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What is social tourism?

What is social tourism?
Hello, my name’s Scott McCabe and I’m professor of Marketing and Tourism at Nottingham University, Business School in the United Kingdom. I’m here today to talk to you about research and practice on social tourism. What is social tourism? Social tourism concerns inclusion in tourism for all members of society. It’s related to other concepts, including tourism for all. We often think about tourism for all as being about people who have disabilities being included in tourism, because people who have disabilities maybe have some constraints to being able to participate in tourism. Social tourism is related to tourism for all, but it’s a distinct category in itself.
Social tourism recognizes that there are inequalities in access to leisure travel opportunities for all members of a society. That means that in each society, whether it’s a rich country or a poor country, there are some people who are more or less able to participate in tourism opportunities. Many people experience constraints to travel. The most important factor, though, is a lack of available resources to be able to participate. That means that people just do not have the available financial means to be able to afford a holiday. And that’s really related to poverty.
So what’s the background to the development of social tourism? Well, the first thing to realize is that it’s not a new concept. It’s been around since the very early days of tourism development. In fact, Thomas Cook’s very first tours could be defined as social tourism, because the trips were motivated by a social imperative and were cheap enough for everybody to be able to afford to participate. These were just local trips around my local area in the east midlands in the UK. So this is where Thomas Cook came from. And Thomas Cook was really concerned to be able to allow people to escape from the cities and to experience the countryside or somewhere different.
So, it’s not a new concept at all. Higgins-Desbiolles (1996) has contrasted the features of the tourism industry to those features that are characterized as tourism as a social force. The industry perspective is characterized by industrial processes of tourism, mass tourism development, private sector interests, and a marketized system for tourism. But we can also think about tourism as a social force, which is different in that it’s driven by social needs and concerns, social welfare and social justice. And it seeks to try and ensure the benefits of tourism are distributed very widely and include benefits to the environment, So, What’s the background of the development of social tourism?
Well, we can trace it back to the second half of the nineteenth century, just at the beginnings of the mass tourism movement and the emergence of the industrialization process in the United Kingdom and in other western European countries. We can see that there are sport and health initiatives to try to improve health for those people who were living in cities. And then, of course, there are the youth movements and holiday camps that emerged around the turn of the twentieth century. In the 1930s, there was the introduction of paid holidays through the international labor organization, agreeing the holiday with pay convention. This entitled workers for free time away from work.
And then, of course, in 1948, we had the declaration of human rights, which it really entitled people to rest and leisure from work, and also freedom of movement. And then after the 1950s, we had organizations, such as the International Social Tourism Organization which emerged from the French speaking countries of Belgium and France, initially as the Bureau International de Tourism Social which emerged to try to promote the rights of everybody to access a holiday. So how do we define then social tourism? There are many different definitions of social tourism originated in the French language.
So Haulot first describe social tourism the relationships and phenomena in the field of tourism, resulting from participation in travel by economically weak or otherwise disadvantaged elements in society By elements, he meant people of course. And then, there are many different definitions subsequently of social tourism. And the latest it’s developed in this book
That was edited by myself and Diekmann, Minnaert, called Social Tourism in Europe: Theory and Practice Here, we describe all the activities, relationships and phenomena in the field of tourism resulting from the inclusion of otherwise disadvantaged and excluded groups in participation in tourism. And what we say here is that the inclusion of these groups in tourism is made possible through financial or other interventions of a well defined social nature. This means really that social tourism can be differentiated from other forms of tourism, because it involves some type of intervention, whether that is a subsidy to allow people to participate, or additional information or other types of access requirements. So this makes social tourism very different from other forms of tourism.
So, who is affected by poverty and social exclusion? Well, there’s a range of groups that are often affected. Regardless of what country we’re talking about, because social exclusion and material deprivation, a common among some certain types of groups. First of all, we have families on low incomes. So, these are families that are living on really small amounts of money that don’t have much disposable income. And when you’re poor, the first thing that gets cut from your household budget are discretionary items, like a holiday. Then there are families living with a disabled member or more than one disabled member. Research has shown that families where there’s a disabled member are much more likely to be poor and on low incomes.
And then, of course, there are single parent families. Single parent families, this is where there’s been a family breakdown. And one adult is looking after the children in the family. This means that they’re much more likely to be a living on low incomes as well. Then, of course, there are older people. As growing older, people become more susceptible to having an impairment of some sort. So, older people are more likely to be poor and living with some sort of disability which might affect their ability to get around. And then, there are children living on low income households.
So they relate to these other families on low incomes or single parent families or the socially isolated people, People, maybe, who are living in very small communities and rural areas that don’t have access to all of the services that we are used to in the cities. And then, of course, there are people with reduced mobility, not necessarily just an impairment or disability, but have other ways that they find it difficult to get around. So that brings to the end of our section on the definitions of social tourism.

In this video, professor Scott McCabe will introduce the definition and development history of social tourism.

We would like to invite you to share some thoughts about social tourism in the comments section below. Any comments from you will be helpful.

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Research Methods in Tourism Studies

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