Grand Tour

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Grand Tour (disambiguation).

The interior of the Pantheon in the 18th century, painted by Giovanni Paolo Panini

The Grand Tourist, like Francis Basset, would become familiar with Antiquities, though this altar is the invention of the painter Pompeo Batoni, 1778.[citation needed]

The Grand Tour was the traditional trip of Europe undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transport in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational rite of passage. Though primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations on Continental Europe, and from the second half of the 18th century, by some South and North Americans, among others. The tradition was extended to include more of the middle class after rail and steamship travel made the journey less of a burden, and Thomas Cook made the “Cook’s Tour” a byword.

The New York Times in 2008 described the Grand Tour in this way:

Three hundred years ago, wealthy young Englishmen began taking a post-Oxbridge trek through France and Italy in search of art, culture and the roots of Western civilization. With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and months (or years) to roam, they commissioned paintings, perfected their language skills and mingled with the upper crust of the Continent.

—Gross, Matt., Lessons From the Frugal Grand Tour.” New York Times 5 September 2008.

The primary value of the Grand Tour, it was believed, lay in the exposure both to the cultural legacy of classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and to the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of the European continent. In addition, it provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. A Grand Tour could last from several months to several years. It was commonly undertaken in the company of a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor. The Grand Tour had more than superficial cultural importance; as E. P. Thompson stated, “ruling-class control in the 18th century was located primarily in a cultural hegemony, and only secondarily in an expression of economic or physical (military) power.”[1]

In essence the Grand Tour was neither a scholar’s pilgrimage nor a religious one,[2] though a pleasurable stay in Venice and a cautious residence in Rome were essential. Catholic Grand Tourists followed the same routes as Protestant Whigs. Since the 17th century a tour to such places was also considered essential for budding young artists to understand proper painting and sculpture techniques, though the trappings of the Grand Tour— valets and coachmen, perhaps a cook, certainly a “bear-leader” or scholarly guide— were beyond their reach. The advent of popular guides, such as the Richardsons’, did much to popularize such trips, and following the artists themselves, the elite considered travel to such centres as necessary rites of passage. For gentlemen, some works of art were essential to demonstrate the breadth and polish they had received from their tour: in Rome antiquaries like Thomas Jenkins provided access to private collections of antiquities, among which enough proved to be for sale that the English market raised the price of such things, as well as for coins and medals, which formed more portable souvenirs and a respected gentleman’s guide to ancient history. Pompeo Batoni made a career of painting English milordi posed with graceful ease among Roman antiquities. Many continued on to Naples, where they viewed Herculaneum and Pompeii, but few ventured far into southern Italy and fewer still to Greece, still under Turkish rule.


Rome for many centuries had been the goal of pilgrims, especially during Jubilee when they visited the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome.

In Britain, Thomas Coryat‘s travel book Coryat’s Crudities (1611), published during the Twelve Years’ Truce, was an early influence on the Grand Tour but it was the far more extensive tour through Italy as far as Naples undertaken by the ‘Collector’ Earl of Arundel, together with his wife and children in 1613–14 that established the most significant precedent. This is partly because he asked Inigo Jones, not yet established as an architect but already known as a ‘great traveller’ and masque designer, to act as his cicerone (guide).[3] Larger numbers of tourists began their tours after the Peace of Münster in 1648. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded use of the term (perhaps its introduction to English) was by Richard Lassels (c. 1603–1668), an expatriate Roman Catholic priest, in his book The Voyage of Italy, which was published posthumously in Paris in 1670 and then in London.[4] Lassels’s introduction listed four areas in which travel furnished “an accomplished, consummate Traveller”: the intellectual, the social, the ethical (by the opportunity of drawing moral instruction from all the traveller saw), and the political.

Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr John Moore and the latter’s son John. A view of Geneva is in the distance where they stayed for two years. Painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

The idea of traveling for the sake of curiosity and learning was a developing idea in the 17th century. With John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), it was argued, and widely accepted, that knowledge comes entirely from the external senses, that what one knows comes from the physical stimuli to which one has been exposed. Thus, one could “use up” the environment, taking from it all it offers, requiring a change of place. Travel, therefore, was necessary for one to develop the mind and expand knowledge of the world. As a young man at the outset of his account of a repeat Grand Tour, the historian Edward Gibbon remarked that “According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman.” Consciously adapted for intellectual self-improvement, Gibbon was “revisiting the Continent on a larger and more liberal plan”; most Grand Tourists did not pause more than briefly in libraries. On the eve of the Romantic era he played a significant part in introducing, William Beckford wrote a vivid account of his Grand Tour that made Gibbon’s unadventurous Italian tour look distinctly conventional.[5]

The typical 18th-century sentiment was that of the studious observer traveling through foreign lands reporting his findings on human nature for those unfortunate enough to have stayed home. Recounting one’s observations to society at large to increase its welfare was considered an obligation; the Grand Tour flourished in this mindset.[6]

The Grand Tour not only provided a liberal education but allowed those who could afford it the opportunity to buy things otherwise unavailable at home, and it thus increased participants’ prestige and standing. Grand Tourists would return with crates of art, books, pictures, sculpture, and items of culture, which would be displayed in libraries, cabinets, gardens, and drawing rooms, as well as the galleries built purposely for their display; The Grand Tour became a symbol of wealth and freedom. Artists who especially thrived on Grand Tourists included Carlo Maratti, who was first patronized by John Evelyn as early as 1645,[7] Pompeo Batoni the portraitist, and the vedutisti such as Canaletto, Pannini and Guardi. The less well-off could return with an album of Piranesi etchings.

The “perhaps” in Gibbon’s opening remark cast an ironic shadow over his resounding statement.[8] Critics of the Grand Tour derided its lack of adventure. “The tour of Europe is a paltry thing”, said one 18th century critic, “a tame, uniform, unvaried prospect”.[9] The Grand Tour was said to reinforce the old preconceptions and prejudices about national characteristics, as Jean Gailhard‘s Compleat Gentleman (1678) observes: “French courteous. Spanish lordly. Italian amorous. German clownish.”[9] The deep suspicion with which Tour was viewed at home in England, where it was feared that the very experiences that completed the British gentleman might well undo him, were epitomised in the sarcastic nativist view of the ostentatiously “well-travelled” maccaroni of the 1760s and 1770s.

Northerners found the contrast between Roman ruins and modern peasants of the Roman Campagna an educational lesson in vanities[citation needed] (painting by Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem, 1661, Mauritshuis)

After the arrival of steam-powered transportation, around 1825, the Grand Tour custom continued, but it was of a qualitative difference — cheaper to undertake, safer, easier, open to anyone. During much of the 19th century, most educated young men of privilege undertook the Grand Tour. Germany and Switzerland came to be included in a more broadly defined circuit. Later, it became fashionable for young women as well; a trip to Italy, with a spinster aunt as chaperon, was part of the upper-class woman’s education, as in E. M. Forster‘s novel A Room with a View.

It is important to see the contribution of anthropology to the study of the Grand Tour. An anthropologist, [Maximiliano E. Korstanje] argues that the Grand Tour emerged in England and was rapidly adopted by other Northern countries because its cultural roots came from Norse Mythology. Among Indo-Arian mythologies, Norse culture is the only one where its major God, Odin/Wodan, travels long distances to learn the customs and habits of humans. The ruler of Asgaard was accustomed to undertake his adventures in the form of animals. In the Ynlinga Saga, Odin/Wodan is described as an ongoing wanderer whose hunger of adventure and risk has no limits. This legend tells us that Odin, who operated under many disguises, used a false identity (Vegtam the wanderer) to defy the Giant trespassing through Jotunheim (Jotunheimr). Once there, Odin drank from the well of wisdom and was rushed to sacrifice his own eye in order to know the meaning of sorrow. This founding event symbolizes how pain is a necessary step to access unlimited knowledge, and this is the main value that the Grand tour emulates.[10]

Travel itinerary

The most common itinerary of the Grand Tour[11] shifted across generations in the cities it embraced, but the British tourist usually began in Dover, England and crossed the English Channel to Ostend,[12] in the Netherlands/Belgium, or to Calais or Le Havre in France. From there the tourist, usually accompanied by a tutor (known colloquially as a “bear-leader“) and (if wealthy enough) a troop of servants, could rent or acquire a coach (which could be resold in any city or disassembled and packed across the Alps, as in Giacomo Casanova’s travels, who resold it on completion), or opt to make the trip by boat as far as the Alps, either travelling up the Seine to Paris, or up the Rhine to Basel.

