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Cultural History of Tourism



Through a historical perspective, students will be able to deal with the complex nature of tourism, its link with modernity and its drive towards innovation and change.

Description / Program

The course will offer an overview concerning the rise and development of tourism and tourism industry in the 19th and 20th centuries, focusing on social and cultural aspects.

The following moments of high significance and turning points will be examined in detail.

  • Thomas Cook and the origins of Package tour
  • The Golden era of Cruises
  • “Dark tourism”, Tourism and Nazism
  • Mass tourism in the Mediterranean: “Inventing the Summer”, Holiday Camp, Beach culture
  • Colonial tourism
  • Hippie trail, backpackers
  • Overtourism
  • Tourism and epidemics

A considerable space will be devoted to the complex relation between travel and tourism. Another important topic will be the history of tourism in Switzerland. Switzerland was the first Desti-Nation, the first Country entirely transformed by tourism, a model for all the others.

Only one canton was different. After the opening of San Gottardo Tunnel, Canton Ticino became an important touristic area and it was promoted as the Sonnenstube, a Mediterranean region nestled into the Alps.

Learning Method / Style of Lessons
Frontal lesson, workshops, discussion of books, visits to significant places for the history of tourism in Ticino.

Exam Style

Written exam. Time: 1.5 hours à 10 quick questions (30’, 0.5 points each) + 2 longer questions with open answer (1 h, 2.5 points each).

(Otherwise oral exam if COVID-19 restrictions will be still in use).

Requested Material
Course slides


Eric G.E. Zuelow, A History of Modern Tourism, Red Globe Press, 2015, Chapter 3 to the end

Hans Magnus Enzensberger, A Theory of Tourism, 1958

Diccon Bewes, Slow Train to Switzerland, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2013



Visentin C.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year
Master of Arts in Economics and Communication in International Tourism, Core course, Fundamental knowledges, 1st year