Wednesday 27 February 2013

Benefits and Criticism of Tourism in the 18th Century and it's Modern Day Implications

‘I suppose a little tour of Italy, will be the next excursion; it furnishes rather an additional fund for elegant amusements in private life than anything useful’

                                      - Lord Findlater to James Oswald re latters son, 1768

The idea of tourism was heavily criticised during the eighteenth century mainly on the grounds of cost, culture, dangers of Catholicism and venereal disease. Very little criticism is aimed at tourism itself, rather more in a xenophobic manner, in that people were afraid of foreign influences such as French food and Italian Opera would have on the country and tourism was seen as something of a failure to defend the integrity of British life and society.

Those who defended tourism rarely stressed the pleasures of foreign travel as such matters would have been deemed trivial. In some cases, to be able to travel, a bit of deception was often used; motives for travelling were often seeking cures for ill health, socialising, knowledge and education.

During the first half of the eighteenth century, the ‘Classical Grand Tour’ was the most dominate (young men travelling with tutors for several years to continue their education). But the latter half of the century saw a change in who was travelling abroad, whilst many still travelled in this manner, it started to include tourists not on their first trip, women, older tourists, families and people who sought shorter journeys (weekend trips). This new group did not strive for education, rather travelling for the sake of it, for enjoyment and amusement.

The Casual Tourist was born.

Because of this new found freedom and going on holiday meant not looking for education, landscapes and their wilder features in it began to be appreciated and admired.

Notes from: 'The British Abroad: The Grand Tour In The Eighteenth Century', Jeremy Black
Quote from the book, sourced from: Memorials of... James Oswald (Edinburgh, 1825), p.206