The circuit and loop, as defined by Violier (2017) and Sacareau (2000) respectively, are networks of places, known as stages, that tourists travel to as a secondary destination. These are in contrast to the primary tourist destination. Tourists often use efficient and rapid means of transportation to reach these destinations. Similarly, two distant stages will be linked by high-speed train or plane, creating a tunnel effect.
Circuits or loops as a network of places
The network is characterised by people travelling from one destination to another. Usually, people move from place to place each day, even if the location has enough tourist attractions to justify staying for multiple nights. In some cases, people do stay longer in one large city rather than completing a circuit.
Places may also be visited during excursions, which are day trips that do not involve spending the night. For example, Parisian tour agencies often offer groups of foreign tourists the opportunity to visit the Loire Valley châteaux of Chambord and Chenonceau, with a short stop to see the Amboise Château. Day trips to Versailles are also available to tourists staying in Paris. Tourists are often described as “passing through,” even though they are visiting an area for a period of time, but not necessarily staying in one place.
However, the repetitive nature of the tourist system gives it a systemic permanence, as the selection of places is based on shared values within a society. Furthermore, different societies share a common repertoire of places that individuals from various cultures wish to visit at least once in their lives, often referred to as iconic and globally recognised tourist destinations with universal value. Tour operator catalogues from different cultures identify types of places and specific places within each culture (see Taunay et Violier, 2015; Violier et Taunay, 2019 on China). For example, in North America, tourism statistics rank large cities such as New York first, followed by biophysical places such as Niagara Falls and the national parks in the Western US.
Different modes of transportation, such as airplanes, trains, boats, and cars, can be used to travel between stages of a trip, as well as within the chosen locations.
Discovery tourism involves visiting iconic places of a society, whether one’s own or another’s. These places can include tourist cities and villages, as well as other sites. The focus can be on today’s modern world or on historical sites and vestiges of the past. The focus can also be on biophysical monuments. For example, an itinerary in the northeastern part of the United States generally includes a stop at Niagara Falls, while loops in the west include cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the national parks.
Tour operators usually offer tours of one country, or one region, but some itineraries include tours of several countries.
Physical activities such as hiking and trekking are also popular forms of travel. This can include a wide range of different modes of movement, including walking, horseback riding, and biking.
These activities often combine elements of discovery and physical activity, and some may even blend multiple activities together, in which case no distinction can be made. For example, trekking combines the physical activity of walking with the discovery of mountain societies and the appreciation of natural landscapes.