Upon hiring a French-speaking guide, as French was the dominant language of the elite in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, the tourist and his entourage would travel to Paris. There the traveler might undertake lessons in French, dancing, fencing and riding. The appeal of Paris lay in the sophisticated language and manners of French high society, including courtly behavior and fashion. This served the purpose of preparing the young man for a leadership position at home, often in government or diplomacy.

Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland (1640–1702), painted in classical dress in Rome by Carlo Maratti

From Paris he would typically go to urban Switzerland for a while, often to Geneva (the cradle of the Protestant Reformation) or Lausanne.[13] (“Alpinism” or mountaineering developed in the 19th century.) From there the traveller would endure a difficult crossing over the Alps into northern Italy (such as at the Great St Bernard Pass), which included dismantling the carriage and luggage.[13] If wealthy enough, he might be carried over the hard terrain by servants.

Once in Italy, the tourist would visit Turin (and, less often, Milan), then might spend a few months in Florence, where there was a considerable Anglo-Italian society accessible to traveling Englishmen “of quality” and where the Tribuna of the Uffizi gallery brought together in one space the monuments of High Renaissance paintings and Roman sculptures that would inspire picture galleries adorned with antiquities at home, with side trips to Pisa, then move on to Padua,[14] Bologna, and Venice. The British idea of Venice as the “locus of decadent Italianate allure” made it an epitome and cultural setpiece of the Grand Tour.[15][16]

From Venice the traveler went to Rome to study the ruins of ancient Rome, and the masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and architecture of Rome’s Early Christian, Renaissance, and Baroque periods. Some travellers also visited Naples to study music, and (after the mid-18th century) to appreciate the recently discovered archaeological sites of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and perhaps (for the adventurous) an ascent of Mount Vesuvius. Later in the period the more adventurous, especially if provided with a yacht, might attempt Sicily (the site of Greek ruins) or even Greece itself. But Naples – or later Paestum further south – was the usual terminus.

From here the traveler traversed the Alps heading north through to the German-speaking parts of Europe. The traveler might stop first in Innsbruck before visiting Vienna, Dresden, Berlin and Potsdam, with perhaps some study time at the universities in Munich or Heidelberg. From there travellers visited Holland and Flanders (with more gallery-going and art appreciation) before returning across the Channel to England.

Published accounts

William Beckford’s Grand Tour through Europe shown in red.

Published (and often polished) personal accounts of the Grand Tour provide illuminating detail and a first-hand perspective of the experience. Examining some accounts offered by authors in their own lifetimes, Jeremy Black[17] detects the element of literary artifice in these and cautions that they should be approached as travel literature rather than unvarnished accounts. He lists as examples Joseph Addison, John Andrews,[18] William Thomas Beckford, whose Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents was a published account of his letters back home in 1780, embellished with stream-of-consciousness associations, William Coxe,[19] Elizabeth Craven,[20] John Moore, tutor to successive dukes of Hamilton,[21] Samuel Jackson Pratt, Tobias Smollett, Philip Thicknesse,[22] and Arthur Young. Lord Byron‘s letters to his mother with the accounts of his travels have also been published. The letters written by sisters Mary and Ida Saxton of Canton, Ohio in 1869 while on a six-month tour offer insight into the Grand Tour tradition from an American perspective.[23]

On television

In 2009, the Grand Tour featured prominently in a PBS miniseries based on the novel Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. Produced with attention to detail, and in settings, mainly Venice, it portrayed the Grand Tour as an essential ritual for entry to English high society.

Kevin McCloud presented Kevin McCloud’s Grand Tour on Channel 4 during the late summer and early autumn of 2009. The four part series saw Kevin retrace the popular tour by British architects through the last four centuries.

