This article explains the meaning and definition of tourism. Besides, it also incorporates the characteristics, types of tourism, facts about tourism, and the meaning and definition of tourism followed in various countries.

The Meaning and Definition Of  Tourism

When we think of tourism, we might perceive tourism as people who travel to a particular place for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, taking a vacation, and spending a good time. We even believed tourism as a person who spends their leisure time engaging with various tourism-related activities, such as sunbathing, sports, touring, etc.  Besides, tourism is not just a global holiday or air travel. When you think about tourism, many ideas might come to mind.

Thus,  tourism includes a wider concept. It includes a visit to hill stations, snow-covered hills, beaches, or a long journey, etc. In addition, it also incorporates people who travel for conferences, research, seminars, business-related activities, etc. These travelers use all forms of transport and various tourism facilities such as rail, cruise ships, airlines, etc.

In short, we can say that tourism is the movement of people to destinations outside the area where they live and work. Tourism does not only include traveling to a particular place. It also incorporates the activities taken during travel to meet their needs. Thus, the tourists carry out on-site as well as activities and services to meet the needs of the tourists.

To know the transition of travel and tourism, it will be wise to understand the history of tourism.

Definition of Tourism


In the year 1977, Jafari describes the meaning and definition of tourism as “The study of man away from his usual habitat, of the industry which response to his needs, and of the impacts that both he and the industry have on the host’s socio-cultural, economic, and physical environment”.


According to UNWTO, they defined the meaning and definition of tourism as “Tourism comprises the activities of the person traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes”.

As per WTO, the term “Unusual Environment” is intended to exclude travel within the place of residence, travel to the usual place of works, or local day-to-day activities. The idea of twelve months is intended to exclude the long term migration.

In simple words, tourism is a travel to a particular place for more than 24 hours and participate in tourism-related activities. For example, scuba diving in Lakshadweep Island.

League of Nation

In the year 1937, we can see the meaning and definition of tourism was made by the League of Nation. They define tourism as “The term tourist shall in principle be interpreted to mean any person traveling for a period of 24 hours or more in a country other than in which he usual resides”.


Five Main Characteristics of Tourism can be described from the above Definition:

Tourism arises from a movement of people and their stay in a particular place.

There are two elements to all tourism. The journey made by the traveler and the stay including activities at the tourism places.

The journey and stay should take place outside their residence and workplace.

The intention of the journey is of temporary and short-term character. The person who travels should return to his resident or workplace within a few days, weeks, or months.

The travelers visit the destination for purposes other than taking up permanent residents or to look for employment.

It Is Related to Leisure and Recreational Activities:

Leisure time is the time we have after all the basic needs such as works and sleep are carried out. In simple words, it is the free time we have. On the other hand, recreational activities are activities that are undertaken during leisure time. Both of these elements have become important to overcome the stress and tensions of everyday life.

It is now necessary to understand the right meaning of tourism and what it all includes. Therefore, the definition of tourism is explained by various notable people and organizations.

Meaning and Definition of Tourism In India:

In India, we follow the Meaning and Definition of Tourism defined by WTO. Below are the explanations about the Meaning and Definition of Tourism followed in India:

International Tourists:

It is a person who visits India on a foreign passport. The person should stay at least 24 hours in India. The visit can be for various reasons such as leisure. Holiday, religion, study, health, etc.

The following are not considered as a foreign tourist:

A person who came to India to take up occupation.

A person who came to India to establish residency in the country.

Nationals of Nepal who enter India through land-routes along India-Nepal border.

All foreigners entering India from Bhutan by land.

Domestics Tourist:

A domestic tourist is a person who travels within the country to a place other than his usual place of residence or workplace. The person should stay in a hotel or other commercial accommodation and uses sightseeing facilities. The reason and motivation for travel can be leisure, pilgrimage, study. Health, etc.

The following are not domestic tourists.

A person who arrives within the state to take up a job

A person who visits their home town during the holidays.

Who makes a short-visit to meet their relatives and families.

Foreigners Residents in India:

India has its own way to describe the meaning and definition of tourism. As per India, they considered International tourists as a person who holds a foreign passport. This implies that the Indian settled abroad and holding an Indian passport will not be considered as an International Tourist. They will not be considered as International tourists even if they come to India for various tourism-related activities. However, they will be considered Domestic Visitors. The categorization of tourists in India is based on Nationality rather than the place of residence. But as per the WTO definition, they should have been included in the list of International Tourists.

There have been taken a number of attempts to define tourism since the beginning of the 20th century. Different people define tourism in various ways. Therefore, to define tourism and to describe its scope, various groups and travelers that participate in the tourism-related industry must be considered.

