Of the various attempts towards defining tourism, one of the earliest was by Professors Hunziker and Krapf of Berne University in 1942. They maintain that from the conceptual viewpoint, tourism should be defined as “the sum of the phenomena and relationships arising from the travel ands stay of non-residents, in so far as they do not lead to permanent residence and are not connected with any earning activity”.
Obviously, the definition rests on the assumption that it ought to incorporate both travel and stay, thus excluding day tours/excursions. While on the one hand, the proposition that tourism should not lead to permanent residence in the country/area of destination visited categorizes tourism as different from migration, it seems to rule out business travel on the count that the activity is not expected to be related to any earning opportunity, on the other. Nevertheless, it becomes quite hard to make a distinction between business and pleasure travel as more often the business trips combine the two activities.
The definition by Hunziker and Krapf was later accepted and adopted by the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism (A1EST). However thereafter the concept was broadened through the inclusion of various forms of business and vocational travel by the International Union of Official Travel Organisations (IUOTO).
The reformulated definition summarizes far-reaching notional framework which besides diagnosing the intrinsic and inherent characteristics of tourism, tells the difference from similar, related but different phenomenon.
Again, in the second quarter of the twentieth century, 1937, League of Nations proposed a definition of the tourist as “one who travels for a period of 24 hours or more in a country other than that in which he usually resides”.
This definition took into consideration the purpose of visit and was supposed to include individuals travelling for pleasure, domestic reasons/health, business, meetings and conferences, and persons visiting a country on a cruise vessel (even if for less than 24 hours).
The major limitation of the definition is in terms of neglect of movement of people within the country/area of origin i.e., domestic tourists. Taking over the thread, the International Union of Official Tour Operators (IUOTO), now the World Tourism Organization (WTO) gave certain recommendations in this context in the United Nations Conference on International Travel and Tourism, held at Rome in 1963.
In the conference, it was conceded to introduce the term ‘visitor’ to describe ‘any person visiting a country other than that in which he has his usual place of residence, for any reason other than following an occupation, remunerated from within the country visited’. This definition was held to include two genera of visitors:
(a) Tourists, categorized as temporary visitors staying at least 24 hours with a purpose classified as leisure (recreation, sport, holiday, health, study or religion), or business, family, mission or meeting;
(b) Excursionists, classified as temporary visitors staying less than 24 hours, including cruise travellers but excluding travellers in transit.
The introduction of ‘study’ as a purpose in the definition was a very thought-provoking development but it is generally excluded in later definitions. However, the definition, once again turned out to be unduly confined in the sense that it failed to make any allowance for domestic tourism.
A study group of the proposed institute of tourism in Britain now christened as Tourism Society, tried to interpret the concept of tourism in 1976 as ‘Tourism is the temporary short-term movement of people to destinations outside the places where they normally live and work, and activities during their stay at these destinations: it includes movement for all purposes, as well as day visits or excursions’. The definition was further worked out while retaining its naivety at the International Conference on Leisure—Recreation—Tourism held at Cardiff in 1981, organized by A1EST and the Tourism Society.
According to the reformulated version ‘Tourism may be defined in terms of particular activities selected by choice and undertaken outside the home environment. It may or may not involve overnight stays away from home’.
No doubt, the above definitions have been referred to and talked about at length because of the feature that tourism ought to be defined to subsume all forms of the phenomenon; the decisive version of the definition does attract a question mark in the absence of a proper qualification of the activities to be incorporated in tourism.
Going with the proposition ‘particular activities selected by choice’ in the definition without proper specification may entail involvement of certain undesirable and uncalled for activities such as burglary, eve-teasing, prostitution, and many others of the type.
Moreover, there is no mention of the minimum distance travelled from the home base (origin) so as to term the traveller a tourist. Further, the second part of the definition ‘activities undertaken outside the home environment’ does not seem to be that relevant especially in the contemporary world of tourism in terms of the notions of second home ownership and time-sharing accommodation where the visitor spends substantial periods of time away from their prime/first home but is hardly in a different environment than the one at home.
It exemplifies the elaborate guidelines and directions produced by the WTO to classify travellers for statistical purposes. For all that, certain openings still persist in the definition. For instance, in view of the social effects of tourism, the attempts to categorize tourists as those travelling for purposes other than employment can be illusive.
There is every likelihood that people may have been motivated to visit an area not because of livelihood or employment but primarily because of the area’s appeal to tourists and/or the interest of the leisure facilities offered.
Also, there is a growing tendency to leave for or retire abroad owing to the lower costs of living therein while holding on to first home in native country of origin. The inherent motivation once again may not be simply the economic criterion but the forces like enjoyment of climate and other facilities having a magnetic pull for the tourists to the area.
Tourism is an activity of multidimensional, multifaceted nature involving many lives and assorted economic activities. In other words, it can be regarded as a whole range of individuals (hosts and guests), businesses, organizations and places (destinations) put together in some characteristic manner to produce a travel experience.
Tourism, therefore, has proved to be difficult to define. To some extent, this is an observation on the byzantine nature of tourism besides being symptomatic of its rawness and immaturity as a field of study.
Though various attempts have been there to define tourism but only to provide for particular needs and situations. But Why Tourism? How Tourism?, Tourism for What?, Tourism for Whom? Are some of the pertinent issues that have hardly been addressed?
However, Mathieson and Wall (1982) have tried to define tourism, not in an absolute technical sense yet it does communicate the basic nature of tourism both in the contexts of demand- and supply-aspects as ‘the temporary movement to destinations outside the normal home and workplace, the activities undertaken during the stay and the facilities created to cater for the needs of tourists’. The main elements of the definition are:
(i) Tourism comes into being out of a movement of people to, and their stay in various destinations.
(ii) Tourism comprises of two essential factors: One, the travel to the destinations and two, the stay (including activities) at the destination.
(iii) The travel and stay occur outside the typical place of domicile and work implying that tourism results in activities different from those of the resident and working populations of the places through and in which people travel and stay.
(iv) The movement to destinations is of temporary nature and short-term in character i.e. it is distinct from migration as the aim to all intents and purposes is to be backing home within a short span of time – a few days, weeks or months.
(v) The purposes of the visit to the destinations can be any except seeking permanent residence or employment.
Being conscious of the fact that the developments in the tourism framework and the statistical concept have failed to keep up with the changes in the nature and significance of tourism at the global level, as well as to focus on various issues concerning tourism statistics, WTO organized yet another International Conference on Travel and Tourism Statistics at Ottawa, Canada in June, 1991.
The recommendations and a set of concepts and definitions of tourism were discussed and endorsed in the twenty seventh session of the United Nations Statistical Commission held in February/March. 1993.
The significant feature accounted for in respect of definition of tourism was in terms of usual environment implying exclusion of travel within the normal place of residence (first home), work, daily shopping, other local and routine activities, and education.
Second, the inclusion of time factor i.e., twelve month’s duration is purposed to rule out long-term migration.
Third, the general agreement over the distance travelled from the usual place of environment was fixed around 80 Km. Nevertheless, the issue of distance travelled one-way away from home is open to debate as it is variable ranging from 40- 160 Km in different countries and agreed upon by different organizations on different counts.
Thus, defining tourism technically for a specific purpose is relatively less problematic while defining it conceptually in a precise manner is somewhat complex, if not impossible. Holloway (1992) tries to define a tourist, in the context of twentieth century mass tourism, as ‘someone who travels to see something different, and then complains when he finds things are not he same’!