The boom years of mass tourism began well after the end of the Second World War. The introduction of the five-day, 40-hour working week and paid holiday time meant that western countries could participate in the expansion of tourism thanks to their access to greater leisure time and the increased financial resources that brought travel within their reach.
Tourism has since emerged as a fundamental sector of the economy. In 2018 it represented a contribution of 8.8 billion dollars to the global economy, generating around 10.4% of its GDP and employment for 319 million people, according to data from the annual report of the business organization, the World Travel & Tourism Council. Last year alone, over 1,400 million people around the world went on holiday, according to the World Tourism Organization, and 82,600,000 of them chose to visit Spain as a tourist destination. Catalonia welcomed 19.1 million visitors in 2018, according to data from the Regional Government, the Generalitat, and they spent an average of 187 euros per person per day.
Tourism, however, has evolved as well as grown over the intervening decades. Although there are still tourists who want a packaged holiday to see the largest possible number of sights in the shortest possible time, there are now more travellers who want to experience enjoyable visits at their own pace.
New times, new technologies
The average holidaymaker has changed from desiring only beaches and sunshine to curiosity about secluded places and short trips to taste all kinds of dishes or to sample wines. The tourism industry has been forced to adapt to these new times in which new technologies are a prominent force. Traditional travel agents have turned into virtual agencies such as Waynabox, which offers surprise trips and applications that allow you to book hotel rooms or flights or arrange many kinds of activities.
In this same spirit, the tourism school Ostelea cconsiders that there are five trends that dominate the sector in 2019: singles tourism, especially among women; wine and gourmet tourism; adventure tourism; nature tourism and, for those with nerve and money to spare, astrotourism.
All these trends and many others will be present at the coming edition of B-Travel, the fair for experience tourism in Fira de Barcelona that will take place from 22 to 24 March in Palau 8 of the Montjuïc site. For example, the event will include B-Delicious, an exclusive space for wine and food that suggests routes through a range of world cultures by tasting their food and drink.
Recent years have seen gastronomy emerge as one of the main tourist attractions, especially in Spain where, according to data from the Real Academia de Gastronomía, this activity represents 25% of GDP, 30% of employment and attracts more than 10 million tourists every year. At B-Travel, therefore, visitors can choose to sample between more than 100 traditional dishes or exotic foods.
Where does the word tourism come from?
In the 17th century, English nobles would send their children on a long journey abroad, especially to France and Italy, as a way of completing their education after they finished their studies. The term Grand Tour was the source of the term tourism, appearing for the first time in 1670 in “Le voyage d’Italie”. Later, in 1841, the Englishman Thomas Cooke was responsible for arranging the first organized holiday by train. The world’s first travel agent, Thomas Cook & Son, was set up in 1851, and this English entrepreneur is therefore considered to be the father of modern tourism.