Tourism’s transformation qualities…

Tourism’s transformation qualities…

Tourism and the act of travel has a way of transforming your life. From the moment you are born, your life revolves around change, exposure to new and exciting objects, experiences, and points of reality. Curiosity governs the exploration of babies, toddlers, and young children. As we mature, we develop a more sophisticated decision-making process. This progression through life, this life-span has different stages, and we can inter-relate this progression of aging with the tourism life cycle.  Figure 1 represents Plog’s mode of traveler type and destination life cycle.

Plog's Model
Figure 1.  Life Span and Plog’s model of destination Life Cycle to Traveler Type

Basically, as we age, we develop different mentalities that govern our travel choices and behavior. What type of trip we take, when we take it, how take it, where we decide to go, depends on where we are in our lifespan. If you are young, you may or may not have the money to travel to far off places or stay closer to home. You may or may not have the capabilities, the skills, the physical strength to accomplish the activities you decide to undertake. You may or may not have the tools you need to commit to a particular activity or trip. But everything is bright and shiny. The world is your oyster, and the want to consume it, may or may not be significant.

Yet, as we grow older, our desires for the bright and shiny may diminish due to the aging of our physical bodies. Or the needs of our family. Or the requirements of our job. We are governed by a host of external forces that help us define our choices. We may or may not need more services from the tourism system. The umbrella of products that make up a destination tourism product line. Maybe safety and security are an issue, and we want to travel with groups of people that have the same hobbies and interests. We all have different wants and needs, and this will govern choice. Those needs and wants change over the course of our lifetimes.

From infancy to the first maturity point, where we come of age and make our own initial decisions, we are governed by the choices made by our parents. Usually, those choices are contingent upon the wants of children or what the parents may find interesting for the children. Every generation is different.

From my own experience as a child, our travel behavior depended upon the time my parents could take off from teaching responsibilities as well as disposable income. It wasn’t much. Usually, it involved one big trip every few years. Most of the vacations centered around visiting family or friends, and then side trips to local attractions. So, choices depend on what you need, what you want, what you have, and what you don’t have. And are still shaped by internal and external forces.

These choices change over the course of your lifetime. Options you can and cannot control. At that first maturity point, as a tourist, everything is new. You may want the unexplored, the far distant places, but you are still governed by internal and external forces. Your parents, the state of world affairs, economic vitality–resources that you have and don’t have.

Travel during your life will open many doors not only to the world around you but within yourself. You change with each passage out into a new and exciting place. You shift from a limited awareness to greater awareness with each interaction. You progress to different maturity points and understanding of who you are as a person as well as the world in which we live.  You gain resources (information, economic freedom, and promises from the tourism business environment) that can alter your travel your choices.  Travel changes you both internally and externally.  Embrace that change.

Know your limits, listen to your inner voice and what is going on around you. Strengthen your intuition and be open to learning.

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!