Tourism is a recent phenomenon. Even if business travel is included as tourism, as it is in some definitions, it is still of comparatively recent origin. The word tourism did not appear in the English language until the early nineteenth century, and the word tour was more closely associated with the idea of a voyage or peregrination or a circuit, as in the case of a theatrical tour, than with the idea of an individual being temporarily away from home for pleasure purposes which is such a significant feature of the use of the word tourist today.
Three principal epochs of tourism may be distinguished. The first, which is discussed in this chapter, takes the story to the early days of the railway age, that is, to about 1840 in Britain, a little later elsewhere. The second epoch covers the railway age itself. The years between the two world wars, which witnessed the significant development of the private motor car and of teh bus and coach, and the period after the second world war, when civil aviation came to share with the private car the principal transport role in tourism, form together the third epoch.Transport is the necessary pre-condition of tourism, and the three epochs are to be identified with particular modes of transport. For tourism is a matter of being elsewhere, and to be elsewhere implies the use of transport. Mechanized transport has made travel possible for a significant part of the population of the developed countries at least, and thus tourism has become a matter of interest and concern to governments and governed alike. Much of the historical study of tourism will be concerned with the development of modern transport, and other aspects of tourism have followed the evolution of a various modes of transport. Tourism is a modern sense has its antecedents historically, but it will be argued that the difference between the world of the eighteenth century and earlier, and more recent times is not merely a matter of degree, but that the world of 1850, for example, differs structurally from the world of 1750 in tourism, as is everything else.
From : Tourism, Past, Present and Future