Traveller of the past / tourist of today: from the encounter of the other to self-discovery

Christine Escallier


The phenomenon of tourism is a total social fact – with economic, cultural, social, political dimensions – both complex and old. Tourism may be said to have begin when someone left his/her village, his/her home town, to sleep, at least for one night, in an unfamiliar place. This definition, however, does not clarify the difference between the specialist traveller – explorer, adventurer, missionary and philosopher of the Enlightenment era, or ethnologist, archaeologist, writer and painter of the nineteenth century – and the leisure traveller, the twentieth century tourist. This article deals with the motivations of those who travel: the encounter with the other, the search for self-discovery, the search for identity. With the aid of literary quotations, the article attempts to discern how people have travelled in different epochs, the past evolution of the profile of the traveller and its likely evolution in the early 21st century.


Evolution of travel; experience; self-discovery; travel; tourism

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