A tourist is a person who travels to a place outside of their usual residence for leisure, recreation, or business purposes. They typically stay for a short period, usually less than one year, and engage in activities such as sightseeing, shopping, dining, and cultural experiences. Tourists may also participate in outdoor activities, attend events, or visit historical and cultural landmarks. The main motivation behind their travel is to experience new places, cultures, and people, and to escape the monotony of everyday life. Tourists bring economic benefits to the destinations they visit and are the main drivers of the global tourism industry.
Tourists are people who travel to destinations away from their home for leisure, business, or other purposes. They are the main consumers of the tourism industry, which is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors globally.
Tourists come from different backgrounds, cultures, and regions and have a variety of travel styles and preferences. Some tourists may travel solo, while others may travel in groups or with families. They may be seeking adventure, culture, relaxation, or luxury. Some tourists may also travel for spiritual or religious reasons, such as visiting pilgrimage sites.
Tourists bring economic benefits to the destinations they visit, generating revenue for local businesses and governments. However, tourism can also have negative impacts, such as overcrowding, environmental degradation, and cultural homogenization. To minimize these impacts, responsible and sustainable tourism practices are crucial.
Tourists can also shape the destinations they visit, as they seek and consume local products and services, influencing local economies and cultures. Therefore, it is essential for destinations to understand the needs and preferences of different types of tourists and cater to them in a way that benefits both the travelers and the local communities.
Definition of Tourist
The definition of tourist has been a subject of debate among scholars and researchers in the field of tourism studies. Some of the most notable definitions are:
John Urry (1990)
“A temporary visitor to a place outside their usual environment, for less than a year, for any main purpose other than an activity remunerated from within the place visited.”
Adrian Franklin (2002)
“The purposeful movement of people to destinations away from their place of residence for leisure, recreation, or business purposes.”
Brian Boniface and Chris Cooper (2003)
“Someone who travels away from their home, for less than a year, for a purpose other than to take up permanent residency.”
Paul Brunt (2006)
“A form of consumption that consists of the purchase of a package of travel-related goods and services.”
These definitions provide different perspectives on what constitutes tourism and who can be considered a tourist. However, they all share the common theme of temporary travel to a destination outside of the traveler’s home environment.
Types of Tourists
Tourism is a diverse and complex industry that attracts different types of travelers from all over the world. Depending on their motivations, budget, interests, and lifestyles, tourists can be classified into different categories, each with its unique characteristics and travel patterns. Some of the most common types of tourists include:
The explorer type of tourist is characterized by a spirit of adventure and a desire to discover new places and cultures. They are curious and open-minded, and prefer off-the-beaten-path destinations where they can immerse themselves in local life and traditions. Explorers are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and try new experiences, and they value authenticity and cultural immersion over luxury and comfort.
Some common activities for explorer tourists include:
- Trekking in remote areas and exploring local communities
- Participating in cultural activities and festivals
- Volunteering for local initiatives and projects
- Trying local foods and drinks
- Exploring historical and cultural sites that are not typically visited by mass tourism
- Very limited number looking for discovery and involvement with local people
Explorer tourists are a growing segment of the tourism industry and are increasingly seeking unique, immersive, and authentic travel experiences. To meet their needs, destinations and tour operators need to offer customized and flexible itineraries, opportunities to engage with local communities, and access to unique cultural experiences.
Elite tourists are high-end travelers who are seeking luxury and exclusivity in their travel experiences. They have high expectations and demand the best in terms of accommodations, services, and amenities. Elite tourists are often affluent and are willing to pay premium prices for the ultimate travel experience.
Some common characteristics of elite tourists include:
- Preference for 5-star hotels and resorts with top-notch services and amenities
- Interest in fine dining and gourmet cuisine
- Demand for personalization and customization in their travel itineraries
- Seeking unique and exclusive experiences, such as private yacht charters or helicopter tours
- A preference for private transportation and exclusive access to tourist attractions
- Special individual visits to exotic places
Elite tourists are an important target market for luxury tourism providers, and they are looking for a memorable and high-end experience that is tailored to their specific needs and preferences. To meet their expectations, destinations and tour operators need to offer top-notch amenities, personalized services, and exclusive experiences that cater to their tastes and lifestyles.
Off-beat tourists are travelers who seek unconventional and unique travel experiences, often away from the crowds and typical tourist destinations. They are looking for authentic and off-the-beaten-path experiences that allow them to explore new cultures and immerse themselves in local life.
Some common characteristics of off-beat tourists include:
- Interest in exploring destinations that are less traveled and less commercialized
- Preference for eco-friendly and sustainable tourism options
- Desire for cultural immersion and interaction with local communities
- Seek unique and quirky accommodations, such as treehouses or converted vans
- Prefer to travel on a budget, with a focus on experiencing the local way of life
- The desire to get away from the crowds
Off-beat tourists are often adventurous and spontaneous, and they value authentic experiences over luxury and comfort. To cater to this segment of tourists, destinations and tour operators need to offer unique and authentic travel experiences that are off-the-beaten-path and promote sustainable tourism practices. This includes offering local homestays, rural tourism experiences, and community-based tourism programs.
