The old adage of needing a vacation to recover from a vacation trip reflects the often strenuous nature of holiday travels, as we try to squeeze in as many activities as possible within the short period that we are free from work. Travel and tourism, therefore, are typically considered leisure activities and a form of recreation that takes place away from the home place. The fact that tourism involves travel from one place to another, and occurs in places that are often shaped intentionally by the tourism industry, also make it very geographical.
Leisure as Non-Work
Most people have an inherent sense of what they consider to be a leisure activity. We generally know that it is not work and not something that you must do. In fact, it is easier to define what leisure is not than what it is. In part, this is because leisure is very subjective – what one person considers a leisure activity, another person may not consider leisure at all. A hike in the woods might be considered leisure by some, and work by someone else.
Leisure can also be defined as a specific activity that results in the physical or mental relaxation and rejuvenation of an individual. Some popular activities that are normally associated with these results include watching television, participating in sports and other outdoor recreation activities, reading books and magazines, going to the movies, and listening to music.
Tourism, Mobility and Migration
Another way of conceptualizing tourism is as a form of voluntary temporary mobility by which people travel to another location – often for leisure or visiting friends and relations (VFR). This way of thinking about tourism helps differentiate it from forced mobility, as in the case of political or environmental refugees, for example, people having to move because of a major flood, or permanent migration.
Geography deals with two basic areas of inquiry about the world around us: place and space. Geography seeks to portray accurately the character of places. Place location (where is it?) is fundamental to understanding a place’s characteristics. Place description (what is it like?) is part of the art of geography. These are the types of questions that most people would readily identify with geography.