Updated: Mar 17
The majority of people associates tourism with the simple concepts of travelling and sleeping in a hotel, which is clearly reductive to someone that studied deeper this field.
The most interesting thing about tourism is its extreme COMPLEXITY that makes it even harder to find a satisfying definition. Now, just think for a moment about your last trip and you will immediately realise the incredible amount of actors, companies, structures and activities involved in tourism.
Tourism means first of all people and this is the reason why it’s fundamental to analyse the evolutions, trends and costumes of the society in order to understand it properly.
Originally, RELIGION was the main purpose of voluntary mobilities with pilgrims reaching Santiago De Compostela and La Mecca. The XVII century, instead, was The GRAND TOUR era, characterised by educationally-based travels in the main European capitals as Rome, Paris and London. Travellers were mainly young wealthy members of the aristocracy.
MASSIFICATION, travelling democracy, holidays resorts and travel packages are key words for a new era that marked the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX.
And what about now?
You must have noticed that we live in an Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore 1998) where the product in itself is not the priority anymore. Nowadays, what we want to buy is EXPERIENCES.
This is why we can talk about Experiential Tourism as a new way of travelling based on the willingness of leaving a 360-degree-experience once abroad. And of course, the tourism offer had to be adapted with the creation of activities that require the implication of the 5 senses, a fascinating storytelling, the surprise component and a fundamental role of the human presence in the service delivery.
Wine tastings in Tuscany, food tours to discover Spanish gastronomy, helicopter ride over New York’s skyscrapers, Vespa or Beetle tours along the Duoro Valley, cooking classes with locals and Harry Potter excursions in London are just a few examples.
Which are the main Pillars of Experiential Tourism?
Authenticity is subjective, it has a different meaning for each of us. Don‘t let the others tell you what’s authentic and what's not through artificially built imaginaries. You will find your own authenticity only by looking into the destination intensively and living it through your emotions.
Who knows the destination better than its inhabitants? Let them guide you through the discovery of their world, their culture and traditions. Ask for the best restaurant, their favorite wine, the most peaceful park, ask them about their hobbies, their stories...
Feel the spirit of the destination in its streets and people. Listen to what your heart and soul are feeling when you create an empathy with a new place, so distant from home, from your daily life.
Follow your instincts and envies, catch the details that characterise the destination.
Don’t settle for what’s written in a travel guide, don’t stop to stereotypes. Be curious, ask, wonder, get your own idea of the place.
Find your own travel rhythm that allows you to feel free. Place your precious time where it’s worth it for you.
It’s not only a simple visit of the destination. Experiential Tourism also means being aware of the history and the political situation of the place, its environmental preservation, the problems in the society and its role in the international trade and economy.
Most of the time the experience is simple, no need of complexity, of pompous decorations or rushing guided tours. Simple ingredients, a fresh beer in park to enjoy a magic sunset, riding a bike along a river, a picnic on a lake, a delicious meal in a local tavern.
The world experience refers to the process that comes before the apprentice. Every journey adds a new precious piece to the puzzle of your knowledge treasure and makes you a wiser person.
Trying is the key word. Get out of your comfort zone and your routine, approach diversity with curious eyes to create memories that you will never forget.