The different types of Tourism according to Cohen, UNWTO, motivation and type - Hotelmize (2023)

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The Tourism industry has a direct impact on the global economy. In 2019 alone, 1.4 billion international arrivals were recorded, which is equivalent to one-fifth of the world’s population.

Due to the number of components that play an active role in tourism, there are an infinite number of criteria that can be used to classify it. In this article we will share what we consider to be the most significant of these criteria.


Types of Tourism according to the UNWTO

The World Tourism Organization defines three basic types of tourism in its glossary:

  • Domestic Tourism: these are the activities carried out by a person within their country of residence as part of a touristic trip.
  • Inbound Tourism: carried out by a non-resident tourist in the destination as part of a touristic trip.
  • Outbound Tourism: tourism activities undertaken outside the country of residence.

These types can be combined with each other to give rise to other categories:

  • Internal Tourism: combines domestic and inbound tourism, as it encompasses the activities that both foreigners and nationals undertake within the borders of a country.
  • National Tourism: Combines domestic and outbound tourism, as it involves trips made by residents of the same country both within and outside its borders.
  • International Tourism: carried out both by residents outside their country of residence (outbound) and by foreigners within the borders (inbound).

Beyond this categorization, there is a sociological approach, in which Erik Cohen, sociologist and winner of the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for his contribution to the knowledge of tourism, defines different types of tourism associated with the organization of the trip, as well as the nature of the interaction with the destinations.

Types of tourism according to Cohen:


  • Individual mass: this is the tourist who goes to an agency in search of a tourist package. They make individual trips, taking advantage of the destination’s infrastructure established for mass tourism.
  • Organized mass: these travelers take organized tours where all the details are covered and there are no surprises of any kind. It is usually family tourism without any major variations.


  • Drifter: this is the independent tourist who backpacks. They do not depend on the infrastructure and have little influence on the destination, as they interact with the environment and usually integrate with it.
  • Explorer: This is the tourist who seeks new experiences, often extreme. The definition they use is “off the beaten track.” They prioritize the experience and can sacrifice comforts.

Cohen also proposes a division based on the importance of travel in people’s lives. There are five types of experience:

  • Fun or recreational tourism
  • Distraction tourism
  • Experiential tourism
  • Experimental tourism
  • Existential tourism

Types of tourism according to motivation

Valene Smith, a key figure in the Anthropology of Tourism, defines in her introduction to “Host and Guest” the following types of tourism, according to the motivation of the trip:

  • Recreational
  • Cultural
  • Ethnic
  • Environmental
  • Historical

And later she expands the classification according to Tourist types, where she describes:


They engage with the destination environment and are willing to adapt their behavior to the environment. They choose to visit less-traveled places and do not want to be seen as tourists.

Elite tourists

They also travel in small groups and adapt to local life, but for a limited time. They demand more amenities.

Off-beat tourists

These are independent tourists who break away from traditional itineraries and are looking to see new places. They use guidebooks for tips.

Unusual tourists

They travel on package tours or tours to visit indigenous communities. Their interest in local cultures is contemplative, and they demand the comforts of modern life so as not to take risks in the exchange.

Incipient mass tourists

Although not large in volume, these groups are beginning to demand infrastructure in the destinations they visit.

Mass tourists

They do not forgo the comforts of their country of origin and expect to be served in their own language.

Charter tourists

They purchase tours for short periods of time, demand high-quality services and have almost no interaction with the local environment.

There are infinite approaches and classifications for tourism around the world. A study by the Inter-American University for Development (UNID) makes an interesting distinction between “Classification” and “Typology” in which it defines eight kinds of tourism according to their form, which can, in turn, be subdivided into types.

Types of tourism according to type and purpose of the trip

Beyond these broad approaches, there is a series of categories approved by the UNWTO that is defined by the destination and purpose of the trip, and can be summarized as follows:

Rural Tourism

This takes place in destinations with low population density where agriculture and forestry are prevalent. The main objective is to experience nature, culture and productive activities.


  • Angling tourism
  • Observation tourism


The core element is responsible contact with the natural environment, where the tourist observes and carries out activities in the open air.


  • Bird watching
  • Observation of autochthonous species

Adventure tourism

Tourism in contact with nature, involving physical dexterity to undertake activities that are generally carried out in the open air.


  • Climbing
  • Zip-lining
  • Scuba diving
  • Trekking
  • Sport fishing

Cultural Tourism

This takes place in destinations that have a remarkable cultural heritage and preserve its value. The objective is to discover and enjoy these values and traditions.


  • Field trips
  • Artistic performances
  • Festivals or other cultural events
  • Visits to sites and monuments
  • Folklore
  • Art
  • Pilgrimage

Business Tourism

Regardless of the destination, the reason for the trip is business or professionally motivated. This type of tourism entails a specific approach, as it is carried out by demanding travelers, with little time and particular needs.


