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Wealthy people have always traveled to distant parts of the world, to see great buildings, works of art, learn new languages, and experience new cultures, and to taste different cuisines. There has been an up-trend in tourism over the last few decades and now national or international travel for short breaks is very common. Tourists have a wide range of budgets and tastes, and a wide variety of resorts and hotels have been developed to cater for them.

While all-embracing definitions of tourism and the tourist are desirable; in practice, tourists represent a heterogeneous, not a homogeneous, group with different personalities, demographics, and experiences. We can classify tourists in four basic ways which relate to the nature of their trip:

Domestic & International Tourists

A basic distinction can be made between domestic and international tourists, although this distinction is blurring in many parts of the world (for example, in the European Union). Domestic tourism refers to travel by residents within their country of residence. There are rarely currency, language, or visa implications, and domestic tourism is more difficult to measure than international tourism. As a consequence, domestic tourism has received little attention. In contrast, international tourism involves travel outside the country of residence and there may well be a currency, language, and visa implications.

Based on Travel Arrangements

The type of travel arrangements purchased, such as:

  • An inclusive tour where two or more components of the trip are purchased together and one price is paid;
  • Independent travel arrangements where the traveler purchases the various elements of the trip separately
  • Tailor-made travel, which is a combination of the two and increasingly common due to the use of the Internet to purchase travel
  • Distance traveled, which is used to make the distinction between long-haul tourism (generally taken to mean travel over a distance of at least 3000 kilometers), and short-haul or medium-haul tourism (involving shorter journeys). This is important in terms of marketing and aircraft operations (and has implications for carbon emissions)

Purpose of Visit

Tourists can also be classified by the ‘purpose of visit category’. Not only are these categories used for statistical purposes, but they are also useful for the marketing of tourism. The terms tourism and travel are generally used interchangeably. However travel has a similar definition to tourism, but implies a more purposeful journey. So the travel could be done for leisure or to accomplish any specific purpose like IT professional travelling onsite to meet customer on his project. Hence “Tourists” can be classified conventionally into the following three categories:

1. Leisure and recreation

This includes holidays, sports and cultural tourism, and visiting friends and relatives. These people travel for pleasure. Lately the leisure tourism has emerged strongly owing to changes in lifestyle; consumption pattern of people, growing leisure needs to de stress and rejuvenates. Leisure travel may be done for holidays, sports, education projects, school trips, family outings, weekend gateways etc.

2. Other tourism purposes

This includes the study and health tourism. While the tourist visa will not allow the holder to join a course of study, the holder of a student visa can travel the country and enjoy the sightseeing and meeting. Educational tourism is developed because of the growing popularity of teaching and learning of knowledge and the enhancing of technical competency outside of the classroom environment. In educational tourism, the main focus of the tour or leisure activity includes visiting another country to learn about the culture, study tours, or to work and apply skills learned inside the classroom in a different environment, such as in the International Practicum Training Program. Health tourism is a wider term for travel that focuses on medical treatments and the use of healthcare services. It covers a wide field of health-oriented tourism ranging from preventive and health-conductive treatment to rehabilitation and curative forms of travel. Wellness tourism is a related field.

3. Business and professional

This includes meetings, conferences, missions, incentives, and business tourism. These people travel to meet their work-related needs like to attend business conventions, meetings, conferences or to meet any purpose which is incidental to the work requirements. Business tourism involves traveling to a destination away from home or a normal workplace. It is a type of travel for professional purposes rather than personal. Some types of business tourism are incentive travel, exhibitions & trade fairs, conferences & meetings, and corporate events.


There are many other ways to classify tourists. These range from simple demographic and trip classifications, through to their lifestyles and personalities, to their perception of risk and familiarity and postmodern interpretations of consumers and commodities. However, one approach with increasing relevance to contemporary tourism is to classify tourists according to their level and type of interaction with the destination. We can also distinguish many types of tourism as heritage, cultural, urban, rural, eco- and nature-based tourism.

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