Unusual tourists are travelers who are looking for unique and unconventional travel experiences that challenge their expectations and perceptions. They are open-minded and curious, and seek destinations and experiences that are different from what they have experienced before.
Some common characteristics of unusual tourists include:
- The visit with particular objectives e.g. for physical danger or isolation, study curiosity
- Interest in exploring unusual destinations and activities, such as dark tourism or abandoned places
- Desire for off-the-beaten-path experiences that are not typically found in mainstream travel guides
- Preference for unique and quirky accommodations, such as capsule hotels or ice hotels
- Seeking unusual and extreme adventure activities, such as bungee jumping or skydiving
- Open to trying unconventional and unfamiliar foods and drinks
Unusual tourists are often thrill-seekers who are looking for a unique and memorable travel experience. To meet their needs, destinations and tour operators need to offer unusual and unconventional experiences that are not typically found in mainstream tourism offerings. This includes offering unique and quirky accommodations, unusual adventure activities, and immersive cultural experiences.
Incipient mass tourists are travelers who are exploring new and emerging destinations that are just starting to gain popularity among tourists. They are adventurous and curious, and seek destinations that are still relatively undiscovered by mass tourism.
Some common characteristics of incipient mass tourists include:
- Interest in exploring new and emerging destinations that are just starting to gain popularity
- Desire for authentic and off-the-beaten-path experiences
- Open to trying new and unconventional activities and experiences
- Preference for budget-friendly accommodations and travel options
- Willing to take the risk of traveling to less developed destinations with fewer tourist amenities and services
- A study flow travelling alone or in small organised groups using some shared services
Incipient mass tourists are an important segment of the tourism industry, as they help to introduce new destinations to the world and drive the growth of local tourism economies. To meet their needs, destinations and tour operators need to offer unique and authentic travel experiences that are budget-friendly and accessible. This includes promoting local homestays, rural tourism experiences, and community-based tourism programs, and offering low-cost transportation options.
Mass tourists are travelers who are seeking popular and well-known destinations that are widely marketed and promoted by the tourism industry. They are typically looking for an easy and convenient travel experience, and are often drawn to destinations that offer a wide range of amenities and services.
Some common characteristics of mass tourists include:
- Interest in popular and well-known destinations that are widely marketed by the tourism industry
- Preference for convenient and accessible travel options
- Demand for a wide range of amenities and services, such as restaurants, shops, and tourist attractions
- Tend to choose all-inclusive packages and pre-booked tours
- Usually travel in groups or as part of a tour
- The general packaged tour
Mass tourism is a significant part of the tourism industry, as it is driven by the demand for convenient and accessible travel experiences. To meet the needs of mass tourists, destinations and tour operators need to offer well-developed infrastructure, a wide range of amenities and services, and easy access to popular tourist attractions. This includes offering all-inclusive packages, pre-booked tours, and accessible transportation options.
Charter tourists are travelers who are traveling as part of a group and typically book their trips through a travel agency or tour operator. They are often seeking convenience, affordability, and a pre-planned itinerary, and are often traveling to popular destinations for sun, sea, and sand.
Some common characteristics of charter tourists include:
- Traveling as part of a group and typically book their trips through a travel agency or tour operator
- Preference for pre-planned itineraries and affordable travel options
- Demand for convenience and comfort, such as all-inclusive packages and pre-booked transfers
- Interest in sun, sea, and sand destinations, such as beach resorts
- Typically travel for leisure purposes and seek relaxation and recreation
- Mass travel to relaxation to destinations, which incorporated western facilities as possible
Charter tourism is a significant part of the tourism industry, especially for sun, sea, and sand destinations, as it provides convenience and affordability for travelers. To meet the needs of charter tourists, destinations and tour operators need to offer pre-planned itineraries, affordable travel options, and a wide range of amenities and services. This includes offering all-inclusive packages, pre-booked transfers, and well-developed tourist infrastructure.
Frequency of types of tourists and their adaptations to local norms (Smith, 1977b)
According to Smith (1977b), the frequency of different types of tourists and their adaptations to local norms vary depending on the destination and their motivations for travel. Some tourists, such as elite tourists, are more likely to adapt to local norms, as they are seeking a more authentic cultural experience. On the other hand, mass tourists are less likely to adapt to local norms, as they are more focused on convenience and comfort.
Additionally, the frequency of different types of tourists also varies depending on the level of development of the destination. For example, incipient mass tourists are more likely to be found in emerging destinations, while mass tourists are more likely to be found in well-developed destinations.
However, regardless of the type of tourist and the level of development of the destination, it is important for both tourists and local communities to respect and understand each other’s customs and traditions, and to strive for a mutually beneficial relationship. This can help to promote a positive and sustainable tourism industry, and to ensure that the benefits of tourism are shared by both tourists and local communities.