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Tourism Industry: Meaning, Structure and its Components

Kshitiz Thakur | New Delhi

Tourism is one of the fastest growing and perhaps the most far reaching industries globally. It is an industry which is driven not as much by the technology advancements but more by human needs. It is a very vast industry as it involves various types of tourism which in itself are huge in terms of value and certainly in terms their geographic reach; and because directly and indirectly it involves and affects many other industries sectors and many markets, countries and geographies.

How do you define tourism industry? What is tourism industry? Before that we should ask, what is Tourism and who is a Tourist? A tourist is the prime consumer of the tourism industry and in simple words a tourist is any individual who travels to some place, other than his or her home town, for a period of time. A tourist primarily travels to a place, stays there, visits some places and spends. Through all these activities a tourist spends money. So, tourism is the sum total of all the activities undertaken by a tourist. Thus, tourism means travel and it primarily involves people and spending. This is the basic view of tourism.

Tourism industry in itself has no proper definition or structure rather it is comprised of various other industries. It is the combined expenditure by people away from their usual places of residences on travel, stay, hotels, food, transportation, entertainment, visiting places, etc.

Tourism can be properly summed up in the definition from The World Tourism Organization as, "Tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to, and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes."

Therefore there are sectors which comprise tourism. These are the key sectors of tourism and are directly impacted by it. The key sectors involved in tourism industry are: Hotels, Restaurants, Bed & Breakfast, Lodges; Food and Retail sectors; and International, National and Local travel services.

Apart from these the other sectors or industries having impact from tourism include retail, taxi services, tour operators, consumer goods, entertainment. Tourism also affects the infrastructure and basic industries of any country including roads, automobiles, manufacturing, transportation services, telecommunication, technology, construction, oil & gas. In fact, this industry affects almost the whole industries and economy of any country, for the simple reason that any tourist consumes most of commodities and services which a local would use, but for a lesser period or in a lesser magnitude.

There are other significances of Tourism. It is a great contributor for a country towards developing and/or maintaining of better infrastructure and a better society. Any nation keen on attracting international tourism will strive to develop, maintain and provide basic infrastructure like better roads and transportation, better communication services and better civic services. It will also work towards developing technologies in industries and services and provide them to the end users.

Tourists from everywhere travel all over the world for various reasons, some for business, to attend events like exhibition, conference, meetings, trade fairs, etc.; some to see the historic or cultural importance of cities; to witness the natural gifts or seasonal beauties of a city; some visit for health, treatment or wellness; some travel for adventure while some for sports; and so on. Thus while the tourism activities remain more or less constant the objective and destination changes depending upon the travelling objectives and needs, leading travelers to specific places for specific reasons. This brings forth the second aspect of tourism, the types of tourism. Bearing the inherent nature of tourism sector as a whole, there are many segments of tourism which are formally defined, are distinguished and form part of tourism industry. Then there are more which are not that well defined or recognized, which may or may not form a part of the recognized segments.

Some recognized form or segments of tourism are Medical Tourism; Wellness Tourism; Adventure Tourism; Business Tourism; Leisure Tourism; Culinary Tourism; Cultural Tourism; Sports Tourism; Religious Tourism; Rural or Agri Tourism; Ghetto or Slum Tourism; Historical or Heritage Tourism; Nature or Wildlife Tourism.

Some other form of tourism can be Birth tourism; Extreme tourism; Geo-tourism; LGBT tourism; Nautical tourism; Pop-culture tourism; Sex tourism; Virtual tourism; War tourism; Gambling Tourism; Art Tourism; Film Tourism; and Cruise Tourism. Apart from these people also travel to different countries for Destination weddings or meeting with friends and families; for writing and photography; for study tours or political tours (Political Tourism)

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