The scope of the contemporary tourism sector
Tourism is often described as one of the world’s largest industries with huge figures quoted for the value of the tourism industry and the numbers it employs. This chapter provides a reality check for this ‘boosterism’ by demonstrating that we are far from reaching agreement as to just how to define the tourism industry. The chapter outlines the approaches to date in trying to define and measure tourism as an industry and outlines the problems faced in doing so, not least the fact that many industries are involved in delivering the tourism product. It demonstrates that tourism is in fact only partially an industry as governments, communities and others are involved in delivering the tourism product. The chapter goes on to show how tourism is not recognized as an industry in SICs and national statistical systems. It then outlines the recent breakthrough in defining and measuring the tourism industry in the form of the TSA. The TSA has now been accepted by the United Nations as the industry standard in defining and measuring the tourism industry. It can be used to compare tourism with other economic sectors and to provide policy makers and planners with useful information. The chapter closes by considering how tourism employment is measured and some of the problems involved.