Tourism consumption

The field of economics frequently uses the term “tourism consumption” to refer to the consumption of goods and services by tourists. However, this term may not accurately capture the complexities of the tourism experience.

According to the website, consumption is defined as “the use of a good or a service either for its transformation in production (intermediate consumption) or for the satisfaction of a need (final consumption) implying the immediate or progressive destruction of this good.” In the context of tourism, the second category would apply, since tourists buy food from restaurants, supermarkets or local producers to make their own meals (see Tourism Satellite Account). Individuals may also use goods to self-produce part, or even all, of their tourism experience. For instance, most people travel to their destinations in their own cars.

A problematic definition

But this definition is not appropriate in the sense that the act does not necessarily result in destruction. For example, the landscapes, or their representations, remain. This notion of tourism as destructive is overly simplistic and lacks nuance, since it has been around since tourism began, and most tourist locations and spaces are still active two or three centuries later.

In 1998, Pascal Cuvelier suggested an alternative perspective, proposing the use of the term “tourism practice” instead of “tourism consumption”: “It is appropriate to give the “universe of the individual” (Moati, 1993) a central role in the consumption process. This “universe” refers to an individual’s personal vision or representation of the world, including their knowledge, values, and behavioural norms. Tourism can be viewed as a way to express an individual’s personal interests and passions, and as such, it would bring factors and elements related to the “universe of the individual” into the consumption choices and consumption processes. To clarify this concept, we suggest using the term “tourism practice” instead of “tourism consumption” (p. 89).

Philippe Violier