Tourism refers to travelling for purposes such as leisure, sightseeing and recreation. It even includes trips that are made with the intention to meet family, pursue business activities or for religious reasons. If a person stays at the tourist destination for only a short period of time (maximum until a year) then such an excursion counts as tourism. Such activities result in a number of benefits for both the tourist and the host destination.
The tourism industry encompasses many different industries and incorporates various businesses. Hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies, tour-organizing companies, souvenir stores, and many other service providers all enjoy the benefit of increased profits during the tourist season. An additional outcome of tourist activity in any country is an increase in employment opportunities in each of the aforementioned sectors.
The income generated from tourist activities can be tremendously beneficial to the host country and its local communities. Tourism is also vital for many countries due to the taxes levied on businesses in the tourism industry. The government should direct the additional income generated and the tax revenues collected from such activities towards the betterment of education, improvement of infrastructure, funding of conservation efforts, and towards further promotion of tourism.
In many countries the introduction and development of tourism gives local people an opportunity for economic and educational growth that would not otherwise be available. In addition, it gives both the tourist and the local community a chance to experience other cultures, which broadens understanding and promotes healthy interpersonal ties between people from different countries. This promotes globalization, as well.
Being a service industry, there are many tangible and intangible elements of this sector. The most important tangible elements include components of a hospitality industry such as transportation and accommodation. Intangible elements relate to the tourist and his reason or motivation to travel, such as for leisure or relaxation, to gain exposure to other cultures and meet new people from different cultural backgrounds. These intangible elements count as the benefits of tourism for the tourist.
The tourist also gets the opportunity to increase his level of awareness about the world. Travelling teaches an individual a lot more than what he/she could ever learn from books or from formal education. A traveler learns skills that are important for practical life. The experiences and exposures of international travel make him/her more open minded as well. Moreover, a traveler may end up learning how to speak another language.
Since tourism has such wide-ranging benefits and has a positive impact on both the tourist and the host country, NGOs and government agencies sometimes promote a specific region as a tourist destination, specifically to support the economic development and growth of that area.
However, at a personal level, one should be cautious when travelling internationally and also in their home country when associating with tourists from other countries because many contagious diseases are being spread from one region to the other because of international travel. At a government level, and with respect to security agencies, it is necessary to ensure tight security and enforce strict visa policies so as to prevent the influx of terrorist elements under the pretext of tourism. This said, tourism is indeed a healthy activity.