In 2005, British art historian Brian Sewell followed in the footsteps of the Grand Tourist for a 10 part television series Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour. Produced by UK’s Channel Five, Sewell travelled across Italy by car stopping off in Rome, Florence, Vesuvius, Naples, Pompeii, Turin, Milan, Cremona, Siena, Bologna, Vicenza, Paestum, Urbino, Tivoli. His journey concluded in Venice at a masked ball.

In 1998, the BBC produced an art history series Sister Wendy’s Grand Tour presented by Carmelite nun Sister Wendy. Ostensibly an art history series, the journey takes her from Madrid to Saint Petersburg with stop offs to see the great masterpieces.

See also


  1. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class 1991:43.
  2. “”Pilgrimages””. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  3. E. Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour, 2nd ed. (2000) and idem, Inigo Jones’s “Roman Sketchbook”, 2 vols (2006)
  4. Anthony Wood reported that the book was “esteemed the best and surest Guide or Tutor for young men of his Time.” see Edward Chaney, “Richard Lassels”, ODNB, and idem, The Grand Tour and the Great Rebellion (Geneva, 1985)
  5. E. Chaney, “Gibbon, Beckford and the Interpretation of Dreams, Waking Thoughts and Incidents“, The Beckford Society Annual Lectures (London, 2004), pp. 25–50.
  6. Paul Fussell (1987), p. 129.
  7. E. Chaney, The Evolution of English Collecting
  8. Noted by Redford 1996, Preface.
  9. Bohls & Duncan (2005)
  10. Korstanje, M. E. (2012). Examining the Norse mythology and the archetype of Odin: The inception of Grand Tour. Turizam: znanstveno-stručni časopis, 60(4), 369–384.
  11. See Fussell (1987), Buzard (2002), Bohls and Duncan (2005)
  12. Ostend was the initial starting point for William Beckford on the continent.
  13. Towner, John. “THE GRAND TOUR A Key Phase in the History of Tourism” (PDF). Annals of Tourism Research. Vol. 12, pp. 297–333. 1985. J. Jafari and Pergamon Press Ltd. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  14. The Registro dei viaggiatori inglesi in Italia, 1618–1765, consists of 2038 autograph signatures of English and Scottish visitors, some of them scholars, to be sure. (J. Isaacs, “The Earl of Rochester’s Grand Tour” The Review of English Studies 3. 9 [January 1927:75–76]).
  15. Redford, Bruce. Venice and the Grand Tour. Yale University Press: 1996.
  16. Eglin, John. Venice Transfigured: The Myth of Venice in British Culture, 1660–1797. Macmillan: 2001.
  17. Black, “Fragments from the Grand Tour” The Huntington Library Quarterly 53.4 (Autumn 1990:337–341) p 338.
  18. Andrews, A Comparative View of the French and English Nations in their Manners, Politics, and Literature, London, 1785.
  19. Coxe, Sketches of the Natural, Political and Civil State of Switzerland London, 1779; Travels into Poland, Russia, Sweden and Denmark London, 1784; Travels in Switzerland London, 1789. Coxe’s travels range far from the Grand Tour pattern.
  20. Craven, A Journey through the Crimea to Constantinople London 1789.
  21. Moore, A View of Society and Manners in Italy; with Anecdotes relating to some Eminent Characters London, 1781
  22. Thicknesse, A Year’s Journey through France and Part of Spain, London, 1777.
  23. Belden, Grand Tour of Ida Saxton McKinley and Sister Mary Saxton Barber 1869 (Canton, Ohio) 1985.


