Travel and Tourism Career Field Structure
There are four basic necessities of travel: transportation, lodging, dining, and entertainment. When planning a trip, most travelers first gather information on these four elements by checking the current availability and cost of transportation, lodging, food at their planned destination, and entertainment offerings. Some locations are interesting for their historical or cultural relevance, while others provide pleasant natural surroundings, and still others provide physical adventure. Tourists may choose to combine one or more elements in a package plan that someone else arranges, or they may choose to create a vacation and handle all the planning personally. In both instances, travel specialists or travel agents may provide guidance, information, and services to the traveler.
If the traveler is planning a trip without the aid of a travel specialist, the available resources vary, depending on the destination. Written travel guides are available for almost every major destination, whether it’s a city or a natural area, and travel guides for entire regions and countries are also abundant. In recent years the Internet has become a remarkably powerful tool for gathering travel information, making plans, and booking accommodations. Language books for travel abroad give translations and pronunciation guides for commonly used phrases. Classes, television shows, and an endless variety of CD-ROMs, cassettes, and books are available for foreign language instruction specifically geared to the traveler. All the commonly studied languages are widely available, as are many unfamiliar languages, such as African tribal languages.
Many travelers find it easier to let a professional handle the information gathering and planning. In such cases, they consult a travel agency. The goal of travel agents working for a travel agency is to help their clients plan a trip that meets their desires and fits within their travel budget. Specifically, they check rates on transportation and accommodations and make transportation and hotel reservations. Agents also provide information such as visa and medical requirements for travel abroad, and they can supply additional directions specific to the traveler’s needs.
Travelers seeking an even simpler plan have another option: the packaged tour. Packaged tours, which can range from several days to several weeks, are available for those who wish to have many aspects of a trip planned in advance. They may cover a number of countries or they may include just one city. Tourists have a wide variety of tours to choose from to meet their specific needs and interests. Travel agencies, private groups, museums, universities, and other institutions are just some of the organizations that provide packaged tours.
One type of packaged tour is adventure travel, which has become one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. This travel is geared toward the physically active traveler who enjoys both seeing great wonders and exploring them. Adrenaline-pumping activities such as kayaking, whitewater rafting, and hiking are some of the pursuits available to the adventure traveler. Hundreds of outfitters make a living organizing and guiding such trips, which may include a weeklong trip sea-kayaking in Baja or whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon. Outfitters usually specialize in one sport, but bigger companies take on several sports. Outfitters usually take groups of eight or more people on their trips.
For tourists interested in spending much of the time actually moving from one point to another, cruise ships provide a slower, more leisurely type of travel. Cruise ships were the only form of travel across the oceans for many years. With the onset of air travel, cruise ships fell out of favor. Shorter cruises, in the Caribbean, for example, have again gained in popularity. Cruise ships provide so much entertainment that some passengers regard them as floating vacation spas. The locations visited by the ship may not be important to the cruise passengers who choose whether or not to disembark at ports. Cruises usually run from three days to a few weeks and may dock in two or three cities. Some of the most popular cruises today are to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, and Alaska.