Travel & Tourism Timeline
The definition of a pilgrimage is, a long journey or search, especially one of exalted purpose or moral significance. Usually a religious pilgrimage is one in which the pilgrim seeks to strengthen or expand their faiths and beliefs. The Christian faith has a long tradition of pilgrimage, the most popular destination for English pilgrims before the reformation was Canterbury Cathedral and its shrine to Thomas Beckett, martyred in 1170, and made famous in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Modern day Christians (particularly Roman Catholics) make pilgrimages to Lourdes, in the belief that the waters are responsible for numerous medical miracles. Of the five million people who visit each year, most are sick or disabled and seeking a cure for their condition.
Globally the most well-known pilgrimage is the Muslim Hajj. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is a religious duty of every able bodied Muslim who can afford to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, at least once in his or her lifetime.
In contrast to a religious pilgrimage a “modern” pilgrimage is no less of a transformative experience but tends not to have organised religion as its motivation. An example of a modern pilgrimage is, visiting ground zero in New York, the site were the world trade towers stood, which attracted five million visitors, who paid their respects to the dead in 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks. It is common to refer to “pilgrimages” to sporting arenas by fans of that team or to visiting the resting places of celebrities and important historical figures, such as Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris the resting place of Jim Morrison or Highgate cemetery in London were Karl Marx is buried.
The Grand Tour
In 17th and 18th century England, children of the wealthy elite received a classical education, which centred around classic languages, Greek and Latin, philosophy and art. At its height (1700 to the late 1800s), the grand tour was considered the best way to round off a gentleman’s education. During their tour wealthy young Englishmen were exposed to the masterpieces of western art along with the ruins of Greek and roman civilisation. A grand tour could take anything from a year to four years, mainly due to the limited transport available to them. The first major stop was usually Paris then onto the great cities of the renaissance, often spending many months in each.
One of the most well-known and well documented grand tours of that period was that of poet Lord Byron, who in 1809 embarked on a journey to the Mediterranean, not the traditional destination for grand tours, but due to the Napoleonic wars Byron was forced to avoid much of mainland Europe. Byron’s conduct whilst on his grand tour typified the negative aspects and opposition to grand tours felt at the time, indulging in scandalous liaisons, gambling and running up huge debts, the phrase “mad, bad and dangerous to know” was coined of Byron during this period. So opposed to grand tours, poet and social commentator of the time Alexander Pope wrote in a poem, led by hand he sauntered Europe round, and gathered every vice on Christian ground.
The 20th century equivalent of the grand tour would be young people spending a gap year traveling. With the raise in youth culture and independent travel a viable option, backpacking rose to prominence in the 1960s, with young people seeking to broaden their horizons and experience other cultures. The introduction in 1972, of the interrail train ticket opened up mainland Europe to a new generation of independent travellers.
Post Industrial Revolution
The industrial revolution was the period between 1760 and 1840 when Britain transformed from a largely agricultural economy into a global manufacturing powerhouse. Along with the major scientific, technological and commercial transformations came the need to link the cities of Britain in a faster and more efficient way. The advent of the railways went some way to bridge that gap, with the introduction of the Lake Lock Rail Road 1798, arguably the world’s first public railway. As a by-product of the industrial revolution the middle and upper classes benefited hugely from the mechanisation of manufacturing, owners of factories, mills and producers of raw materials invested heavily in the infrastructure of Britain to facilitate the free movement of their goods. Engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel were commissioned to oversee huge civil engineering projects such as the Great Western Railway which provided a direct link between the port of Bristol (whose wealthy merchants were keen to protect Bristol’s prominence as a major port) and the City of London.
The rail network in the UK, the oldest in the world, started as a patchwork of locally owned and operated lines, gradually it was amalgamated during the 1900s into a nationally connected network controlled by a handful of companies. During this period seaside fishing villages became fashionable destinations and coastal resorts began to grow, due to the growing numbers of people who could now afford day trips and holidays.
Post War Developments
After the Second World War, Britain was essentially bankrupt and underwent huge social and economic change. The new labour government, elected in 1945, set about a major reformation of Britain’s shattered infrastructure, from railways and road building to air traffic. The period between 1957 to 1963, what is now known as “The Affluent Society” saw huge economic growth and increased disposable income for the people of Britain. Coinciding with the new found prosperity came major technological innovations such as the jet engine.
The invention and subsequent development of the jet engine, along with radical new airframe designs and advancements in electronics led to aircraft capable of performance and durability way beyond that of piston powered aircraft of the pre-war era, and heralded the jet age. First introduced in 1952, the de Havilland Comet the world’s first jet airliner, started offering regular transatlantic services in 1958. The social impact of the jet age mirrors that of the introduction of railways in the 19th century, with the movement of people from all social classes becoming an affordable option. Vladimir Raitz’s Horizon Holiday Group brought package holidays to the mass market in 1950, with charter flights between Gatwick airport and Corsica.
Current Factors Facilitating Growth
Demographic change is one of the biggest factors currently affecting the travel and tourism industry. In the industrialised west the aging population, with greater disposable income, and lower birth rate is having a dramatic effect on the choice, duration and type of holiday operators are offering. In 2010 Age Concern Enterprises, reported a 41% increase in travel insurance sales and a 20% increase for winter sport coverage for the over 65s. Older travellers are increasingly deifying stereotypes and opting for more off the beaten track and adventure based destinations, according to tour operator Dragoman.
Improvements and continuing investment in infrastructure, such as the expansion of regional airports, has had a dramatic effect on growth. The rapid growth in scale and popularity of regional airports can in part be attributed to budget airlines, such as Ryanair and Easyjet, who are attracted by, and benefit from lower costs associated with flying in and out of regional airports, they then in turn pass these savings onto passengers, thus fuelling the demand for low cost air travel.
With the increased use of the internet, where consumers can research, plan and book their holidays online, and the cost, availability and accessibility of regional airports and low cost carriers, one of the biggest growth areas in travel in recent years has been the rise of dynamic packaging, in which travellers are shunning travel agents and package holidays in-favour of putting together their own bespoke holidays.
Possible Future Developments
Environmental impacts of travel and tourism are now one of the most talked about issues facing the industry. Seen in equal measure as both an opportunity and a threat, travel operators are reacting to customer concern for the environment. Airlines produce approximately 2% of greenhouse gasses, and with an estimated one billion people traveling by air in 2010 aircraft manufacturers are introducing greener more fuel efficient aircraft, such as Boeings 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A380. Holidaymakers increasing concern for preserving the culture, heritage and economy of the destinations they visit, and minimising the negative impacts, are fuelling the rise in sustainable and ecotourism.
Maglev trains, short for magnetic levitating trains, use powerful electromagnets to propel the train using opposite attraction to lift and hold the train between 1 and 10 cm above the track. Due to the lack of friction maglev trains are able to travel at speeds of over 300mph, making them, developers believe, a viable option for connecting cities up to 1000 miles apart. This means a trip from Paris to Rome would take just two hours, with a fraction of the greenhouse emissions an aircraft would produce over a similar distance. China and Germany have both invested heavily in maglev trains and both have working, small scale, maglev trains in operation with the American Maglev Company currently building a prototype