I expect that most people reading this article would have heard of tourism before and think they know exactly what it is. I must confess, I thought I did too, until I found out that the goal posts had been moved without my knowledge. Turns out I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did, and I strongly suspect you could be in the same boat too.
Speaking of boats, were you aware that there was such a thing as Nautical tourism? I didn’t know about it either until quite recently, but it does exist. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who “travel to, and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty four (24) hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”. A Nautical tourist then, is someone who not only makes their tour by boat, but also spends the majority of their vacation time aboard the vessel itself. Doesn’t sound like much fun to me but I guess the size of that boat makes a difference. Think canoes and cruise ships, different strokes for different folks. There is a raft (no pun intended) of different types of tourism floating around out there as you will sea……I mean see.
When people think of tourism, places like Aruba and Jamaica come to mind, with their beautiful beaches and year round sunshine. Normally one wouldn’t associate medicine with tourism but there is such a thing as Medical tourism, or Health tourism as it is otherwise called. This is the practice of traveling across international borders to access health care. Practically every type of health care service is available, including alternative treatments, elective procedures, and complex, specialized surgery such as heart and dental surgery. I’m not sure I’d consider myself a tourist though if I had to spend my vacation in another country under a surgeon’s knife!
A not so uncommon form of tourism is Religious tourism, which also goes by the name Faith tourism. This is where people of faith travel individually, or in groups, for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes. One such example would be a group traveling to Bethlehem to see the birthplace of Jesus. Though Palestine features prominently in the Christian bible too, some may not think it a good idea to visit there just now due to the seemingly never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
As the name suggests, Wildlife tourism has to do with wildlife. Here people go to see wildlife in their captive habitat or wild environments. So you could go on a safari to see lions and elephants running around in some jungle and get all excited at being able to see them up close and personal. It is advisable though that you not go on these adventures alone but with a guide and in a group. It would seem the lions have not yet gotten the memo, which speaks to “no free lunches”.
Another form of tourism, which is way out there, is one that is called Space tourism. This form of tourism was pioneered by Russia and involves tourists paying for flights into outer space. Space tourism is not for everyone as the costs are as great as the distances covered. Prices are touted to be in the 20-35 million dollar regions.
Among the Tourism lot is one which would appear to be a misnomer, Agritourism. This is a form of tourism that takes place on a farm or ranch. Here tourists engage in farm activities ranging from feeding animals, to picking fruit, to planting crops. If I were a tourist though and on vacation would I jump at a chance to help with farming and ranching tasks during the visit? Farmwork….. on my vacation? Agritourism is considered to be a niche or uniquely adapted form of tourism and is often practiced in wine growing regions such as in Spain, North America, and Italy.
Also on the list is Ecological tourism or Ecotourism as it is sometimes called. Ecotourism appeals to socially and ecologically conscious individuals. Generally speaking, it focuses on volunteering, personal growth and learning new ways to live on our planet earth. It typically involves travel to destinations where fauna, flora, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions. It helps to educate the traveler; directly benefits the economic development and political empowerment of local communities; provides funds for conservation; and fosters respect for different cultures and for human rights. Ecotourists will travel to fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strive to be low impact and (often) small scale.
Other Forms of Tourism
The foregoing list is by no means exhaustive and a few others from this long tourism list are Geotourism, Winter tourism, Swamp tourism, Bookstore tourism, Sports tourism, Adventure tourism, Archaeological tourism, Sex tourism, and Birdwatching tourism. What will they think of next? I suppose if enough tourists exist a niche market will be developed to accommodate them. In 1980 the United Nations World Tourism Organization designated September 27th World Tourism Day and it has been recognized annually ever since. Every dog has its day as they say, so why not tourism?