Approaches to Tourism

  • Post last modified:1 November 2021
  • Reading time:10 mins read

What are the Approaches to Tourism?

Tourism commonly is approached through a variety of methods. However, there is little or no agreement on how the study of tourism should be undertaken.

10 Approaches to Tourism

The following are several methods that have been used. Let us discuss each approach of learning tourism and its significance below.

Institutional Approach

The institutional approach to the study of tourism considers the various intermediaries and institutions that perform tourism activities. It emphasizes institutions such as the travel agency.

This approach requires an investigation of the organization, operating methods, problems, costs, and economic place of travel agents who acts on behalf of the customer, purchasing services from airlines, rental car companies, hotels, and so on.

Product Approach

The product approach involves the study of various tourism products and how they are produced, marketed, and consumed. For example, one might study an airline seat – how it is created, the people who are engaged in buying and selling it, how it is financed, how it is advertised, and so on.

Repeating this procedure for rental cars, hotel rooms, meals, and other tourist services gives a full picture of the field. Unfortunately, the product approach tends to be too time-consuming, it does not allow the student to grasp the fundamentals of tourism quickly.

Historical Approach

The historical approach is not widely used. It involves an analysis of tourism activities and institutions from an evolutionary angle. It searches for the cause of innovations, their growth or decline, and shifts in interest.

Any discipline of study will be having a history that can narrate the evolution of the study of that discipline. No sector is evolved all of a sudden. There is an approach to look at the details of a social or economic sector through analysing the evolutionary stages and the transformation.

Such a kind of approach is usually referred to as a historical approach and is applied while learning many disciplines.

Managerial Approach

The managerial approach is firmly oriented (microeconomic), focusing on the management activities necessary to operate a tourist enterprise, such as planning, research, pricing, advertising, control, and the like. It is a popular approach, using insights gleaned from other approaches and disciplines.

Regardless of which approach is used to study tourism, it is important to know the managerial approach. Products change, institutions change, society changes, this means that managerial objectives and procedures must be geared to change to meet shifts in the tourism environment.

The Journal of Travel Research and Tourism Management, leading journals in the field, both feature this approach.

Economic Approach

Because of its importance to both domestic and world economics, tourism has been examined closely by economists, who focus on supply, demand, the balance of payments, foreign exchange, employment, expenditures, development, multipliers, and other economic factors.

This approach is useful in providing a framework for analysing tourism and its contributions to a country’s economy and economic development. The disadvantage of the economic approach is that whereas tourism is an important economic phenomenon, it has noneconomic impacts as well.

The economic approach does not usually pay adequate attention to the environmental, cultural, psychological, sociological, and anthropological approaches.

Sociological Approach

Tourism tends to be a social activity. Consequently, it has attracted the attention of sociologists, who have studied the tourism behaviour of individuals and groups of people and the impact of tourism on society. This approach examines the social classes, habits, and customs of both hosts and guests.

The sociology of leisure is a relatively undeveloped field, but it shows promise of progressing rapidly and becoming more widely used. As tourism continues to make a massive impact on society, it will be studied more and more from a social point of view.

Geographical Approach

Geography is a wide-ranging discipline, so it is natural that geographers should be interested in tourism and its spatial aspects. The geographer specializes in the study of the location, environment, climate, landscape, and economic aspects.

The geographer’s approach to tourism sheds light on the location of tourist areas, the movements of people created by tourism locales, the changes that tourism brings to the landscape in the form of tourism facilities, dispersion of tourism development, physical planning, and economic, social, and cultural problems.

Since tourism touches geography at so many points, geographers have investigated the area more thoroughly than have scholars in many other disciplines. Because the geographers’ approach is so encompassing in dealing with land use, economic aspects, demographic impacts, and cultural problems, a study of their contributions is highly recommended.

Interdisciplinary Approaches

Tourism embraces virtually all aspects of our society. We even have cultural tourism, which calls for an anthropological approach. Because people behave in different ways and travel for different reasons, it is necessary to use a psychological approach to determine the best way to promote and market tourism products.

Since tourists cross borders and require passports and visas from government offices, and since most countries have government-operated tourism development departments, we find that political institutions are involved and are calling for a political science approach.

Any industry that becomes an economic giant affecting the lives of many people attracts the attention of legislative bodies (along with that of the sociologists, geographers, economists, and anthropologists,) which create the laws, regulations, and legal environment in which the tourist industry must operate, so we also have legal approach.

The great importance of transportation suggests passenger transportation as another approach. The fact simply is that tourism is so vast, so complex, and so multifaceted that it is necessary to have a number of approaches to studying the field, each geared to a somewhat different task or objective.

Systems Approach

What is really needed to study tourism is a systems approach. A system is a set of interrelated groups coordinated to form a unified whole and organized to accomplish a set of goals. It integrates the other approaches into a comprehensive method dealing with both micro and macro issues.

It can examine the tourist firm’s competitive environment, its market, its results, its linkages with other institutions, the consumer, and the interaction of the firm with the consumer. In addition, a system can take a macro viewpoint and examine the entire tourism system of a country, state, or area and how it operates within and relates to other systems, such as legal, political, economic, and social systems.

Cost Benefit and Environmental Approaches

The ‘benefits’ of investment or development is compared with the ‘costs’ involved in the whole process. The benefits of tourism, its planning or development are summed up and then the costs associated with those actions are subtracted to learn about tourism from a critical perspective.

The costs may involve the capital invested, impacts being generated, etc. This approach is good to understand tourism as a phenomenon worth developing or not in particular places or regions.

In the case of the environmental approach, the role of tourism is interpreted from an environmental perspective. Environment and tourism do share critical relationships and up to a certain limit, they share a symbiotic relationship, which can turn detrimental after a threshold limit of development, etc.

In this approach, the role of the environment in tourism and the aspects associated with it are dealt with in detail. Moreover, the far-reaching consequences are analysed as well. Haphazardtourism development can cause severe imbalances and impacts on nature its ecosystem, and these aspects are gaining increased significance in the learning of tourism.


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