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Cultural History of Tourism


Visentin C.

Course director


A considerable space will be devoted to the relationship 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 the San Gottardo Tunnel, Canton Ticino became a highly developed touristic area, and it was promoted as the Sonnenstube, a Mediterranean region nestled into the Alps.

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

Some 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
  • Hippie trail, backpackers, Interrail
  • Colonial tourism
  • Overtourism


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.

Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods

Frontal lesson, project works, discussion of books, visits to significant places for the history of tourism in Ticino.

Examination information

25% of the final grade will be awarded through the evaluation of in-class activities, such as project work presentations or exercises. 

Written exam. Time: 1.5 hours 

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).



Study trips

  • LAC, 05.10.22 - 05.10.22 (Compulsory)
  • Hermann Hesse Museum, 12.10.22 - 12.10.22 (Compulsory)
  • Monte Verità Ascona, 19.10.22 - 19.10.22 (Compulsory)
  • Customs Museum Gandria, 26.10.22 - 26.10.22 (Compulsory)