European Social and Cultural Recent Events in Tourism Essay

Discuss the impact of social and cultural change on the current European Tourism and/or Hospitality industry “Tourism is the activity of people travelling to and staying in places outside of their usual environment for not more than one than consecutive year for leisure, for business and other purposes “(Youell 1998). It is about people travelling internationally to experience different cultures. According to the UNSRID (2001) there were 567m such travelers in 1995.

Therefore any social or cultural chances will have an impact on the Tourism and Hospitality Industry [T/H].This essay will focus on the tourism Industry within a European context, but it will refer in some cases to specific countries. It shall consider how the economic growth of the 50s influenced European society and led the development of tourism as a social activity, within become an integral part of the lifestyles in northern Europe and later extended to the southern countries. This essay will consider how the modern European culture is changing, referring to sources that will highlight its lifestyle and trends. It will analyze the effects of the current demographic changes and the feminization of the society.Finally, the above mentioned will enable the essay to demonstrate the social and cultural changes occurring in Europe and the effects that those are having on the Tourism Industry and the services that it produces. Travel for leisure in Western Europe began from a minority of privileged classes centuries ago and has developed to a mass participation of people in the post-war era.

“In 1950 there were approximately 25 million international tourists, a figure which had risen to 616 million in 1997” (Sharpley 1994). This phenomenon was remarkably rapid and has been possible thanks to the economic reforms that followed the 2nd World War.In U.

K. the Labour party introduced a massive “reconstruction” program under the supervision of Keynes, an economic adviser. He believed that the way out of the post-war recession was through state investment in transport and public services.

Furthermore the mechanization of the manufacturing industry with the Fordist production techniques offered to an increasing number of people the opportunity to work. The “mass worker” was awarded with high wages and had more disposable income to spend. This was the so-called “golden age” (Shaeply 1994).This redistribution of income, the entitlement of free time with the introduction of paid holidays in Britain and later in Europe and the progress in transport with the growth of car ownership and air travel are the main factors that opened the European society to the spectrum of mass consumption and indeed mass tourism. In the 50s and 60s an increasing number of people in middle Europe were affected by urbanization, which had a negative effect on the environment in which they lived. Holidays were seen as time for relaxing and escaping from it all.As a result there was huge growth in seaside resorts in many Mediterranean countries, especially Spain which saw a growth from 0. 7m visitors in 1950 to 24.

1m in 1970 (Pompl 1993). However the times of mass package holidays to seaside resorts for people looking for a total leisure experience are now coming to an end. Tourists and indeed Tourism have changed and an increasing number of people are now interested in more adventurous, exotic and active holidays and the Tourism Industry needs to develop in order to satisfy these customers’ expectations.The tourist needs have change during the last 50 years because the societies themselves have changed and the tourism industry needs to identify its customers and the factors that affect their behavior in order to be successful.

The European society is changing in many ways; for the purpose of this essay it will consider 3 key factors, demographic aspects, family structure and the role of women in today’s society. The number of people over 65 has increased dramatically. In Italy for example this age group has increased from 13,7m in 1982 to 19,1m in 2000 (Franecese 1998).Conversely, the birth rate has fallen.

In many cases unemployment is the cause of this problem and has dissuaded many young couples from having children. Franecese (1998) referred to this trend as a “Demographic disaster looming for Europe”. The post WW II baby boomer will be the most important market segment in the next few years.

Senior citizens will have a vital role not only for the increasing number of retired people taking a holiday but also for their spending power that is often higher than other age categories.The family structure has had some incredible changes during the last 4 decades. The family structure has had some incredible changes during the last 4 decades. The proportion of married couples with dependent children in the U. K. fell from 52% in 1961 to 40% in 1992 with a large increase in single person (11%) and single-parents (10%) households (Morgan 1996). The loners (pre-family or empty-nesters) are a growing segment and are extremely important for the Tourism Industry because of their spending power and for their tendency to spend (Jones 1993).

