Tourism is one of the most flourishing industries in the world, making a significant contribution to the world's GDP. Every year, millions of people from across the globe travel miles and miles away from their homes, in order to see the distant lands and experience their culture. The tourism industry exists in some form or the other in every part of the world, and tourists are seen traveling to some of the seemingly most inaccessible places. The tourism infrastructure has also developed to a great extent over the years, thus, making it possible to reach and explore the difficult parts of the world. According to the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism (AIEST)
, tourism comprises three distinct elements, viz.,
- Involvement in travel of non-residents,
- Stay of temporary nature in the area visited, and
- Stay not connected with any activity involving earnings.
AIEST's definition makes the meaning of the term clear; however, the aim of carrying out a particular tourism activity is also of considerable importance. Broadly, based on the aim, tourism can be divided into two categories―educational and leisure. Nevertheless, the line of distinction between the two seems to go on diminishing when a visit to an unknown place makes a person learn and enjoy, both at the same time.
The 9/11 EffectJihadi tourism
is a new concept developed as an aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. It refers to traveling to foreign countries with the aim of acquiring terrorist training and/or participating in terrorist activities.
No matter what your aim is, traveling to distant places always tends to fascinate. Tourism, as a concept, has come a long way today, and the activity has been classified into various types (and still counting). With the development of new tourist infrastructure, and owing to the extreme competition in the sector, several new ideas of promoting tourism are coming up. The tourism sector today aims to cater to the needs and preferences of all types of tourists, and thus, seems to take into consideration specific areas of their interest. Therefore, today we have a plethora of tourism types and innumerable options to choose from. The different categories of tourism are as under:
Famous Destinations: Nepal for mountaineering, Croatia for rock climbing and mountain biking, New Zealand for skiing and snowboarding, etc.
Also known as adventure travel
, this kind of tourism is becoming very famous amongst adventure seekers, who are always in the quest of something new to satisfy their adrenaline rush. Adventure tourism requires that a tourist has the heart to take risks and possesses special training and skills. Generally, adventure tourists indulge in difficult activities and extreme sports, such as mountaineering, desert hiking, bungee jumping, scuba diving, paragliding, zip lining, rock climbing, and so on.
Most Visited Countries: USA, UK, Canada, etc.
Birthright citizenship is the
thing that is sought by people indulging in birth tourism
. This kind of tourism involves traveling from one country to another, in order to give birth to a child so that the child automatically becomes a citizen of the destination country. While the practice seems a little far-fetched, it is common in countries with economic, social, and political instability. Wealthy circles in poorer/underdeveloped countries are also often seen indulging in this kind of tourism so that their offspring become citizens of developed nations, and thereby, gain all the benefits.
Quick Fact: Generally, a business tourist is considered to be wealthier than a leisure tourist, and is believed to have much more purchasing power.
The World Tourism Organization (WTO) gives a definition of tourism that is in contrast to the one given by the AIEST. While the AIEST does not involve people connected with any sort of activity involving income, the WTO thinks otherwise. According to them, "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." Common activities involved in business tourism
include attending meetings, conferences, and seminars, visiting exhibitions and trade fairs, and so on.
Famous Destinations: France, Italy, Mexico, etc.Culinary tourism
or food tourism
involves tasting and experiencing the local and traditional food of a particular country, region, or city/town/village. It is worth noting that though food alongside accommodation and infrastructure is one of the key components of tourism, there are numerous tours organized just for the sake of experiencing the culinary culture. Today, with the overall growth of tourism sector, this subset has also expanded and developed to a great extent. Culinary tourism also includes enotourism
, a.k.a. wine tourism
, wherein people visit certain regions (such as the Napa Valley, California, USA, and Catalonia, Spain) specializing in winemaking, in order to enjoy the exotic wines.
Famous Sites: The Louvre, Paris, France; Colosseum, Rome, Italy; the Taj Mahal, Agra, India, etc.
Also known as culture tourism
, this kind of tourism involves the culture of a particular country or region. The concept of cultural tourism encompasses things, such as history of a given region, the lifestyle of people in a particular geographical locale, architecture, oral traditions, religions, festivals, cuisine, and so on. Activities of cultural tourism in the urban areas may involve visiting museums, theaters, art galleries, and so on; those in the rural areas may involve visiting indigenous cultural communities and having an insight into their traditions, lifestyle, and values. It also involves pop-culture tourism
as one of its major subsets, which includes traveling to places, appearing in literary works, TV series, and cinema.
