Burdened by unfriendly skies and dangerous hikes, our ancestors travelled for one reason and one reason only: to get from A to B. Even after man learnt how to train and ride horses as a mode of transport, going the distance was still unsafe, impractical and time-consuming.
But now, with unlimited access to transport on, under and above land and sea, travel has become more accessible and popular amongst most of the world’s population. Representing 9.8% of global GDP, travel and tourism contributed a mammoth $7.2 trillion to world GDP in 2015.
Countless developments, including the telephone, e-mail and both domestic and international postal systems have reduced the need to travel, which makes us wonder what influences the trillion-dollar industry that we know today…
The Surveillance Society
We live in a world that is constantly under surveillance. What was once a practical means of getting from one destination to another is now more of a personality trait – a way of showing the world who we are with the things we like to do and see.
Mass communication and the media, both of which were not around when man started travelling, created the surveillance society. When we’re not trying to impress thousands of social media followers (the majority of whom we don’t know) with a carefully constructed beach pic, we’re worrying that mum, dad and the rest of the UK are watching us on an episode of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents.
Constant scrutiny and the need to appear unique can affect our travel decisions. If it isn’t Instagram-worthy, what’s the point of going, right?
Luckily, our planet is Instagram-worthy and there are plenty of sights to see. Earth is rich with natural wonders, including Ayres Rock, the Grand Canyon and the Northern Lights. Often harder to get to and with less to do nearby, natural attractions are still commercial but some of the most popular tourist attractions are the contribution of great men and women.
According to Love Home Swap, the world’s most visited tourist attractions are mostly man-made. In the 1990’s, Dubai was nothing more than a strip of desert that received very few visitors. Today, its skies brim with tall buildings, fancy hotels and some of the biggest shopping centres in the world, attracting more and more tourists each year.
Moreover, many man-made attractions are sought out because they are more well-known than a lot of natural attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, Rome’s Colosseum, Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue and the Taj Mahal.
Feeding the Bug
Marketers know that the travel bug must be fed, and even the restaurant industry have started using it to their advantage. By serving up bizarre menu’s and getting creative with presentation, food has become a key factor in choosing a travel destination.
Movies and television regularly promote food tourism. Reality television series Man v. Food, for example, shows host Adam Richman travelling from joint to joint, stuffing his face with 10-man portions of regional dishes. It’s sounds gross, but we’ll be the first to admit that we’ve enquired whether the restaurants Richman dines at deliver internationally.
Don’t even get us started on Samuel L Jackson’s Big Kahuna burger in Pulp Fiction.
Like birds, it’s in our nature to move around from one place to another, but there’s no denying that tourism has changed from what it once was. Using our basic human instincts, man created a multi-trillion-dollar industry that we’re all guilty of funding… but we’re not complaining!