Thus, Tourism Can Be Viewed from Four Perspectives; They Are:

The Tourist:

The tourist considers tourism as a factor that satisfies the physical and mental needs. The tourist’s satisfaction will depend on the choice of destinations and activities.

The Businesses-Providers:

The Business-Providers see tourism as a means to provide products and services to tourists. From business perspectives, they view tourism as an income by providing services to tourists.

Local Government:

The local government views tourism as an income for a country. Their views are related to the income from tourism that can be obtained by their employees.

Politicians consider the revenue of global tourism as tax receipts obtained or from tourist spending. The government plays a key role in tourism policy, growth, promotion, and implementation.

Host Community:

The host community sees tourism as a benefit in culture and employment. The interaction between the host and the visitor has become important. As a result, it provides a cultural exchange and income to the host community. This impact of tourism on the host community can be beneficial or harmful.

Tourism Also Includes Various Types of Visitors and Travelers. Namely:


A visitor is a person who makes a tour away from home. They can be a tourist or an excursionist. A tourist is a person who travels for more than 24 hours away from home,  whereas, an excursionist is a person who travels away from home but stays less than 24 hours. The reason and preferences of travel might differ from every visitor.

Again all visitors are subdivided into two categories:

Same-Day Visitors:

Same-day visitors are people a person who travels to a particular place and does not spend the night in a hotel.

Incentives Visitors:

These visitors are those who get a packaged holiday as a reward from his company for the good work he has done.

Health or medical visitors:

Travel for wellness has been gaining popularity. Many visitors traveled to seek special medical treatment. Reputed hospitals have attracted a large number of visitors.

Cultural Visitors:

These types of visitors travel to a destination to experience and learn the essence of other cultures. The visitors visit a cultural place that is un-know to them. The reason for travel can be for education, curiosity, etc.

Leisure Visitors:

This type of visitor travels during their leisure time. The main aim of the traveler is to rejuvenate and enjoy a break from the busy schedule.

Transit Visitors:

A transit visitor is a visitor who passes through a country/state without breaking the journey other than for taking connecting transport.


These groups of visitors are of a young age that travels with the minimum luggage and on a limited budget. These types of travelers are passionate and adventures.


A tourist is a short-term movement from the normal place of residence or workplace. The main motives are a short-term change from his everyday life. A traveler who stays more than 24 hours in a place is call tourists. Thus, a tourist is a person who stays at a particular place for more than one night.

There are many purposes for a visit. The reason for the visit can be a pleasure, business, etc. Therefore, Visitors have been classified based on their purpose. Namely:

The Characteristics of Tourists:

He takes up the journey of his own free will

He undertakes the journey in search of enjoyment

The money spent during the visit should be from home. He should not earn money from the place of visit.

He should return to his original starting point.

Different tourists have different travel motivation


A traveler is a person who travels from one place to another regardless of the purpose of the visit, length of stay and distance traveled. All tourists are travelers but all travelers and visitors are not a tourist.


Excursionist is a day traveler who stays at a place for less than 24 hours. They come back to his/her place of resident or workplace within 24 hours.

For example, a person visits a near-by place in the morning and comes back in the evening at his/her place of residence in the workplace.

Domestic Tourism:

Domestic tourism is a person who travels within the country. For example, a person takes a trip from Delhi to Mumbai for tourism-related activities.

We can see, the movement of Domestic tourism has increased over the years. With this increase in the movement of people, the government has realized its potential. As a result, many improvements in tourism facilities have been taken.

International Tourist:

An International tourist is a movement of people from one country to another country. A person crosses a national border through immigration checkpoints.

International tourists are of two types:

Inbound Tourist:

An inbound tourist is a person who travels from one country to another country. The person might travel to another country for various reasons. We can see an increase in inbound tourists every year.

Outbound Tourism:

An outbound tourist is a person who leaves his own country and visits another country. For example, a tourist traveling from India to the United State of America. A person leaves his/her country for various reasons. The reasons can be medical, rest, enjoyment, tourism-related activities, etc.

Travel Agency and Tourism

In tourism, the travel agency has come into the picture very recently. Nowadays, their roles and functions cannot be neglected. Due to their presence in the tourism industry, we can witness manifolds increase in travel.

Few Facts About Tourism:

The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world. It provides direct or indirect jobs. It is a large industry consisting of various sectors of all fields of the economy. The industry consists of various sub-sectors such as transport, hotel, and amusement, etc.

The tourism industries cannot be function alone. The combined effort of different industries is the result of tourism activities. Such industries are hotels, transports, amusements, etc.