  • Adam Matthews Digital: ‘The Grand Tour’ (
  • Elizabeth Bohls and Ian Duncan, ed. (2005). Travel Writing 1700–1830 : An Anthology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-284051-7
  • James Buzard (2002), “The Grand Tour and after (1660–1840)”, in The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing. ISBN 0-521-78140-X
  • Paul Fussell (1987), “The Eighteenth Century and the Grand Tour”, in The Norton Book of Travel, ISBN 0-393-02481-4
  • Edward Chaney (1985), The Grand Tour and the Great Rebellion: Richard Lassels and ‘The Voyage of Italy’ in the seventeenth century(CIRVI, Geneva-Turin, 1985.
  • Edward Chaney (2004), “Richard Lassels”: entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • Edward Chaney, The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations since the Renaissance (Frank Cass, London and Portland OR, 1998; revised edition, Routledge 2000). ISBN 0-7146-4474-9.
  • Edward Chaney ed. (2003), The Evolution of English Collecting (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2003).
  • Edward Chaney and Timothy Wilks, The Jacobean Grand Tour: Early Stuart Travellers in Europe (I.B. Tauris, London, 2014). ISBN 978 1 78076 783 3
  • Sánchez-Jáuregui-Alpañés, Maria Dolores, and Scott Wilcox. The English Prize: The Capture of the Westmorland, An Episode of the Grand Tour. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0300176056.
  • Geoffrey Trease, The Grand Tour (Yale University Press) 1991.
  • Andrew Witon and Ilaria Bignamini, Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the Eighteenth-Century, Tate Gallery exhibition catalogue, 1997.
  • Clare Hornsby (ed.) “The Impact of Italy: The Grand Tour and Beyond”, British School at Rome, 2000.
  • Ilaria Bignamini and Clare Hornsby, “Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth Century Rome” (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2010).
  • Roma Britannica: Art Patronage and Cultural Exchange in Eighteenth-Century Rome, eds. D. Marshall, K. Wolfe and S. Russell, British School at Rome, 2011, pp. 147–70.
  • Henry S. Belden III, Grand Tour of Ida Saxton McKinley and Sister Mary Saxton Barber 1869, (Canton, Ohio) 1985.
  • Korstanje, M. E. (2012). Examining the Norse mythology and the archetype of Odin: The inception of Grand Tour. Turizam: znanstveno-stručni časopis, 60(4), 369–384.

External links


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about travel. For other uses of Tourism and Tourist, see Tourist (disambiguation).

A tourist taking photographs and video at archaeological site

Backpacking tourists in Vienna

Tourism is travel for recreation, leisure, religious, family or business purposes, usually for a limited duration. Tourism is commonly associated with international travel, but may also refer to travel to another place within the same country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people “traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes”.[1]

Tourism has become a popular global leisure activity. Tourism can be domestic or international, and international tourism has both incoming and outgoing implications on a country’s balance of payments. Today, tourism is a major source of income for many countries, and affects the economy of both the source and host countries, in some cases being of vital importance.

Tourism suffered as a result of a strong economic slowdown of the late-2000s recession, between the second half of 2008 and the end of 2009, and the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus,[2][3] but slowly recovered. International tourism receipts (the travel item in the balance of payments) grew to US$1.03 trillion (€740 billion) in 2011, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.8% from 2010.[4] International tourist arrivals surpassed the milestone of 1 billion tourists globally for the first time in 2012,[5] the same year in which China became the largest spender in international tourism globally with US$102 billion, surpassing Germany and United States. China and emerging markets such as Russia and Brazil had significantly increased their spending over the previous decade.[6]


1922 postcard of tourists in the High Tatras, Slovakia.

The word tourist was used by 1772[7] and tourism by 1811.[8]

William F. Theobald (1994) suggested that “etymologically, the word tour is derived from the Latin, ‘tornare’ and the Greek, ‘tornos’, meaning ‘a lathe or circle; movement around a central point or axis’. This meaning has changed in modern English to represent ‘one’s turn’. The suffix –ism is defined as ‘an action or process; typical behaviour or quality’, while the suffix, –ist denotes ‘one who performs a given action’. When the word tour and the suffixes –ism and –ist are combined, they suggest the action of moving in a circle. Describing a circle implies returning to one’s starting point, so a tour is a round-trip journey, i.e. the act of leaving and ultimately returning to the original starting point. Therefore, one who takes such a journey can be called a tourist.”[9]

