February 15, 2024 | Sammy Tran

Different Types of Tourism

What Motivates People to Travel?

The tourism industry is massive, and it caters to everyone. In fact, the tourism sector is comprised of numerous types of travel, defined by what motivates people. 

From dark tourism and doom tourism, to grey and blue tourism, here's 21 different ways people travel the world.

Types Of Travel Split Gallery

Extreme Tourism

Extreme tourism—also known as dangerous tourism—is a niche in the tourism industry that involves traveling to dangerous places, such as mountains, jungles, deserts, caves, canyons, etc.

Girls are traveling in to the woods.Tobi, Pexels

Examples of Extreme Tourism

Extreme tourist destinations include: Chernobyl Tours in Ukraine, swimming in the Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls, walking the plank at Mount Hua, China, traveling along Death Road in Bolivia, and more.

Traveling to places like Antarctica, Costa Rica, Mount Everest, Brazil, etc.

Tourists at amusement park in Pripyat, Ukraine - 2014Jayne Cravens, Flickr

Dark Tourism

Dark tourism is defined as traveling to places that are historically associated with death and tragedy.

A Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Japan - 2018ajay_suresh, Flickr


Examples of Dark Tourism

Dark tourist destinations include: Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, Pompeii, Italy, Hiroshima, Japan, and the Alcatraz prison.

Alcatraz inmates heading out to the Rec yard - 1916-1920National Parks Gallery, Picryl

Trauma Tourism

Trauma tourism is very similar to dark tourism. It usually involves traveling to places historically known for traumatic or significant events.

Cottage at the Culloden battlefield. - 2008Knut P. Bøyum, Flickr

Examples of Trauma Tourism

Trauma tourism destinations include: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, Culloden in Scotland, Beaumaris Prison in Anglesey, etc.

Trauma tourists particularly enjoy castles and battlefields, or sites of natural disasters.

German concentration camp, Auschwitzxiquinhosilva, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Doom Tourism

Doom tourism is defined as travelling to places that are environmentally threatened. People often go to these places to witness them before it is “too late”.

Tourist watching icebergs, Rødefjord, Northeast Greenland National Park - 2015GRID-Arendal, Flickr

Examples of Doom Tourism

Doom tourist destinations include: Melting glaciers in Antarctica, Lake Retba in Senegal, the Great Barrier Reef, Salar De Uyuni, Bolivia, and more.

This also includes area where endangered wildlife can be seen.

Lake Retba in SenegalAnze Furlan, Shutterstock

Grey Tourism

Grey tourism is a niche market in the tourism sector that caters specifically to seniors. These destinations usually have age requirements, and are more accessible.

Elderly tourists taking pictures.Lisa Fotios, Pexels


Examples of Grey Tourism

Grey tourism destinations could be anywhere, as long as they are accessible for seniors. Typically this would include places like Italy, Greece, and Germany, but also specific tropical resorts that may be marketed to the elderly population, like Riu Palace Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Riu Palace Riviera Maya - 2008Fulvio Barudoni, CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Blue Tourism

Blue tourism is also known as coastal and maritime tourism. This type of tourism includes recreational activities that take place on, or close to, the sea.

Woman with soaking feet in the sea.Junior Cazangi, Pexels

Examples of Blue Tourism

Blue tourism destinations include anything near or on the water, such as cruises and islands. But also, anywhere people would mostly partake in water activities, such as diving and surfing.

People diving in water.Oleksandr P, Pexels

Diversionary Tourism

Diversionary tourism is when someone takes a trip to escape from their normal lifestyle.

Two women wearing head scarf are taking selfie together.Denys Gromov, Pexels

Examples of Diversionary Tourism

Diversionary tourism destinations typically include places that someone has always wanted to go, or somewhere that is drastically different than home.

Most times, the diversionary tourist will go to all-inclusive destinations where the ultimate goal is to relax.

Woman in shirt is walking on the beach with wine glasses and food.Mariam Antadze, Pexels

Awareness Tourism

Awareness tourism takes place when someone takes a trip where they immerse themselves into a different community, actively participating in community activities.

Women sitting with plates of fish in village.Elina Januska ,Pexels


Examples of Awareness Tourism

Examples of Awareness tourist destinations could be any place where the cultural experience may be different than home.

This typically includes small villages outside popular resorts (such as in Mexico), or remote locations open to a handful of tourists at a time (such as Northern Russia).

Norilsk Golgotha, a memorial to Gulag prisoners - 2016Ninara, Flickr

Psychocentric Tourism

Psychocentric tourists are typically self-inhibiting, nervous and non-adventurous. They don’t often travel by air for psychological reasons, rather than financial or other practical concerns.

Young woman is looking in map outside.Nataliya Vaitkevich, Pexels

Examples of Psychocentric Tourism

Most psychocentric destinations include places that can be reached by car, and are well-equipped with tourism amenities—such as hotels, restaurants and shops.

Examples include big cities close to home, annual festivals, and family-friendly resorts.

Senior man is buying from street seller.furkanfdemir, Pexels

Drifter Tourism

Drifter tourism is another name for backpacking. Drifter tourists usually travel independently with minimal baggage, and they do not depend on the infrastructure.

Drifters often interact and integrate with their destinations.

