The earliest genuine citation of the term appears to be in the Anecdotes of English Languages by Pegge sometimes around 1800 AD. Later, Stendahl (1828) in his Les memories dun Touriste (the memories of a tourist) used it in a more definitive sense, while according to Dictionaire Universal, the term dates back to the year 1876, which characterizes a tourist as a person who makes a journey for the sake of curiosity, for the fun of travelling, or just to tell others that he has travelled (travel snobbery). However, the word tourist in its present sense is of very recent origin.
According to Chamber’s Encyclopedia, When the word ‘tourist’ first became current, early in the 19th century, it was often used contemptuously and in the 20th century a tourist is usually thought of as a holiday-maker, ‘tripper’ or other traveller for pleasures.
But ‘tourist trade’, ‘tourist traffic’ and latterly ‘tourism’ became widely accepted as terms to describe a kind of travel which has two chief characteristics: that the travellers concerned mean to return home after a comparatively short time, and that the money they spend abroad is money derived from home, not money earned in the places visited.
Tourists are thus distinguished from permanent emigrants or immigrants and from seasonal or other workers who move to do paid work. So regarded, tourist are not only holiday-makers but religious pilgrims, business visitors, invalids in search of health, diplomats, students—all travellers who, meaning to return, travel in the capacity of consumers rather than producers.
That is, in the 19th century when the word tourist started gaining currency, it was much used in the sense of a feeling of contempt and even during early 20th century there was hardly any consensus on the interpretation of the precept of tourist. In this context, one of the earliest definitions was offered by Ogilvie (1933) in his classic work Tourist Movement.
According to him, “tourists are persons who satisfy two conditions: One, they are away from home for any period less than a year and two, while they are away, they spend in the place they visit, without earning there”.
Taking over the thread, Lambert put forward almost a uniform definition but for having to do with the economic aspect. He believes that “a tourist is the person who (i) takes up his journey on his own free will, (ii) takes up journey primarily in search of enjoyment and, (iii) finally returns to his original starting point”.
While Norval (1936) defines a tourist as “one who enters a foreign country for whatever purpose other than for permanent residence, or regular business across the border and who spends in the country of temporary stay, money which has been earned elsewhere”.
From these and a multitude of other expositions, the statistical committee of League of Nations in 1936 defined ‘tourist’ which eventually served as the basis for the definition coined by International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO) in the coming years. In the light of the IUOTO recommendations in its report dated 22nd January, 1937, the definition of ‘tourist’ goes as under:
“The term tourist shall in principle be interpreted to mean any person travelling for a period of 24 hours or more in country other than in which be usually resides”. As per this interpretation, following persons were to be regarded as tourists:
(a) Persons travelling for pleasure, for domestic reasons, for health etc.
(b) Persons travelling for meetings or in representative capacity of any kind (scientific, diplomatic, administrative, religious, athletics etc.)
(c) Persons travelling for business purpose.
(d) Persons arriving in the course of sea cruise, even when they stay for less than 24 hours.
The last mentioned should be considered as an independent group brushing aside, if necessary, the condition in respect of usual place of residence. However, as per recommendations, the persons belonging to following categories were not to be deemed as tourists:
(i) Persons arriving with or without a contract to take up an occupation or engage in any business activity in the country.
(ii) Students and young persons in boarding establishments of schools.
(iii) Residents in a frontier zone and persons domiciled in one country and working in an adjoining country.
(iv) Travellers passing through a country without stopping even if the journey takes more than 24 hours.
The United Nations confirmed the foregoing definition with a light suggestion relating to period of stay i.e., the maximum duration of stay in the destination country should not exceed six months.
Again, a permanent IUOTO Research Commission was set up in 1950 which came up with certain recommendations as amendments to be incorporated in the definition.
These included, on the one hand, that a person staying for more than 12 months in a foreign country should be treated as an immigrant and not a tourist while students and young persons in boarding establishments should also be considered as tourists, on the other.
Yet again, in February 1957 the Research Commission at its meeting in London propagated that ‘Excursionists’ and ‘Transit Travellers’ should not be looked upon as tourists. Further, in a later meeting held at Malta, the commission suggested that the term ‘tourist’ be substituted by the term ‘visitor’.
Lickorish (1970), the well-known tourism scholar proposed that all persons staying for more than 12 months and less than 24 hours, should be excluded from the definition of tourist and that the latter should be called ‘excursionist’ and ‘transit visitors’ as defined below:
Persons travelling for pleasure for a period of less than 24 hours in a country other than that he resides in and not undertaking any gainful occupation there.
