The tourist’s visit involves a mix of various elements such as travel, accommodation, transportation, attraction, excursions, facilities and so forth. These components, if combined, are perceived by the tour operator as ‘Tour Package’.
Practically, a tour package is a Total Tourism Product which is planned, organized, combined and sold as an ‘Inclusive Tour’ at a set price to tourists by tour operators.
Although, the origin of the modern concept of tour package is quite difficult to trace, yet it would be pertinent to adduce that the creation of transportation facilities in various countries thousands years ago but before the birth of Christ and the use of sea transport for travel by the British, Greece, Romans, Phoenicians and many more had a profound impact on the concept of a tour package.
Further, the well planned trips by Romans, Phoenicians, and Europeans for pilgrimage, adventure, pleasure, and navigation during different eras, must have been the motivational forces at the rear of the development of ‘Grand Tour Concept’. This concept paved the way for the development of tour package of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The term package tour was in use as early as 1600s. The first inclusive travel was organized by Thomas Bennett in 1821. In 1850, he set up a business as a ‘Tour Operator’ and developed first individual tourist itinerary and made other reservations such as rooms for accommodation.
But the concept of tour package was used for the first time in its distinguished sense by Thomas Cook in 1855. Mr. Cook was a man of vision who put together all ingredients of a tour package and sold it as an ‘Inclusive Tour’ to the tourists.
The inclusive tours inspired other travel/tourism entrepreneurs to organise and offer similar tours to other parts of tourist destinations. Mr. Cook also coined the concept of ‘Escorted Tour’ which is still in use.
Thus, the evolution of the concept of ‘Tour Package’ is mainly accredited to Thomas Cook for his imagination, innovation, idea and care he took in planning, organising and marketing his tours to minimise the problems.
Conceptually, to analyse the concept of tour package systematically is complex one rather to understand. According to Betsy Fay (1990) “A tour package is a combination of travel elements prepared for an individual/or a group traveler by a tour operator”. It means a package tour takes into consideration the requirements of travelers.
Holloway (1992) states that “A tour package is a total tourism product as it generally consists of transport from the generating area to the destination, accommodation at the destination and possibly some other recreational or business tourist services”.
This definition helps to identify the components of total tourism product. Gregory (1985) points out that “a tour package is advertised journey including specific features, arranged and promoted with tour literature by a tour operator and paid for in full by the tourists before starting on the tour”.
The American College Dictionary (1995) defines a tour package as “travel from place to place, a long journey including the visiting of a number of places in sequence”. The above definitions reveal how broad is the concept of tour package to be defined in order to embrace all forms of tour ingredients.
Therefore, given these differing perspectives, it is rather impossible to have one definition of the tour package which can satisfy all positions in the travel industry. So, conceptually, an attempt has been made to define ‘Tour Package’ in a broader sense.
A tour package is a total tourism product planned and operated for either independent travelers or for groups to one destination or multi-destinations consisting of air travel and land arrangement segments for number of days as specified, with a set of features (intangible and tangible) and for a set price.
This definition clearly points out the methodology for identification of tour package components and their attributes in terms of both supply and demand.