Technical definitions based on the purpose of travel, distance travelled, motivation duration of stay, the time element and specific situations of travel etc. have also been worked out for the purpose of particular tourism related studies and statistical measurements.
These definitions are of great significance and use to governments, tourism organizations and the providers of tourism services. But these studies have not included a systems approach.
Tourism typically and widely is studied by means of a number of processes with little or hardly any consensus on how the analysis of tourism should be endeavoured. The following are the different approaches that have been practiced.
1. Product Approach:
The product approach relates to the consideration of different tourism products involving the mode of production, marketing and consumption. For example, one might go into a hotel room or an airline seat or a rental car – how it is developed, how it is financed, how it is advertised, who are the people engaged in buying and selling it and so on.
Repeating the exercise for meals, and the multifarious tourist services will provide a detailed description of the field. However, the approach being too time consuming fails to deliver the basics of tourism instantly.
2. Institutional Approach:
This is the key approach to the study of tourism and mainly takes into consideration the various organizations/institutions and intermediaries such as tour operators and travel agencies associated with tourism activities.
The approach involves an examination of the organization, modus operandi, problems, costs and economic position of travel agents/tour operators who act as representative of the customer, investing in services delivered by airlines, hotels, rental car companies, and so on.
The approach becomes significant in the sense that a regular survey on select services like the one conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau every five years, helps in equipping a data base for further research.
3. Managerial Approach:
The approach being enterprise/firm oriented is basically microeconomic in nature. It concentrates on the management activities such as planning, research, pricing, marketing, control, etc. vital to the operation of a tourist establishment.
It is a simple truism that tourism environment is dynamic owing to continual changes in tourist products, organizations and social life styles.
Thereby it becomes imperative for the management objectives, philosophies and procedures to be adaptable to such changes. This approach maintains its weight in the modern tourism scenario as tourism has been characterized as an industry.
4. Geographical Approach:
The approach is relatively wider as well as popular because tourism has to do with geography at so many points namely location, climate, landscape, environment, and physical as well as economic impacts.
The geographer’s approach to tourism elucidates the location of tourist areas, the movement of people generated by tourist destinations, the changes in the landscape emerging from the provisioning of tourism facilities and amenities, putting to flight of tourism development, physical planning, and economico-socio-cultural difficulties.
Defert (1966), a French geographer, in an endeavor to bring out the significance of geography of tourism, puts forth the notions of espace distance, distinguishing usual/normal residence from the temporary one and of an espace milieu where tourists enjoy their holidaying.
The approach especially gains import because of its being so containing – considering land use, economic impacts, demographic aspects and cultural problems. Even a course title has been coined by geographers studying tourism in the form of Recreational Geography.
It is worth mentioning that these were the geographers who were mainly active in initiating the journals like Journal of Leisure Research and Leisure Sciences.
5. Sociological Approach:
Tourism tends to be a social activity being an interaction between different communities – hosts and guests – and encounter between different cultures. The approach studies social classes, habits and customs of both hosts and guests in terms of tourism behaviour of individuals and/or groups of people and the impact of tourism on society.
With the immense impact of growing tourism on society, the sociology of leisure, a developing discipline holds promise of progressing fast and being put to practice to a large extent.
6. Historical Approach:
As in the majority of social activities, tourism can be thoroughly perceived by making out the happenings and occurrences and studying changes in the tie-up between prime elements of the destination system over the years which worked round to present day position.
Such an understanding is of interest to policy makers generally interested in resolving opposing concerns in an agreeing and dynamic enterprising framework acknowledging tourism as one component of the several social and economic activities in an area.
Pearce (1980) identifies the following factors helpful in providing a comprehension of tourism development in its historical context for a specific area or region:
(i) The factors instrumental in the initiation of tourism to the destination/area
(ii) The order of happenings leading to tourism development
(iii) The reasons for happening of occurrences in that order
(iv) Beneficiaries of tourist activity
(v) An untimely and premature identification of negative effects
(vi) The affected interest groups bringing word about these.
7. Economic Approach:
Tourism promotion is ever-increasingly being perceived as a potent ingredient in the various developmental strategies. It has emerged to be the foundation of the environ pyramid in certain economics, while in most others it is contributing to a significant extent in the general development process as well as in the salvation of their basic problems.
At the same time, the operation of the tourism industry is not as simplistic as the term might seem to connote per se. Iris, rather, a complex of various inter-linked and inter-acting processes.
This multi-faceted nature of tourism makes it an intricate phenomenon, encompassing a whole gamut of issues, problems and challenges to be encountered both in the present and in the times to come.
The scope of tourism is quite large covering all providers of visitor and visitor-related services. It is the whole world of industry of travel, accommodation, catering and other hospitality services, transportation, entertainment, activity facilities, and all other components including promotion that meet, the wants and needs of travellers.
Tourism is, in fact, a synthesis of activities, services, and industries that gives forth a travel experience. From an economic perspective, it is the sum total of tourist expenditures within the bounds of a nation or a political subdivision or a transportation-centered economic area of adjoining states or nations.
Herman Von Schullard (1910), an Austrian economist defines tourism purely from an economic perspective as “the sum total of operations mainly of economic nature which directly relate to the entry, stay and the movement of foreigners inside and outside a certain country, city or region”.
However, it was Oglivie (1933) who endeavoured to define tourism from this stance in a systematic and scientific manner, and puts it as ‘all persons who satisfy two conditions, that they are away from home for any period of less than one year and second, that while they are away, they spend money in the place they visit without earning it there’.
Walter Hunziker and Kurt Krapf (1942) seek to filter out the essence of tourism as a human as well as economic activity in their General Theory of Tourism. Taking over the thread, Burkart and Medlik (1974) developed the approach further as ‘the totality of relationship and phenomena linked with the stay of foreigners in a locality provided they do not exercise a major, permanent or temporary remunerated activity’.
Nevertheless, Clive L. Morley (1990) terms Oglivie’s definition as incomplete and wanting by citing illustrations of medical patients, scientists doing field work, or even an invading army who would well fall within the definition but would hardly be admitted as tourists.
8. Interdisciplinary Approach:
Tourism takes in practically all aspects of society and attracts people from different strata with diverse economico-socio-cultural and educational backgrounds, thereby behaving in different ways and travelling for different purposes.
Thence, the use of a Psychological Approach in order to determine an outstanding course of action to promote and market tourism products not only becomes relevant but is, indeed, significant.
And since of the various types of tourism, cultural tourism has its own import, therefore, Anthropological Approach becomes necessary. Further, for international tourism, passport and visa formalities are to be met from government offices involving state/political policies and institutions, thus necessitating the use of Political Science Approach.
A Legal Approach also becomes crucial due to the fact that any industry affecting the life of quite a large number of people is sure to be governed by certain legislations, laws, regulations and legal environment.
Also, the growing significance of transportation in tourism development and promotion further calls for Passenger Transportation Approach. In fact, tourism is so multifaceted, vast and complex that it not only suggests but makes it imperative to have an interdisciplinary/integrative approach comprising a number of approaches with a view to accomplish different missions or objectives.
Jafar Jafari (1983) has attempted to bring forth a framework of interdisciplinary nature of tourism studies and their reciprocity and mutuality in his essay on “Anatomy of the Travel Industry”.