Why and where do we travel?

In 2017 more than 1.3 billion international tourists travelled the world. That number has more than doubled since 1995 and increased by over 4000 percent since the 1950s. Why are we travelling to such an increasing extent? There are a number of factors motivating us. Incomes are higher, we have more free time, and flying is cheap. We also feel a greater need to get away and switch off from everyday life, or to create an identity for ourselves through travelling. Other major contributing factors are travel marketing and how easy it has become to book trips yourself.

In addition, certain destinations can be so attractive that we want to go there just to experience them, like the Grand Canyon, the Ice Hotel in Northern Sweden, the Eiffel Tower or similar tourist hot spots. Price levels and exchange rates in a country can also attract tourists, whereas political instability and risk of terrorist attack frightens people off. The figure below (based on Schmoll, 1977) illustrates tourists’ decision making processes and the different driving forces and factors that influence them.

Read more in this section about what research has to say about driving forces and factors affecting travel demand, tourists’ travel motives and how destinations’ supply can influence travel.