Transit visitor (Transient):
Persons travelling in a country even if for a period of more than 24 hours, without stopping; or any person travelling in a country during a period of less than 24 hours provided that any stops made by him are of short duration and for other than tourist purposes.
The UN Conference on International Travel and Tourism held at Rome in 1963 developed an amended definition after a thorough critical scrutiny and study of the aforesaid proposed changes and modifications.
The conference worked over a long- range definition of the term ‘visitor’ and observed that for statistical purposes the expression visitor specifies any person visiting a country other than that in which he / she has his/her usual place of residence, for any reason other than being interested in an occupation remunerated from within the country visited. This definition includes:
Tourist i.e., Temporary visitor staying at least 24 hours in the country visited and the purpose of whose journey can be classified under one of the following heads:
(a) Leisure (recreation, holiday, health, study, religion and sport)
(b) Business, family, mission, meeting.
Excursionist i.e., temporary visitors staying less than 24 hours in the country visited (including travellers on cruises).
It rules out travellers who, in the legal sense, do not enter the country (i.e., air travellers who do not leave an airport’s transit area).
This definition steadily and progressively received a widespread acceptance and at the moment practically a majority of the countries, conform to it ideally, and practice it for statistical purposes with minor changes here and there.
To illustrate, Britain defines a tourist as a visitor staying for more than 24 hours but less than 12 months, and not 9 months, which is the upper limit imposed by most countries; U.S.A. counts all non-immigrant stopover visitors and does not place any limit in terms of stay. India also adheres to the lower limit of 24 hours but no upper limit relating to period of stay. Bahamas like India also includes cruise passengers in its tourist statistics. Nevertheless, there is a worldwide consensus on the specified conditions:
(i) Specified motives the tourist must have the spelled out objects as deliberated above;
(ii) Minimum stay limit his minimum stay should not be less than 24 hours;
(iii) No remunerative activity he should not earn at the destination; and
(iv) No immigration intents his purpose should not be immigration.
This definition covers two classes of visitors “International tourist” and “International excursionist”. Terminology concerning this differentiation was examined in 1967 by an ‘Export Statistical Group’ operative under the United Nations Statistical Commission.
The committee recommended that the distinction be made between tourists, who stayed overnight, and day visitors or excursionists, who did not. The United
Nations Statistical Commission convened an International Conference in 1976 taking in representatives of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the Conference of European Statisticians, the East Caribbean Common Market, and the Caribbean Community.
The details of guidelines were published by WTO in 1981 in the ‘Technical Handbook on the collection and presentation of Domestic and International Tourism Statistics’. The official classification of travellers classified by WTO and Chadwick even now makes a distinction between tourist and traveller respectively.
Being aware of the fact that the development of statistical concept and framework for tourism have not been able to keep pace with the changes in nature and significance of tourism worldwide, WTO again organized an International Conference on Travel and Tourism Statistics at Ottawa, Canada in June, 1991 in order to address various issues respecting tourism statistics.
The recommendations of the Ottawa Conference were further debated in regional seminars and a set of Concepts and Definitions on Tourism, Types of Tourism, Traveller (both International and Domestic), Usual Residence, Resident (in a country, in a place), Non-resident, Nationality, Visitor (International and Domestic), International Tourist, and International Same Day Visitor or Excursionist etc. were distinctly defined. The United Nations Statistical Commission duly considered these and approved the same in its 27th session held from 22 February to 3 March, 1993.
In the context of definition of Tourism, the significant aspect deliberated was the ‘usual environment’. The expression ‘usual environment’ is meant to leave out trips within the place of residence, trips to the usual place of work or education, and day- to-day shopping and other local routine activities.
Another point of view explained at length relates to the time factor, that is, inclusion of maximum duration of stay of twelve months is purposed to rule out long time migration or even immigration. Yet another aspect of consideration concerns the general agreed upon distance to make good one’s escape from the usual place of environment, which is fixed around 80 kms.
The National Tourism Resource Review Commission, USA (1973), Statistics Canada and Tourism Canada advocated that the term tourist refers to a person who travels away from home at least 80 kms one-way for any purpose other than to commute to work, without reference to the duration of the trip.
However, the US Travel Data Centre and the US Bureau of Census define a visitor as anyone who travels at least 160 kms one-way away from home except for purposes of commuting to work, no matter what is the period of stay. On the other hand, Australian Bureau of Industry Economics sets restrictions in terms of distance on its definition of a tourist:
A person visiting a location at least 40 kms from his usual place of residence, for a period of at least 24 hours and not exceeding twelve months.