Another important issue is the increasing number of working woman. In the U. K. , three out of four women work (Morgan 1996). This change in the role of woman in today’s society is the consequence of the feminist ideals that followed WW II and the equal opportunity laws that have been introduced. The major impact of those changes in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry are visible by the increasing participation of women in leisure activities from gym-13.

5m took part in fitness activities in 1993-(Morgan 1996), to pubs-female visitors increased by 6% between 1990 and 1994-(Whitbread 1995).According to the New Oxford Dictionary (1998) culture is the relation of ideas, customs, and social behavior of a society. Albbeit it could be proved that a society has cultural diversity itself and every individual has its own values, attitude, behavior and interests.

Throughout history European society has seen many changes in fashion and trends. Nowadays some of the most common lifestyle trends are the consciousness for health and security, greater informality and spontaneity, individualism, adventure, environmental issues and so forth (Morgan 1996, Jones 1993, Martin 1993).In-dept analysis of those trends and their significance for Tourism and Hospitality Industry are worthwhile. Concerns about health and security are extremely important. An example is the percentage drop of male smokers from 52% in 1972 to 31 % in 1990 (Morgan 1996). The awareness of the danger of exposure to UV Rays has resulted in a reduction of beach holidays.

The need for security especially at work reflects the introduction of laws like COSHH regulations and H&S at work Act 1974. In addition to that, in September 11, 2001 terrorists hijacked four U. S. ommercial airlines and deliberately crashed three of them into significant U. S. A infrastructures including the World Trade Center’s Twin towers.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Tourism Industry is reeling. Airline travel and hotel stays have plummeted worldwide. Industry revenues, profits, and stock values are all down. Industry workers are being laid off in large numbers simply put: Many more people than before have an understandable fear of flying.

Others have lost all patience with travel delays and disruptions that were already a nuisance before the tragedy, and they are opting to stay home.AlsoTerrorist attacks inUK Thousands of tours and hotel accommodations around the world the from Egypt to Las Vegas to Australia have been canceled. Ironically, the WTO had recently published a report entitled:”Tourism: 2020 Vision”. This report appraised the future of the WTO industry in the twenty-first century and forecast sustained growth for the next two decades. The annual growth rate for tourist arrivals was 4.

3% and the anticipated annual growth rate for international tourism receipts was 6. 7%. According to the WTO’s forecast, about 1. billion tourists would visit foreign countries annually by the year 2020, spending approximately US$2 trillion per year or US$5 billion daily.

The evident growth of “Green” movement’s means that many more people are concerned about the environment in which they live, what they consume and the destinations for their holidays. A new trend which is to be focused carefully by the Tourism Hospitality Industry operators is also the increasing demand for quality service, especially from senior citizens as well as the increasing request for exotic locations, active and adventurous experiences.In conclusion, those changes in consumer behavior and as a consequence consumer demands means that the Industry will need to be aware of those new trends to try to satisfy what Jones (1993).

The successful operator for this new and extremely demanding tourist will need to develop a market orientated policy in order to understand their needs and wants and offer a product that meets their expectations. Therefore the European Travel Industry will need to be well aware of the “new customers” expectations if it wants to continue leading the world’s tourism market in the future.And operators should introduce new technologies that can improve the service offered and will enhance the tourist experience.

This essay has shown how the tourist demand within a European context has changed during the last 50 years. The ageing of the European population and the changing in household structure lifestyle that are occurring amongst Europe have influenced the consumer behavior and attitude towards holidays and leisure time.Holidays are not seen as a total leisure time anymore and the European Travel Industry is trying to change towards those new trends in order to be competitive. The introduction of new technologies to enhance the tourist experiences and the relationship with the customers will be the key words for the future. Bibliography Baum, T. (1996). Images of Tourism past and present, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 8(4), 25-30 Davidson, R (1998). Travel and Tourism in Europe, 2nd Ed.

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