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The prosperous middle classes increasingly disposed of discretionary income, which enabled them to bear the costs of traveling, while the introduction of social benefits, such as paid vacations, enabled ever broader social strata to travel.The introduction by Cook, in 1841, of the package tour, was followed by other innovations in the organization of travel, such as the formation of travel companies and touring agencies, airlines, and hotel chains, which made traveling fast and easy, even for people with limited cultural capital.
It can be considered demographi-cally, as the flow of temporary leisure migration across international boundaries (international tourism) or within the boundaries of a given country (domestic tourism).
It can be thought of institutionally, as the system of enterprises (airlines, travel companies, touring agencies, hotels, resorts, guest houses, souvenir shops, restaurants, theme parks, and so on) and organizations (travel associations, local and national tourist authorities, and international tourist organizations) that process and serve that flow.
More recently, rather than seeking alternatives to the industry, environmentalists and other concerned individuals have sought to collaborate with the industry to ascertain the sustainability of tourism development projects.
They thus hope to prevent the environmental and social ravages that unconcerned and often speculative developments wrought in sensitive sites in the past.
The great majority of international border crossings remain concentrated in Europe, a phenomenon ensuing partly from the relatively large number and small size of European countries.
Six European countries are among the ten leading global destinations.Sociologists have been slow in realizing the growing significance of tourism.Early commentators tended to disparage rather than analyze the phenomenon.In reaction to the problematic consequences of the hegemonic tourist industry, various kinds of “alternative tourisms” have emerged, such as “green” tourism, eco-tourism, low-impact tourism, and “countercultural” tourism, the latter espoused in the ideology—but not necessarily in the practice—of contemporary backpackers.Most of these alternative tourisms, however, have been eventually absorbed by the tourist industry, which has adapted its services to the particular needs and preferences of alternative tourists.It has also generated undesirable and sometimes destructive environmental, social, and cultural consequences in popular destinations, which threaten the sustainability of local tourist industries.Small countries, particularly island states, in which tourism became the dominant industry while other sectors of the economy remained underdeveloped, are often utterly dependent on tourism, and thus often exposed to financial risks created by far-away political and economic crises.Once its study was initiated, the principal issue of concern became the relationship between tourism and modernity (and, later on, post-modernity).Dean Mac Cannell (1973) proposed a distinctly sociological perspective on tourism, by conceiving of the tourist as a modern individual who, alienated from his own society, travels in quest of authentic experiences in other places and other times—in pristine nature, unspoiled, simple communities, or the traces of great civilizations of the past.France tops the list, with about 70 million visitors a year.As of 2006 global tourism is growing at about 4 percent annually, but the rate of its expansion to non-Western destinations is significantly higher than it is in the old European core.