The flow of global and domestic travel has increased every year. Now, travel agencies have realized the value of the tourism industry. As a result, they have recruited staff with significant travel and tourism knowledge.

Tourism has contributed to the local economy in many ways. It contributes 30% of world trade services and 6% of exports of goods and services. Global tourists have reached 1.035 billion in 2012, up from more than 996 million in 2011 and 952 million in 2010.

During the 2000s, due to the global recession and in 2008 due to the outbreak of H1N1 in 2009, the movement of global tourism has a slowdown. However, in 2011 and 2012, global tourism has picked up its growth.


In other words, we can describe tourism as mentioned below:

What is the Tourism Industry?

The meaning of “Tourism” does not only mean international travel for leisure or travel by airline, but the word tourism also has a wider scope in it, and it is a temporary short-term movement of people to destination outside a place where they normally live and work, indulging in different activities at the destination.

Tourism does not only include traveling to a destination but also includes all activities undertaken during the stay; a day visit and excursion are also included under the word of Tourism.

The tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world, it provides direct or indirect jobs to millions of people around the globe. The industry is made up of many sub-industries such as transport, hospitality, and entertainment.

Tourism is closely related to leisure and recreational activities. Both leisure and recreational have become a necessity for everyone to overcome the mounting stress and strain of modern life, a vast industry made up of various sectors related to all areas of the economy. The Industry cannot function in Isolation; the industry is an outcome of the combine efforts of different business and organization which provide tourism-related activities. Some of the Different business providers’ worth-mentioning are Hotels, airlines, and railways. The inflow of both International and Domestic is increasing each year, the travel and tourism companies have realized the potential of tourism and are now seeking to recruit graduates who possess essential knowledge of travel and tourism.

Tourist Market

The tourist market can be divided into the following two categories:

The leisure tourist and the business tourist.

Leisure tourists

leisure tourists do not travel for monetary benefit, they travel to seek rest and relaxation

Business Tourist

Business tourists are those types of travelers who travel for monetary benefits, but spend money on tourism related activities.

Who is a visitor?

A visitor is any person visiting a country other than his/her usual place of residents. Visitors might be engaged in different activities of tourism related services which include rest and relaxation.

Classification of Visitors

Visitors can be further be classified as a tourist or excursionist.


A tourist is a temporary visitor to a place from his/her usual resident or workplace to have a change from his/her usual routine for a short time, a tourist stay at a place overnight or more than 24 hours.


An excursionist is a day visitor who stays at a place for less than 24 hours or returns back to his/her place of residence or works place within 24 hours. Excursionists do not stay overnight. For example, a person visiting a nearby destination in the morning and return late in the evening at his/her place of residence or the workplace.

What is domestic tourism?

Domestic tourism involves a person traveling within a country or within the borders of a country. For example, a person traveling from Delhi to Mumbai for various reasons and activities. Domestic tourism has been increased over the years, now the government of India has realized the potential of domestic tourism and lots of improvement in tourism infrastructure has been taken. Indeed domestic tourism has become one of the backbones of our country’s economy.

What is International Tourism?

International tourism involves traveling from one country to another country, crossing international borders, or through immigration checkpoints. International tourist can be classified into two parts:

Inbound tourism and outbound tourism

Inbound Tourism

An Inbound tourist refers to incoming tourists or tourists entering a country. For example, An American tourist traveling to India can be called an inbound tourist. Inbound tourists can travel to a country for various reasons, the inbound tourist might engage in rest and relaxation, for business-related activities, for a medical check-up, educational purposes,  recreational activities, etc. Every year the number of inbound tourists has been increasing in India, India has now become one of the favorite places for Inbound Tourist.

Outbound tourism

Outbound tourist refers to outgoing tourist or a tourist leaving their country of origin. For example, a tourist traveling from India to America for various reasons.

Who is a traveler?

A traveler is a person who travels from one place to another irrespective of the purpose of visit, duration of stay, and distance traveled. All tourists are travelers but all travelers and visitors are not tourists.

What is hospitality?

Hospitality is one of the main constituents of tourism, it is concerned with providing necessary meals, places to sleep, and live, with a welcoming attitude within the defined levels of service for which the tourist has to pay. Hospitality provides psychological and physiological comfort to the guest.

What is the destination?

A destination is a place where tourist travels for leisure or business-related activities. The destination has played a major role in the success of travel and tourism, without destination it would be very difficult for the tourism industry to sustain because the destination is a place where tourist product is located and consumed. The image of the tourism industry depends upon the destination to a large extend, when the visitor has a positive perception towards the destination visited, they tend to perceive tourism industry as positive.

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