  • Attending conferences and congresses
  • Attending Trade Fairs and Exhibitions
  • Other professional and business reasons

Gastronomic Tourism

The trip must involve culinary experiences in the destination, which can range from enjoying a meal to learning how to cook.

UNWTO notes the high potential of this category as a sustainable activity to boost the development of local economies and promote inclusiveness.

A growing trend worth highlighting is Wine Tourism.

Coastal, Maritime and Inland Water Tourism

Includes all water-related activities. The most prominent category is Sun and Beach Tourism. However, the following should not be overlooked:

  • Cruises
  • Inland river navigation

Urban Tourism

This tourism takes place in a non-agricultural economic environment. Urban destinations offer a wealth of experiences related to art, architecture, commerce, social activities and good transport connectivity

Health tourism

Relates to the physical, mental or spiritual health benefit that travel can offer, provided by specific activities.


  • Medical tourism
  • Wellness tourism
  • Spiritual tourism

Mountain Tourism

The nature of the trip is determined by the relief of the destination. It is not related to adventure sports, but to enjoying the attributes of the environment.

Educational Tourism

The objective is focused on acquiring new skills and knowledge.


  • Exchange trips
  • Language courses
  • Tours for school groups

Sports Tourism

This is aimed at those who are going to enjoy or watch a sporting activity.


  • Ski Trips
  • Attending the Football World Cup
  • Attending the Olympic Games
  • Sports Delegation Trips

Each category will also be defined according to the needs and possibilities offered by the tourist destination, but in principle it is important to be able to sustain a basic classification in order to guide the statistics and to be able to work on comparisons and equivalences, depending on the focus we are addressing.


Erik Cohen, Major trends in contemporary tourism. Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2004

Erik Cohen, The sociology of tourism: Approaches, issues and findings. in Annual Review of Sociology, 10,373-392., 1984

Smith, Valene, Hosts and guests. The anthropology of tourism. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.


What are the four 4 types of tourists according to Cohen? ›

Cohen (1972), a sociologist of tourism, classifies tourists into four types, based on the degree to which they seek familiarity and novelty: the drifter, the explorer, the individual mass tourist, and the organized mass tourist.

What are the different forms of tourism as stated by the Unwto? ›

Forms of tourism: There are three basic forms of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism. These can be combined in various ways to derive the following additional forms of tourism: internal tourism, national tourism and international tourism.

What are the 4 main types of tourism? ›

  • Travel and Tourism. ...
  • Domestic Tourism – Taking Holidays and Trips in your own country. ...
  • Inbound Tourism – Visitors from overseas coming into the country. ...
  • Outbound Tourism –Travelling to a different country for a visit or a. ...
  • Different Types of Travel. ...
  • Leisure Travel - includes travel for holidays, cultural events, recreation.

What is tourism according to the Unwto? ›

Tourism according the the UNWTO is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.

What are different types of tourism? ›

  • Types of Tourism.
  • Adventure tourism. As a kind of tourism in India, adventure tourism has recently grown in India. ...
  • Beach Tourism. India's vast coastline and islands provides ample opportunities for fun packed tourism. ...
  • Cultural tourism. ...
  • Eco tourism. ...
  • Medical tourism. ...
  • Wildlife tourism.

What are the different types of tourism explain? ›

Types of tourism

There are three basic forms of tourism: domestic tourism, inbound tourism, and outbound tourism. Domestic tourism refers to activities of a visitor within their country of residence and outside of their home (e.g. a Brit visiting other parts of Britain).

What are the 4 different types of attraction in Travel and Tourism? ›

There are 4 different types of attractions in the travel and tourism industry. These are purpose built attractions, natural attractions, events and heritage attractions.

What are the different types of tourism PDF? ›

For example, in [8] , six types of tourism are organized: relaxing tourism, relaxing and health care tourism, visiting tourism, transit tourism, reduced distance tourism, and professional tourism.

What are the two main types of tourism? ›

Concepts and forms (types) of tourism. Domestic tourism, involving residents of the given country traveling only within this country; Inbound tourism, involving non- resident traveling in the given country; Outbound tourism, involving residents traveling in another country.

Why is 4 a tourism important? ›

Tourism boosts the revenue of the economy, creates thousands of jobs, develops the infrastructures of a country, and plants a sense of cultural exchange between foreigners and citizens.

Why is tourism important UNWTO? ›

As the leading international organization in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

What are the 5 regions of the world according to UNWTO? ›

UNWTO has six regional commissions-Africa, the Americas, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and South Asia.

What is UNWTO and its purpose? ›

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. UNWTO offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide.

