Defining Tourism

Defining Tourism
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh Scotland during the Fringe and Military Tattoo

Next week I start my first module here in Scotland, Principles of Tourism. It is an introductory course about the industry. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the scope and breadth of tourism, what it means to be a tourist, to travel, to be an active participant in the process, and the impact it has on so many lives.

One of our first activities and assignments will be to develop a definition of tourism. After completing the mechanics of the course, I will have the students sit and ponder their lives, who they are, what they like, dislike, what they want–basically, develop a short bio. Then we will progress into what it meant to travel with their families or friends, or by themselves. Again, asking a host of questions to get to the heart of how they envision travel, view the world, and tourism.

They will develop their own definition and then we will compare them in class with others, to tease out a formal definition. Then the fun begins. Well, I think it is fun. We will acquire the official definition and do some more analyzing to see how close they came or if they can argue for a better definition. Considering the official definition was designed a few decades ago, are there any generational differences or does the official definition stand up to scrutiny?

On the train to St. Andrews
On the train to St. Andrews

The inevitable question that is posed to me, and has been in the past, is what I think since I’m the professor. This is good. This is a start to asking for other viewpoints, opening your mind up to different perspectives. This opens a door. And I tell them, look, I’m just another viewpoint, consider all and then find more. Don’t just end the investigation with me. I may be one authority, but I’m certainly not the only person. Go further, and farther in that research. So back to my point. We are on the path to reflective practice. Something very valuable for my students.

At the end of the first day, we should have several concepts hashed out. Then I want them to get out there and observe, go see the concepts in actions. I want them to be creative, use the tools at their disposable to record and gain understanding. Can they see the elements of the definition in action, and how they change our actions? How our decisions are affected and effected by our choices? Can they make the connections between the definition and everyday decision-making? So many questions to ask and answered, which then leads to even more questions.

And that will be just the first day!