Today, three schools discuss the roots of ‘tourism’. The French School, led by A. Houlot, argues that the term ‘tourism’ comes from the old Aramaic Tur, which was used for the exploration and movement of people in the Bible. This word was used for the first time when Moses began his expedition to the lands of Canaán.[10] Another school of thought, the Onomastic School, considers the origin of the concept not from a linguistic perspective but rather links it to the last name of the French aristocrat Della Tour. According to this school, after Carlos V signed a treaty with England in 1516, in celebration of this event, the future king gave the Della Tour family exclusive rights to conduct commercial transport and related businesses.[11] A third school focuses on the Anglo-Saxon world, and scrutinises Theobald´s thesis. Surmising that the roots of the word ‘tourism’ lie in the ancient Anglo-Saxon term Torn, these scholars have found evidence that the term was coined in the 12th century by farmers to denote travel with an intention to return. Over the centuries, the meaning of the word has shifted. By the middle of the 18th century, English noblemen used the term ‘turn’ to refer to trips undertaken for education and cultural exploration. In reality, the purpose of the noblemen’s trips to the different parts of the kingdom was to acquire knowledge that was later useful for governing.[12]

Significance of tourism

Strandkorb chairs on Usedom Island, Germany. Not only the service sector grows thanks to tourism, but also local manufacturers (like those producing the strandkorb), retailers, the real estate sector and the general image of a location can benefit a lot.

Tourism is an important, even vital, source of income for many countries. Its importance was recognized in the Manila Declaration on World Tourism of 1980 as “an activity essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural, educational, and economic sectors of national societies and on their international relations.”[1][13]

Tourism brings in large amounts of income into a local economy in the form of payment for goods and services needed by tourists, accounting for 30% of the world’s trade of services, and 6% of overall exports of goods and services.[4] It also creates opportunities for employment in the service sector of the economy associated with tourism.[14]

The service industries which benefit from tourism include transportation services, such as airlines, cruise ships, and taxicabs; hospitality services, such as accommodations, including hotels and resorts; and entertainment venues, such as amusement parks, casinos, shopping malls, music venues, and theatres. This is in addition to goods bought by tourists, including souvenirs, clothing and other supplies.


In 1936, the League of Nations defined a foreign tourist as “someone traveling abroad for at least twenty-four hours”. Its successor, the United Nations, amended this definition in 1945, by including a maximum stay of six months.[9]

In 1941, Hunziker and Krapf defined tourism as “the sum of the phenomena and relationships arising from the travel and stay of non-residents, insofar as they do not lead to permanent residence and are not connected with any earning activity.”[15][16] In 1976, the Tourism Society of England’s definition was: “Tourism is the temporary, short-term movement of people to destinations outside the places where they normally live and work and their activities during the stay at each destination. It includes movements for all purposes.”[17] In 1981, the International Association of Scientific Experts in Tourism defined tourism in terms of particular activities chosen and undertaken outside the home.[18]

In 1994, the United Nations identified three forms of tourism in its Recommendations on Tourism Statistics:[19]

  • Domestic tourism, involving residents of the given country traveling only within this country
  • Inbound tourism, involving non-residents traveling in the given country
  • Outbound tourism, involving residents traveling in another country

The terms tourism and travel are sometimes used interchangeably. In this context, travel has a similar definition to tourism, but implies a more purposeful journey. The terms tourism and tourist are sometimes used pejoratively, to imply a shallow interest in the cultures or locations visited. By contrast, traveler is often used as a sign of distinction. The sociology of tourism has studied the cultural values underpinning these distinctions and their implications for class relations.[20]

World tourism statistics and rankings

Total volume of cross-border tourist travel

International tourist arrivals reached 1.035 billion in 2012, up from over 983 million in 2011, and 940 million in 2010.[4][5][14] In 2011 and 2012, international travel demand continued to recover from the losses resulting from the late-2000s recession, where tourism suffered a strong slowdown from the second half of 2008 through the end of 2009. After a 5% increase in the first half of 2008, growth in international tourist arrivals moved into negative territory in the second half of 2008, and ended up only 2% for the year, compared to a 7% increase in 2007.[2] The negative trend intensified during 2009, exacerbated in some countries due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, resulting in a worldwide decline of 4.2% in 2009 to 880 million international tourists arrivals, and a 5.7% decline in international tourism receipts.[3]

World’s top 10 tourism destinations

The World Tourism Organization reports the following ten countries as the most visited in terms of the number of international travellers in 2014.

