Introduction to tourism

Defining tourism is not a simple matter, as it is a complex industry made up of many different businesses, the common theme being that they provide products and services to tourists/visitors.

Family sitting on grass at Trelissick Garden, Cornwall, England, UKAccording to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes. These people are called visitors. Generally speaking, a visitor is classified as a (same-)day visitor if their trip does not include an overnight stay and a tourist if it does include an overnight stay. The purpose of their trip can be for business, leisure or personal reasons, other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited.

If a trip’s main purpose is business/professional, it is often subdivided into two further categories - 'attending meetings, conferences or congresses, trade fairs and exhibitions' and 'other business and professional purposes'.

Types of tourism

There are three basic forms of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism.

Domestic tourism refers to activities of a visitor within their country of residence and outside of their home (e.g. a Brit visiting other parts of Britain).

Inbound tourism refers to the activities of a visitor from outside of country of residence (e.g. a Spaniard visiting Britain).

Outbound tourism refers to the activities of a resident visitor outside of their country of residence (e.g. a Brit visiting an overseas country).

The tourism industry in Britain is primarily a private sector industry, consisting of around 200,000 businesses, some very large including international hotel groups and airlines, as well as small and medium sized businesses, industry groups and bodies.

Domestic tourism is the core of businesses revenue (generally at least 80%, particularly outside of London), with demand peaking during the school holidays, particular Easter and Summer. Dealing with the demands of international visitors requires specialist knowledge, cultural understanding and investment.

Most UK statistics separate spending and volume of day visitors from overnight tourists. VisitBritain’s statistics and research reports focus on overseas visitors who come to Britain.

For domestic statistics (ie. data on people from within Britain who visit another location in Britain) get in touch with the tourism organisations for England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London