Famous Sites: Auschwitz concentration camp, Auschwitz, Germany; Ground Zero, New York, USA; Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, etc.
This kind of tourism is also referred to as grief tourism
, black tourism
, and thanatourism
, and involves visiting those places and sites, which have been witnesses to some of the major tragedies in history. Apart from their tragic histories of human suffering and bloodshed, most of these locations are also popular for their historical value. The curious human mind is often more attracted to places that are associated with things far from normal, and hence, sites bearing violent pasts have become popular tourist destinations, receiving a large inflow of visitors year after year.
Famous Instances: After the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano, Iceland; after Hurricane Katrina, 2005, New Orleans, USA; after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, 2011, Fukushima, Japan, etc.
Often criticized as an unethical form of tourism, people are said to be involved in disaster tourism
when, out of curiosity, they visit places that have just encountered a major disaster. Such visits may adversely affect the rescue operations on such sites, and also hurt the sentiments of the local people. However, in the wake of several serious calamities, disaster tourism does gain an impetus with more and more tour operators offering attractive packages to such affected areas.
Famous Sites: Amalia Glacier, South Patagonia, Chile; Mount Kilimanjaro, Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania; Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India, etc.
Also known by the names like last chance tourism
and tourism of doom
, this is an emerging trend in the global tourism sector. First identified in 2007, it refers to touring those places/sites/regions, which are under some kind of an environmental and/or human threat. The basic aim of doom tourism is to urge people to visit the threatened sites before they are lost forever, which is why the concept is gaining popularity by the day. However, according to some critics, the growth of doom tourism may, in fact, speed up the deterioration process of the already-threatened sites.
Famous Destinations: Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Rif Mountains, Morocco; Nimbin, New South Wales, Australia, etc.
Going to distant places for the purpose of buying and consuming drugs and narcotics, which are illegal and illegitimate in one's own country/territory, amounts to drug tourism
. Not surprisingly, this kind of tourism involves a lot of legal implications and constraints, and people found carrying illegal drugs can often be prosecuted for drug smuggling. Nevertheless, there are some regions in the world which are famous for their legal drug culture, and hence, thousands of tourists flock to these places in order to acquire forbidden substances.
Famous Destinations: Palau, Micronesia; Norwegian fjords (different locations), Norway; Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, etc.Ecotourism
is a very broad category of tourism that involves a socially responsible travel to virtually undisturbed and pristine areas of natural beauty. It involves traveling to places, the primary attractions of which are flora and fauna, natural and/or artificial landforms, and settlements of indigenous communities. Ecotourism also encompasses the concepts of geotourism
and wildlife tourism
. Moreover, agritourism
has been added to the list of subtypes of ecotourism, which involves visiting a farm or ranch, and indulging in agriculture-related activities.
Most Visited Countries: Romania, Ireland, Germany, etc.
This is a very interesting form of tourism in which tourists travel to the land(s) of their ancestors in quest of their roots. While genealogy tourism
has captured a substantial market all across the world, it seems to be more prominent in various diasporic communities the world over. Every year, several people, especially those belonging to the emigrated populations, go to countries of their origin and seek to reconnect with their pasts.
Famous Destinations: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Prague, Czech Republic; Brighton, England, etc.
Also known as gay tourism
, this niche focuses mainly on the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population. Even amidst innumerable criticisms, several tourism agencies have realized the potential of the LGBT population to generate money in tourism sector, and hence, the so-called "pink pound/pink dollar" is being targeted. Owing to this, several destinations have also been developed to cater specially to the LGBT tourists.
Famous Destinations: United Arab Emirates, Turks and Caicos Islands, Turkey, etc.
The term medical tourism
constitutes the travel of patients from one place to the other in order to acquire proper medical care and treatment. Common treatments that patients indulging in medical tourism seek include treatments for certain genetic disorders and specialized surgeries such as joint replacement, cosmetic surgeries, and so on. Some people also travel to seek psychiatric and alternative healing treatments. Suicide tourism
is a subset of medical tourism in which patients suffering from incurable ailments travel to other nations where euthanasia is legal.
Famous Spots: Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, USA; Costa Brava, Spain; Sicily, Italy, etc.Nautical tourism
is a comparatively newer niche of tourism that focuses on combining holiday activities with boating/sailing. The concept was first developed in Europe and South America, but has now gained impetus even in the Pacific Rim and the United States. Tourists not only prefer to sail to their destination, rather than fly, but also indulge in various activities, such as fishing and snorkeling while on the ship. Moreover, many of them also prefer to stay in their sailing vessels, instead of taking other terrestrial accommodations, even on ports. Resultantly, nautical tourism is also proving to be profitable, in that the demand for various nautical goods and services have also increased.