Rank Country UN WTO
(2013 to
(2012 to
1  France Europe 83.7 million 83.6 million Increase 0.1 Increase 2.0
2  United States North America 74.8 million 70.0 million Increase 6.8 Increase 5.0
3  Spain Europe 65.0 million 60.7 million Increase 7.1 Increase 5.6
4  China Asia 55.6 million 55.7 million Decrease 0.1 Decrease 3.5
5  Italy Europe 48.6 million 47.7 million Increase 1.8 Increase 2.9
6  Turkey Europe 39.8 million 37.8 million Increase 5.3 Increase 5.9
7  Germany Europe 33.0 million 31.5 million Increase 4.6 Increase 3.7
8  United Kingdom Europe 32.6 million 31.1 million Increase 5.0 Increase 6.1
9  Russia Europe 29.8 million 28.4 million Increase 5.3 Increase 10.2
10  Mexico North America 29.1 million 24.2 million Increase 20.5 Increase 3.2

International tourism receipts

International tourism receipts grew to US$1.245 billion in 2014, corresponding to an increase in real terms of 3.7% from 2013.[4] The World Tourism Organization reports the following countries as the top ten tourism earners for the year 2014, with the United States by far the top earner.

Rank Country UNWTO
(2013 to
(2012 to
1  United States North America $177.2 billion $172.9 billion Increase 2.5 Increase 7.0
2  Spain Europe $65.2 billion $62.6 billion Increase 4.2 Increase 7.6
3  China Asia $56.9 billion $51.7 billion Increase 10.2 Increase 3.3
4  France Europe $55.4 billion $56.7 billion Decrease 2.3 Increase 5.6
 Macau, China Asia $50.8 billion $51.8 billion Decrease 1.9 Increase 18.1
5  Italy Europe $45.5 billion $43.9 billion Increase 3.7 Increase 6.6
6  United Kingdom Europe $45.3 billion $41.0 billion Increase 10.3 Increase 12.1
7  Germany Europe $43.3 billion $41.3 billion Increase 5.0 Increase 8.2
8  Thailand Asia $38.4 billion $41.8 billion Decrease 8.0 Increase 23.4
 Hong Kong, China Asia $38.4 billion $38.9 billion Decrease 1.4 Increase 17.7
9  Australia Oceania $32.0 billion $31.2 billion Increase 1.8 Decrease 0.5
10  Turkey Europe $29.5 billion $27.9 billion Increase 3.7 Increase 4.1

International tourism expenditure

The World Tourism Organization reports the following countries as the top ten biggest spenders on international tourism for the year 2014.

Rank Country UNWTO
(2013 to
1  China Asia $164.9 billion $128.6 billion 13.2 Increase 27.1
2  United States North America $110.8 billion $104.1 billion 8.9 Increase 6.4
3  Germany Europe $92.2 billion $91.4 billion 7.4 Increase 0.9
4  United Kingdom Europe $57.6 billion $52.7 billion 4.6 Increase 3.8
5  Russia Europe $50.4 billion $53.5 billion 4.0 Decrease 13.7
6  France Europe $47.8 billion $42.9 billion 3.8 Increase 11.3
7  Canada North America $33.8 billion $35.2 billion 2.7 Increase 3.3
8  Italy Europe $28.8 billion $27.0 billion 2.3 Increase 6.9
9  Australia Oceania $26.3 billion $28.6 billion 2.1 Decrease 1.7
10  Brazil South America $25.6 billion $25.0 billion 2.1 Increase 11.7

MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index

Based on air traffic, the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index reports the following cities as the top ten most popular destinations of tourism worldwide in 2015.[24]

Rank City Country International
tourist arrivals[24]
1 London  United Kingdom 18.82 million
2 Bangkok  Thailand 18.24 million
3 Paris  France 16.06 million
4 Dubai  United Arab Emirates 14.26 million
5 Istanbul  Turkey 12.56 million
6 New York City  United States 12.27 million
7 Singapore  Singapore 11.88 million
8 Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia 11.12 million
9 Seoul  South Korea 10.35 million
10 Hong Kong  Hong Kong 8.66 million

