Tourism can be defined as the act of travel for the purpose of recreation, and the provision of services for this act. A tourist is someone who travels at least eighty kilometres (fifty miles) from home for the purpose of recreation, as defined by the World Tourism Organization (a United Nations body).
A more comprehensive definition would be that tourism is a service industry, comprising a number of tangible and intangible components. The tangible elements include transport systems – air, rail, road, water and now, space; hospitality services – accommodation, foods and beverages, tours, souvenirs; and related services such as banking, insurance and safety & security. The intangible elements include: rest and relaxation, culture, escape, adventure, new and different experiences.
Many sovereignties, along with their respective countries and states, depend heavily upon travel expenditures by foreigners as a source of taxation and income for the enterprises that sell (export) services to these travellers. Consequently the development of tourism is often a strategy employed either by a Non-governmental organization (NGO) or a governmental agency to promote a particular region for the purpose of increasing commerce through exporting goods and services to non-locals.
Sometimes Tourism and Travel are used interchangeably. In this context travel has a similar definition to tourism, but implies a more purposeful journey.
The term tourism is sometimes used pejoratively, implying a shallow interest in the societies and natural wonders that the tourist visits.