Skip to Main Content

Tourism and Travel: A Research Guide

General Resources

National Park Service. Welcome to Washington. 1993. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Prior to industrialization, travel was a complicated process but with the advent of railroads and faster steam ships as well as growing amounts of disposable income, people increasingly traveled for pleasure. In the United States, as disposable wealth increased and people became more mobile, the industry really boomed. People were buying more cars and the interstate highway system allowed them more freedom to travel to popular destinations like beaches and the National Parks. The introduction and expansion of air travel also increased the range and diversity of destinations. As tourism became more common and competition for visitors increased, destinations increasingly promoted themselves directly to consumers. The advent of the Internet and various social media channels has become a more important part of the marketing efforts.

The increased interest in traveling has led to new emphases and specialties within the industry. First, is the phenomena of overtourism. Popular cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, Bruges, and Barcelona have tried various methods to control the flow and negative impacts large number of visitors have on both the cities and those that live there. Second, the rise in levels of travel and tourism has led to the desire for educational paths and opportunities. Now several universities have gone beyond hospitality programs, and created programs that offer a Master's in Tourism Management/Administration and even include a concentration on sustainable tourism.

Keeping up to date on this industry and looking at the newest trends and rising issues will likely entail researching in news sources so see the Subscription Resources section of this guide for options. We have also tried to include resources that provide data and information that will help researchers develop their own market profile. You can also use the Doing Industry Research guide for more information on search strategies and using SIC/NAICS codes in industry research specifically with relation to Census data. Lastly, here are a few of the factors that are important to keep in mind when doing research in this area:

  • General economic well being and economic stability. If people are financially secure they spend money, if they don't, they won't. For example, the international global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 impacted the wealth of individuals and by extension, what they spent money on including travel.
  • Travel in terms of options and costs, can impact decisions on travel. For example, in terms of options, in the U.S. the interstate highway system gave people travel options while the airlines offered an alternative travel option. In terms of costs, the price of gas can affect both car travelers directly and airlines by increasing the cost of gas. This makes it more expensive for the individual and the airline.
  • One-time events impact on the locations specifically and beyond. Good examples include the Pacific tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11.

Selected Bibliography

There are many titles that are of interest to people wanting to learn and study this industry, these are just a few of the tiles. The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.