What is the most common type of tourism? ›

Recreational Tourism

Perhaps the most common type of tourism is what most people associate with traveling. This is when people go to a place that is very different from their regular day-to-day life to relax and have fun.

What are the different types of tourism Wikipedia? ›

Types of tourism
  • Accessible tourism.
  • Adventure travel.
  • Agritourism.
  • Alternative tourism.
  • Atomic tourism.
  • Birth tourism.
  • Business tourism.
  • Culinary tourism. Enotourism.

What are the six 6 elements of tourism? ›

As a tourism destination, the Brajan Tourism Village already meets six basic elements, such as attraction, image, accessibility, facilities, human resources and price.

What are the 6 A of tourism? ›

A tourist destination is composed of a multitude of characteristics that can contribute to the success of a dynamic co-creation process that will increase the destination's competitiveness in the tourism sector such as Attractions, Accessibility, Amenities, Available Packages, Activities, and Ancillary Services.

What are the 3 types of tourism demand? ›

Types of tourism demand: Tourism demand is of following types depending upon its existence: 1) Active demand. 2) Potential demand. 3) Deferred demand.

What are the 4 basic travel motivators give samples for each? ›

The table shows that there are four main motives which arise whatever the travel experience; Novelty Seeking, Escapism/Relaxation, Relationships and Self Development.

What are the 3 main impacts of tourism? ›

Tourism can generate positive or negative impacts under three main categories: economic, social, and environmental. These impacts are analyzed using data gathered by businesses, governments, and industry organizations.

What is 4 P's in tourism marketing? ›

The 4Ps in tourism are “product,” “price,” “place,” and “promotion.” They are intangible factors for enthusiasts, planners, and adventurers and are categorically streamlined as follows.

What are the 4 impacts of tourism? ›

The traditionally-described domains of tourism impacts are economic, socio-cultural, and environmental dimensions. The economic effects of tourism include improved tax revenue and personal income, increased standards of living, and more employment opportunities.

What are the principles of UNWTO? ›

UNWTO strives to promote tourism development that supports, in equal measure, the conservation of biodiversity, the social welfare and the economic security of the host countries and communities.

What is UNWTO model? ›

UNWTO works to provide guidance and share good practices on policies and governance models aimed to effectively support the tourism sector at the different levels: national, regional and local. The development and management of tourism destinations requires a holistic approach to policy and governance.

What is the theme of UNWTO? ›

The inaugural report is titled “Rethinking Tourism: From Crisis to Transformation”, reflecting the timely relevance of the 2022 theme as well as the unprecedented crisis that hit the sector in 2020.

What are the 5 components of tourism destination site some examples? ›

The five vital components of tourism system are Attraction, Accessibility, Accommodation, Amenities and Activities.

What are the 3 types of regions give an example of each? ›

Three types of regions are formal, vernacular, and functional. Formal regions are uniform. Everyone shares in common one or more distinctive characteristic. An example would be the Mid West being considered the Corn Belt because corn is their distinctive characteristic.

What are the 3 main regions of the world? ›

Americas (North America, South America, Central America, Caribbean) Asia Pacific (Central & South Asia, Northeastern Asia, Southeastern Asia, Australia and Oceania) Europe (Northern Europe, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe)

What are the 4a's of tourism define with example? ›

attractions, accessibility, amenities, and tourism ancillary.

What are the 4's of tourism Why are these as important? ›

Most destinations comprise a core of following attributes, which can be character- ized as the four A's framework: attractions, access, amenities, and ancillary services.

What are the 4 P's in travel and tourism? ›

The 4Ps in tourism are “product,” “price,” “place,” and “promotion.” They are intangible factors for enthusiasts, planners, and adventurers and are categorically streamlined as follows.

What is 5 A's of tourism? ›

These key elements are known as the 5 A's: Access, Accommodation, Attractions, Activities, and Amenities.

What are the various motivations for tourism? ›

Tourist motivations include escape, relaxation, strengthening family togetherness, wish and self-fulfilment, prestige, shopping, social interaction and sexual opportunity. In addition, tourists are also motivated to travel by other factors.

What are the three 3 main categories of tourism impact? ›

Tourism impacts economies through three interrelated routes i.e. direct, indirect and induced effects. These impacts and the structure of the tourism sector determine the sectors economic impact on a country.

What are the 4 basic travel motivator? ›

Answer: The basic travel motivators are the physical motivators, cultural motivators, interpersonal motivators and the status and prestige motivators.

What are the 4 P stand for? ›

The four Ps are a “marketing mix” comprised of four key elements—product, price, place, and promotion—used when marketing a product or service. Typically, businesses consider the four Ps when creating marketing plans and strategies to effectively market to their target audience.

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