8 Types of Tourism You Need to Know

The travel and tourism industry is a major contributor to local economies in many countries. Before the pandemic, the tourism sector accounted for 10.3% of global GDP and is on the way to recovery.

But what are the different forms of tourism? How is each one defined?

In this article, we will look at the 8 main types of tourism and also look at the UNWTO (UN’s World Tourism Organization) classification, which divides tourism into three main categories: domestic, inbound and outbound tourism.

Dive into it.

Three tourism categories

Broadly speaking, according to UNWTO there are three main forms of tourism based on destination and country of departure: domestic tourism, inbound tourism and outbound tourism.

Domestic tourism

Domestic tourism is defined as travel within your country of residence for business or leisure purposes.

It’s usually much easier to organize than international travel, since you don’t need additional paperwork, health tests, and you can just board a domestic flight, bus, or train to your destination. For example, if you live in London and visit Manchester for the weekend, this is domestic tourism.

Language barriers and culture shock are also not a factor in domestic tourism (at least not in most cases), making it less stressful.

Inbound tourism

When you enter another country, it is inbound tourism for the destination country. For example, if you travel to Spain from the United States, this is inbound tourism for Spain.

Inbound tourism is also a form of international tourism. This means that you need to prepare all the necessary documents in advance, as well as take care of additional formalities as needed, such as vaccinations and health checks.

Foreign tourism

In outbound tourism, you travel from your home country to another country. If we take the same example as in the previous section, if you travel from the United States to Spain, this is outbound tourism for the United States, since you are leaving the country.

Outbound tourism is a form of international travel and has its own formal requirements.

Travel agents are familiar with them and can make travel easier – but independent travelers can also take their own initiative and take care of their own paperwork. Many online travel agencies specialize in outbound tourism.

8 types of tourism according to motivation

We can define different types of tourism based on the motivations, goals and needs of travelers. They can be divided into 8 main types of tourism:

Business tourism

Business tourism or business travel is a subset of tourism in which travelers travel to another location (domestic or international) for professional reasons, such as:

  • Meet business partners or prospects
  • Attend an event, conference, or trade show
  • Move to another office location of the same company

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Sometimes, business travelers are extending their trip for leisure or combining the two in what is now known as “Bleisure” (from business and leisure).

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leisure travel

Leisure tourism is a broad category that can encompass many different things: adventure tourism, ecotourism, cultural tourism, urban tourism and more.

Leisure tourism is simply defined as tourism at your leisure, where you relax and experience an environment different from your own.

Local tourist attractions are often a major focus of leisure tourism, although you may very well decide to chill at your resort complex and simply book a bunch of spa treatments, for example.

Food is also a major motivator for many leisure travelers: many tourists visit new destinations to taste authentic local cuisine. Food tourism can be considered a subset of leisure tourism.

Shopping tourism

Who doesn’t love coming back with a suitcase full of exotic items, brand new clothes, or new gadgets?

Shopping tourism is a popular form of travel for people who want to get brands and items not available locally, be it clothes, food, jewelry, souvenirs, electronics, or something completely different.

Fashion tourism is a subset of shopping tourism and top tourist destinations for it include Milan, New York, Paris, London and many other cities.

Cultural tourism

If you are passionate about other cultures, cultural tourism is probably your dream vacation idea, where you can experience other countries’ cultural heritage such as architectural monuments, literature, religion, festivals, theater, music, cuisine and more.

Due to its rich tapestry of history, Europe is a popular destination for cultural tourism, and many European countries see large numbers of tourists each year.

For those who want to travel to experience different cultures, UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites can be a list worth exploring, as it regroups the most significant cultural and natural sites around the world.

Sports tourism

Sports or adventure tourism is another type of leisure tourism that is related to a sporting activity, such as rafting, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, diving, cycling and so on. Package tours can make it easier to engage in sports tourism in remote locations rather than organizing everything yourself.

The preferred position will depend on the sport you want to play. For example, if you’re into diving, you’ll want to look for well-preserved coral reefs and a good selection of diving schools, while if you’re into skiing or mountain biking, your top choices will definitely be mountain locations with ski-lifts or bicycle-friendly roads.

Teams traveling to sporting events use the services of a travel management company like TravelPerk. No need to spend hours searching online for accommodations to fit your entire sports team: let TravelPerk do the work for you. With the largest travel inventory on the market, we can arrange flights, trains, car rentals and accommodations so your team can focus on winning!

On the other hand, sports tourism may be related to travel to watch a major sporting event, such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup.

Rural tourism

Rural tourism is popular with vacationers who need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Generally, it is a form of sustainable tourism where you visit remote, rural areas to experience a simpler lifestyle and a quieter, less polluted environment.

Local people can benefit from rural tourism in various ways, while visitors can engage in various tourism activities, such as hiking, orienteering, hunting, fishing and more.

Mountain tourism

If you love nature, going to the mountains can be the best way to spend your vacation. Mountain tourism is popular among sports enthusiasts, as it offers plenty of opportunities to be active in nature: skiing, hiking and mountain biking are just a few of the many.

Sustainability has become a major consideration in mountain tourism in recent years, as mountains often have fragile ecosystems that cannot withstand large numbers of visitors or mass tourism. The itineraries follow mountain paths and visitors are often not allowed to stray off the path or camp outside designated areas.

Urban tourism

Urban tourism is a form of tourism that is very popular among different demographics, from backpackers to luxury travelers and recent graduates to retirees.

The top urban tourism destinations in 2022 include Paris, Dubai, Amsterdam, Madrid, Rome, London and New York, and attract large numbers of international tourists each year. In the top 100 list compiled by Euromonitor International, Europe is the most represented continent, with 40 of the 100 cities.

Many people travel – but for completely different reasons

People travel for different reasons and in different ways – which means the travel industry needs to adapt to the needs of travellers.

Apart from the ones we have listed, there are many types of tourism such as medical tourism, religious tourism, wellness tourism, dark tourism and more. Broadly speaking, we can consider leisure and business tourism into two main categories based on the motivation of travelers.

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