This history of tourism…

Travel in the Ancient World
Travel in the Ancient World by Lionel Casson

Tourism and hospitality, travel has been around since man has emerged from the ethos and could walk on two legs.  We traveled for the basic necessities to survive in those early days, scavengers for food, fuel and shelter, companionship.   Those basic needs (physiological and safety, to an extent social)  have been ascribed by Maslow and Murray’s description of the hierarchy of needs (link to more information).  Once our basic needs are fulfilled, we as an individual and as a society can progress to higher level fulfillment (self-esteem and self-actualization).  What prompted humans to travel farther afield is uncertain, but there are a host of motivators.  These motivations parallel or even prompted the development and/or advancement in technology.

Casson (1994: 21) describes that city states, those in the Mediterranean, flourished near water avenues.  Commerce was established along the major rivers and tributaries of the day.  The Tigris, The Euphrates, along the Nile, saw the development of the first ‘unified states.’  As those city states expanded, so did their want and need for commerce.  They took on the adventure of travel to take their products to markets in different lands, different cities.  Travel for the sake of  enjoyment slowly emerged.  Why? People needed to fulfill their basic needs, before they can even begin to think of engaging in the fun side of travel. Travel for the sake of enjoyment, escapism emerged as society became more advanced.  What set destinations apart?  Just as it does today?  Quality of experience.  Therefore laws were established to govern the road.  Questions that prompted the first evolution of hospitality laws, concerned pricing and service.

Code of Hammurabi
Code of Hammurabi

Yet, travel has never been easy.  There are pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages.  We have gained and we have lost, just as humanity has evolved over the centuries.  But one philosophy has always dictated the mantra of our industry:  Quality Service.  Value is held from the perspective of the individual.  Expectations can and can’t be articulated.  Thus quality service as led to development of code of conduct for those in the industry.  Such as, the Code of Hammurabi (1750 BC); one of the first organized documents to stipulate the management of taverns and inns.  Specific rules and regulations for the handling of customers.  A code of expectations to ensure that every one had an enjoyable stay, and payment received.  Hospitality laws, some very old, are still on the books throughout the world.  Several civilizations have specific definitions for what it means to be a tourist, traveler.  Hospitia has its origins in Rome.  Oígidecht is from the Celtic world, from Ireland and means stranger, or one that is on a journey away from home.  Written history records exceptional hospitality, and at other times, the tradition has been used to execute nasty deeds.  The Glencoe Massacre in Scotland is one such incident that cast a nefarious stain on hospitality.  Regardless, some of these codes are still in existence today.  

There are vast chronicles of early tourist life.  Of people moving from one place to another for a specific reason, at a specific time.  Tourism parallels our own evolution and has even sparked the development of technology.  Whether the reason was solely for tourism, is debatable.  Yet, the functionality of a cart was more than just the transportation of good across great distances.  Someone, somewhere saw that cart and envision a chariot.  Someone saw a conveyance to help passengers.  Someone saw pilgrims on a road, with that cart, and wondered, where are they going to stop? Could I capitalize on their needs?  Could I build something that would aid them in their journey?  A city administrator, heard complaints from those on a journey, and constructed, enacted laws to govern the delivery of quality service so all parties could derive mutual value from that interaction.  That same administrator saw what was happening about him, something that they possessed of interest, and organized structures and services around that object, and made sure others conveyed a message to other travelers along the road.

The roads traveled served several functions.  But they were routes of information.  Information delivered from point A to point B, because someone had a letter.  Someone had a message about their every day life.  Stories were told around camp fires, in the streets of cities, or while drinking wine or ale in a tavern.  Stories became myths, and legends, and fueled a future generation to explore.  The Grand Tour became a 19th century pilgrimage of the emerging middle class to find spots that they had read about in books and newspapers. Serial stories published in papers became the focal points of travel, and led Thomas Cook to develop the first organize tour that exploited the use of the newest form of travel, the railroads.  As popularity grew, other developments helped the traveler in their quest for the unknown.  Modern cinematic films have spurred travel to a host of destination such as Scotland and New Zealand.  Traveler checks, tour guides, post cards, itineraries, coaches, cars, buses, airplanes, handheld PDAs, cell phones, computers, all of these technological developments helped to educate and inform society to the travel opportunities out there.  How far could we go?  How about to Mars?  How about to outer space?  Is space tourism our next adventure?  

Our lives are marked by moments.  We are born, we live and we die.  Travel has transformed from a luxury to a necessity.  Once only experienced by the rich; now experienced by the multitude.  The reasons, the motivations are uniquely our own.  How do we learn about the past, but by asking questions of those here.  How do we learn what we have gained but by examining the time in which travel has existed in its earliest form, till now, and for the future.  The history of tourism is part of us, it is our story, and woven into the mosaic of our existence.  It is our journey.

Our journeys begin with just one step…

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