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Published:13 January 2003
  • Simon Robson
Origin:13 January 2003, MA in Applied Research and Consulting
Abstract:The fifth of July 1841. Crowds cheering, five hundred and seventy people (Burkart and Medlik, 1981 p15), board a relatively unfamiliar steel contraption named a steam locomotive. Excitement abounds, both on the platform and within the poorly equipped, 3rd class, travel accommodation (Withey, 1997 p136). In great glory and, no doubt, acres of steam the party leaves Leicester station on their history-making trip to Loughborough. The age of rail tourism was upon those lucky few. "From this acorn grew the mighty oak of modern tourism" (Brendon, 1991 p8).

Next consider April the first 2001. Almost one hundred and sixty years later and Dennis Tito is sitting in a similarly unfamiliar hunk of metal - this time it is a Russian space rocket. Not only are there people cheering from the ground, there are people around the world watching in (www.space.com). Tito is crammed into a tiny space module aware that his place in history is assured. As thousands of tons of complex fuels explode, forcing downwards, the rocket lifts. A new age is upon us - the age of space tourism, Dennis Tito will be the first tourist in space (The Guardian: 1).

These moments are undeniably key within the history of modern leisure tourism. Yet they seem not only distant in time but also in concept. I shall investigate the relative properties of each of these moments, aiming to see if they are really all that different. I shall not be swayed by the obvious differences or romantic similarities, instead I shall weigh them up and attempt to arrive at a sensible conclusion.

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