Hospitality vs Tourism: What's the Difference?

Image The terms "hospitality" and "tourism" are often used interchangeably. While similar, though, they aren't necessarily the same. If you're considering a career in either of these industries, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the differences between hospitality and tourism. Only then will you be able to choose the right career.

Hospitality vs Tourism: What's the Difference?

What Is Tourism?

Tourism is both an industry and concept. As a concept, tourism refers to traveling to a destination -- either within a person's own country or outside his or her own country -- for business or leisure purposes. More specifically, the World Tourism Organization defines the word "tourism" as the practice of "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours, business and other purposes." As an industry, tourism consists of businesses that sell products or services to these travelers, whom are also known as "tourists."

Common examples of tourism businesses include:
  •     Cruise lines
  •     Hotels
  •     Tour guides
  •     Amusement parks
  •     Travel agents

What Is Hospitality?

Like tourism, hospitality is both a concept and industry. As a concept, hospitality refers to the relationship between a guest and a host. When you visit a friend's home for dinner, for example, he or she acts as the host while you act as the guest. Hospitality is the concept that governs this relationship. As an industry, hospitality consists of businesses that are heavily dependent upon such relationships. To succeed, hospitality businesses must foster strong and meaningful relationships with their guests. Failure to do so will likely result in guests leaving the business for a competitor's products or services.

Common examples of hospitality businesses include:
  •     Restaurants
  •     Cafes
  •     Hotels
  •     Bed & breakfasts
  •     Clubs
  •     Event planning

How the Tourism and Hospitality Industries Differ

Now let's take a closer look at how tourism and hospitality industries differ from each other. Hospitality is a larger industry that actually includes many tourism businesses. Because tourism businesses rely on strong and meaningful relationships with their customers to succeed, they are often classified as hospitality businesses as well. The difference between the tourism and hospitality industries is that former is a smaller industry that specifically focuses on traveling activities, whereas the latter is a larger industry that encompasses all businesses in which strong and meaningful customer relationships are required.

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