spices, noble metals, precious stones, all kinds of goods. Traveling as an adventure or exploring was crowned as power and treasure. From that point, one branch of history separates and leads to a never-ending story about traveling as searching for a hidden treasure, the treasure being both the result of the journey and the strongest drive for it.
However, even in those ancient times, those who could afford it ”traveled to the distant world to see famous edifices and other artworks, to learn new languages, meet new cultures”. Great world travelers and travel writers became famous both in their own and in other nations, in all periods. Even today, adventure novels are written and films made about them.
The old chronicles state that even ancient people, such as the Persians, Greeks and Romans, traveled to distant cities and lands, to salutary springs, spas and baths, to find remedy for their visible and invisible illnesses. Rich Romans, especially at the time of the Republic, traveled to numerous seaside resorts, even went as far as the Portugal ocean shore.


The beginnings of tourism in the modern sense of the word – mass tourism – were in the XIX century. It is believed that a certain Thomas Cook designed the first organized tourist trip in 1841. He leased a whole train and organized the trip of 570 passengers to a congress. Each passenger was graciously served tea, and live music was playing. And all this for only a shilling per person. Later he widely developed that model of traveling and concluded special contracts with the railway.
Exactly thirty years later, in 1871, while Paris streets were burning and the Commune established and suffocated, the same Cook, Thomas Cook, organized the first tourist trip around the world. This information is saved in many encyclopedias published later.
For all that time, the terms tourism and tourists were not often mentioned. They officially started being used in 1937, in the then documents of the League of Nations, forerunner of the United Nations. Tourism was officially defined as follows:
”Traveling of people for a period longer than 24 hours to a country or place which is not their permanent residence.”
Tourists are those, as it further states, ”who travel for fun, to meetings related to any kind of missions, people on business trips and sea cruises, regardless if they last more or less than 24 hours”.
Numerous wider, more precise and more boring definitions were later invented, scientifically immaculate, but absolutely unbearable for passionate travelers, dreamers and poets. At the conferences in Dublin in 1950 and London in 1957, the international organization of official tourist organizations gave the status of tourists to ”students and young people in boarding houses and those who study abroad”. Confusing?
Oh, all this is only a fast sketch of the prehistory of present tourism as a global phenomenon.
Today it is something completely different. Tourism is one of the most attractive and a very profitable branch of economy. It is studied at special faculties, high schools and institutes, doctoral dissertations about it are defended, voluminous studies and textbooks are written. Management and marketing in tourism are specially studied, as well as agency, hotel and other forms of business in this field. Most relevant governments in the world have a ministry of tourism, just like most countries have their national tourist organizations. Many countries, including Serbia, have special tourist organizations in all regions, in all cities and municipalities, even in mountain and spa centers. All significant media houses have special desks or reporters-editors who deal with tourism. It became a special area of journalism with separate societies, clubs, awards, we could even say with a special reporters’ philosophy.
The annual turnover in modern tourism is tens and hundreds of billions of Euros, and around ten million tourists at least once or twice a year travel to closer or more distant tourist destinations. According to classifications in this époque, there are different forms of tourism, from adventure to space, from hitchhiking to elite, from sports to health, from metropolis to mountain tourism.
That road from a small personal adventure to a big planetary business actually represents a sketch for the brief history of tourism which we also will, already in this year that has just started, update with our journeys, summer and winter vacations.


Mass Phenomenon
Tourism used to be the privilege of the richest, and only people from the ”first world” used to travel. However, the main characteristic of present tourism is the fact that it became a mass, global phenomenon. Today, people from the ”second”, even ”third” world travel too, members of many social classes, and even the previous age limitations disappeared.


Textbooks state that motives for a tourist trip are resting, fun, adventure, learning, studying (specializations), therapy, sports (mountaineering, speleology, paragliding, diving, hunting, fishing, water or snow skiing…), business (congresses, symposiums, business trips…)… Based on our personal experiences, we could add at least a few more.


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