In my previous post, I discussed why we study tourism goods and services, and as I sat at home last night, began to wonder, if I should not talk about my other classes, and their purpose.
Why study tourism, development of tourist attractions, and international meeting planning?
Why study the history of tourism as well as its impacts? Why dive deep into the nuances of our industry? Because this is a fact of our lives.
Tourism is one of the oldest industries on the planet. It changes and morphs, evolves with the changes to society. It even pushes society to change given the innovation of technology. Even dictating to other industries to innovate for us. (Think cell phones people. If it wasn’t for Gene Roddenberry and his idea for a Star Trek communicator, we would have our little SMART devices nor could we make reservations on them.) So tourism is interwoven into our lives, into our DNA. We all need and want the process, the action, and the function of tourism, because we want to have a rich and fulfilling lives.
Over winter break I returned home to Pennsylvania to see my parents and give Mom a break for taking care of my father. While home, I dug out Dad’s old cases of slides that he has accumulated from his 86 years on this planet. I found some early slides of our family vacations. One I vaguely remember due to my age was the trip we made through Pennsylvania, upper state New York, and over the border to Montreal for the Montreal Expo and World’s Fair.
As I copied the slides, I tried to recall this moment in my life. The memories are vague shapes and snippets of images. Visions lost in the mists of my mind’s eye. I can recall nothing of the drive, nothing of the moments in Fort Ticonderoga, nothing of the beautiful scenery. I can see a bit of Niagara Falls, because of those darn rain coats we had to wear and the spray from the falling water. A picnic of Kentucky Fried Chicken on our hotel room floor. Our family had never encountered that before, and my sister begged for a picnic. That’s it, nothing more.
But my Dad’s slides were evidence of our family outings in the time span of our lives together.
Time is a variable associated with the definition of tourism. Questions surrounding time should be asked to understand needs and wants, to design experiences and fulfill expectations. Time cannot be discounted in the evolution of our industry.
Yes, Swissaire Motelodge still exists, but the Swissaire brand went out of business in the 1980s. That doesn’t seem like that long ago, but its over 30 some years. Wow, 1967 to 2017 is a fifty year span, and the motel of my youth is still there. Still in existence but with a different name. The Brookside Motor Inn. The only amenity missing is the above ground pool in the parking lot.
So, back to my original reason for this post. Why study these particular subjects?
Tourism is a business and like any other we need to know how it evolved. We need to examine the footprint in a historical context as well as today. We need to understand the impact, both positive and negative, to understand what to do now, and in the future. We need to learn from the past so mistakes can be learned from, and its lessons utilized today and tomorrow.
We need to understand the value in all its varied forms. The quantifiable and the qualitative essence. For a better analogy, it is a machine, and if we don’t know how it works, how to take care of it, and sustain it for today and tomorrow, we will perish. Our product life cycle will come to an end, and the ramifications for all parties are huge. Loss of revenues for not only the business but the host community. Loss of jobs, loss of incomes, loss…and that loss will multiply across other industries. Demonstrating the inter-connectedness that tourism has within the fabric of our lives.
So that is why we study it.