Famous Sites: Varanasi, India; Jerusalem, Israel; Mecca, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Often referred to as faith tourism
, this is a type of tourism where people embark on long journeys, either individually or in groups, for the purpose of pilgrimage or for carrying out missionary activities. Numerous holy places around the world have been developed into thriving tourist centers, and each year, these receive an overwhelming influx of tourists. Places such as temples, churches, mosques, or landforms with religious significance are some of the most visited sites by the religious tourists, who claim to seek oneness with the God through such journeys.
Famous Destinations: Thailand, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, etc.Sex tourism
refers to a kind of travel in which people travel to distant places to indulge in sexual activities. Generally, this kind of tourism involves traveling to those places/countries, wherein either prostitution is legal or the law enforcement agencies are indifferent. However, there are several ethical and human rights issues involved in sex tourism, especially pertaining to non-consensual sex and child prostitution. Nevertheless, this is one of the most thriving niches of the world tourism industry.
Famous Sites: Hutongs, Beijing, China; Dharavi, Mumbai, India; Five Points, New York, USA, etc.
In the 19th century, the concept of slum tourism
developed as a niche in which people were encouraged to visit the impoverished areas of the city/town so that the people dwelling in those areas could get opportunities to sustain their families. Initially, slum tourism focused on the slums of Manhattan and London, but later on, the concept became popular in the rest of the world as well. Slum tourism is now promoted as an opportunity for tourists to see and experience the local culture, at the grassroots level. The niche is growing really fast in some of the poor and developing countries.
Space Tourists: Dennis Tito, USA (8 days); Anousheh Ansari, Iran (12 days); Guy Laliberté, Canada (11 days).Space tourism
is another newly developed concept in the tourism sector. It involves traveling to space for recreational or business purposes. A number of startup companies offer space tours to a limited number of tourists each year, but the concept is still in its developmental phase. Right from its inception, space tourism has been subject to a large number of criticisms owing to its high costs, and also the various legal constraints. However, there have been a number of such missions, which have been successful.
Famous Destinations: Brazil, India, England, etc.Sports tourism
, as the name suggests, involves sport(s) and the excitement and enjoyment it offers, as its basis. It can be either active or passive in nature, which means that one can either travel to another place in order to participate in a sport, or just to watch it being played. Numerous sports, such as cricket, football, tennis, etc., have gained worldwide popularity today, and we see a large number of tours organized at times of major tournaments, which enable people to watch these games live in the stadiums. This niche of tourism generates a good amount of income each year.
Quick Fact: A virtual tourist can see places, not only as they are today, but also how they were at different points in history, something that a "true" tourist cannot do.Virtual tourism
is also a pretty recent niche of tourism that seems to completely defy the very purpose of tourism. It refers to "experience" travel in an electronic environment, thus, nullifying the mobility aspect of tourism. A virtual tourist visits places through technologies, such as the Internet, thus, limiting or, in some cases, even nullifying the aspects of time, distance, and cost. Though the niche is developing steadily, virtual tourism can never replace "true" tourism. On the contrary, it may encourage people to physically travel to places that they have seen in a virtual environment.
Famous Sites: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan; Kurukshetra, Haryana, India; National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas, USA, etc.War tourism
, military tourism
, or militarism heritage tourism
refers to the kind of tourism wherein people visit former military sites, war zones, or facilities such as museums that exhibit artifacts pertaining to military history. A subset of war tourism is atomic tourism
wherein guided tours are provided to visitors at sites on which atomic weapons were tested.
Famous Destinations: China, Jordan, Cayman Islands, etc.Wellness tourism
is a fast-growing trend in the tourism sector that refers to traveling for the purpose of maintaining and enhancing one's body, mind, and soul. This kind of tourism involves wellness solutions, such as massages, body treatments, weight loss programs, beauty treatments, and so on. Owing to the popularity of the trend, several destination spas have come up at various places, which offer numerous facilities for tourists according to their likes and preferences.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there is also something known as experimental tourism
, which involves engaging in tourism activities with an entirely different approach or leaving everything to chance. Developed by writer Joel Henry, the concept has not gained formal recognition yet.
No matter where you travel, with what aim, and for how long, it is extremely vital that you take a sustainable approach. See to it that your visit does not adversely affect the environment and local culture in any way, and that the integrity of the place is maintained as far as possible.