MasterCard reports the following cities as the top ten biggest earners on tourism worldwide in 2015.[24]

Rank City Country International
tourists spending[24]
1 London  United Kingdom $20.2 billion
2 New York City  United States $17.3 billion
3 Paris  France $16.6 billion
4 Seoul  South Korea $15.2 billion
5 Singapore  Singapore $14.6 billion
6 Barcelona  Spain $13.8 billion
7 Bangkok  Thailand $12.3 billion
8 Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia $12.0 billion
9 Dubai  United Arab Emirates $11.6 billion
10 Istanbul  Turkey $9.3 billion

Euromonitor International Top City Destinations Ranking

Based on the international tourist arrivals, Euromonitor International released their rankings of the most visited cities in the world in January 2015:[25][26]

Rank City Coutry International
tourist arrivals[27]
1 Hong Kong  Hong Kong, China 25.58 million
2 Singapore  Singapore 22.45 million
3 Bangkok  Thailand 17.46 million
4 London  United Kingdom 16.78 million
5 Paris  France 15.20 million
6 Macau  Macau, China 14.26 million
7 New York City  United States 11.85 million
8 Shenzhen  China 11.70 million
9 Kuala Lumpur  Malaysia 11.18 million
10 Antalya  Turkey 11.12 million


A Japanese tourist consulting a tour guide and a guide book from Akizato Ritō’s Miyako meisho zue (1787)


Travel outside a person’s local area for leisure was largely confined to wealthy classes, who at times travelled to distant parts of the world, to see great buildings, works of art, learn new languages, experience new cultures, and to taste different cuisines. As early as Shulgi, however, kings praised themselves for protecting roads and building waystations for travelers.[28] During the Roman Republic, medicinal spas and coastal resorts such as Baiae were popular among the rich. Pausanias (geographer) wrote his Description of Greece in the 2nd century AD. In ancient China, nobles sometimes made a point of visiting Mount Tai and, on occasion, all five Sacred Mountains.

Middle Ages

By the Middle Ages, Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam all had traditions of pilgrimage that motivated even the lower classes to undertake distant journeys for health or spiritual improvement, seeing the sights along the way. The Islamic hajj is still central to its faith and Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales and Wu Cheng’en‘s Journey to the West remain classics of English and Chinese literature.

The 10th- to 13th-century Song dynasty also saw secular travel writers such as Su Shi (11th century) and Fan Chengda (12th century) become popular in China. Under the Ming, Xu Xiake continued the practice.[29] In medieval Italy, Francesco Petrarch also wrote an allegorical account of his 1336 ascent of Mount Ventoux that praised the act of traveling and criticized frigida incuriositas (“cold lack curiosity”). The Burgundian poet Michault Taillevent later composed his own horrified recollections of a 1430 trip through the Jura Mountains.[30]

Grand Tour

Portrait of Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, on his Grand Tour with his physician Dr John Moore and the latter’s son John. Painted by Jean Preudhomme in 1774.

See also: Grand Tour

Modern tourism can be traced to what was known as the Grand Tour, which was a traditional trip around Europe, (especially Germany and Italy), undertaken by mainly upper-class European young men of means, mainly from Western and Northern European countries. The custom flourished from about 1660 until the advent of large-scale rail transit in the 1840s, and was associated with a standard itinerary. It served as an educational opportunity and rite of passage. Though primarily associated with the British nobility and wealthy landed gentry, similar trips were made by wealthy young men of Protestant Northern European nations on the Continent, and from the second half of the 18th century some South American, US, and other overseas youth joined in. The tradition was extended to include more of the middle class after rail and steamship travel made the journey less of a burden, and Thomas Cook made the “Cook’s Tour” a byword.

The Grand Tour became a real status symbol for upper class students in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this period, Johann Joachim Winckelmann’s theories about the supremacy of classic culture became very popular and appreciated in the European academic world. Artists, writers and travellers (such as Goethe) affirmed the supremacy of classic art of which Italy, France and Greece provide excellent examples. For these reasons, the Grand Tour’s main destinations were to those centres, where upper-class students could find rare examp


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