Man with backpack looking at side.Yura Forrat, Pexels

Examples of Drifter Tourism

The most popular area for drifters is Europe—the ever-popular “Euro trip”. This is typically because people can travel through many different countries without having taking expensive transportation.

Man hitchhiking on the side of the road.GBJSTOCK, Shutterstock

Elite Tourism

Elite tourism typically includes a combination of luxury experiences, exclusivity, and personalization. Basically, it’s tourism for the rich and famous.

Man with a suitcase on a ferry.Ersin Baştürk, Pexels


Examples of Elite Tourism

Examples of elite tourist destinations include, private islands and private resorts in places such as Bali, Maldives, Hawaii, Bora Bora, Thailand, South Africa, and Italy.

Man and woman are walking on dock.Asad Photo Maldives, Pexels

Mass Tourism

Mass tourism is a form of tourism where large numbers of tourists go to the same destination at the same time of year.

This usually occurs when destinations offer package deals.

Tourists In Colosseum Rome - 2017Christian Sapetschnig, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Examples of Mass Tourism

The most common places for mass tourism include Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, Thailand and various places in the United States.

Typically, mass tourism occurs in places where skiing, surfing, and beaching is popular, or where there are commercial attractions, such as Rome.

Tourists at Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti in Rome - 2016Carlo Raso, Flickr

Culinary Tourism

Culinary tourism, also known as food tourism, is when someone travels for a culinary experience. It usually includes cooking classes, drink tours, food festivals, etc.

Man is selling street food in cups.zhang kaiyv, Pexels

Examples of Culinary Tourism

The most common destinations for culinary tourism are in Europe, such as Rome, Italy, and San Sebastian, Spain.

Also, Kyoto, Japan, Mexico City, Mexico, and New York, USA are popular places for world-class culinary experiences.

Cooking master classg_dasha, Shutterstock

Rural Tourism

Rural tourism is often defined as the “country experience”, where people travel to places less populated, and participate in a rural lifestyle.

Woman in white dress is sitting over green fields.HONG SON, Pexels

Examples of Rural Tourism

Examples of natural tourism include small villages, cottages, homestays, farms, ranches, and eco lodges. These places are usually lesser-known and are not considered “tourist destinations”.

Maasai people and a tourist lighting a fire - 2005CT Cooper, Wikimedia Commons

Cultural Tourism

Cultural tourism is a type of tourism where people travel to places looking for a cultural learning experience. They are motivated to learn, discover and experience a culture different from their own.

Tourists dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos - 2019shankar s., Flickr

Examples of Cultural Tourism

Common cultural tourism destinations include places like Mexico, Thailand, Jamaica, Japan, Spain, and so on.

However, usually tourists choose off-resort hostels and villages where they can experience the culture without the influence of tourism.

Chinese and Korean tourists in Kiyomizu-dera temple - 2019shankar s., Flickr

Religious Tourism

Religious tourism is when someone travels for religious or spiritual purposes, such as undertaking a pilgrimage or visiting sacred sites.

Wat Chai Watthanaram temple - 2015Thanate Tan, Flickr

Examples of Religious Tourism

Those who travel for religious or spiritual purposes might go to places like Saudi Arabia or the Himalayas.

Those who travel for religious sightseeing might go to places like the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal, Jerusalem, or the Way of Saint James in Spain.

The Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Jerusalem - 2007Alex-David Baldi, Flickr


Ecotourism is a form of tourism marketed as "responsible" travel to natural areas, conserving the environment, and improving the well-being of the local community.

Muir Woods National Monument - 2009Wally Gobetz, Flickr

Examples of Ecotourism

The most common destinations for ecotourism include places that have rainforests, beaches, volcanoes, mountains, and intriguing landscapes, such as: Costa Rica, Iceland, Palau, Galapagos Islands, and various places in the United States.

Skogafoss, Iceland - 2022Ron Reiring, Flickr

Domestic Tourism

Domestic tourism occurs when citizens travel within their home country, but outside their usual environment.

People taking pictures on the bridge.Tim Gouw, Pexels

Examples of Domestic Tourism

Many people travel to their country’s national or state parks, as well as popular beaches and resorts in big cities.

In the United States, many travels head toward the sunn states, such as, Hawaii, California, and Florida.

People skiing at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort - 2007Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism, Flickr

Sports Tourism

Sports tourism occurs when someone travels for a sports experience, either to participate or to spectate.

Crowd on stadium.Luis Quintero, Pexels

Examples of Sports Tourism

The most common destinations for Sports Tourism include, Barcelona Spain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, New York City, United States, and Melbourne Australia.

Back view of a woman supporting a football team - BarcelonaEl gringo photo, Pexels

Urban Tourism

Urban/city tourism emphasizes cultural and commercial activities. It occurs when someone travels to populated areas and takes part in typical city tourism attractions.

Dinosaur Tour at the American Museum of Natural History - 2012Scott Beale, Flickr

Examples of Urban Tourism

Urban tourism is less about the destination and more about the activity. Common urban tourist attractions include: Museums, art galleries, religious temples, skyscrapers, monuments, parades, festivals, and various other events.

From a WMUK mini-tour of Derby Museum - 2011Mike Peel, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Leisure Tourism

Leisure tourism is similar to diversion tourism, where people take a break from daily routine life. Typically, leisure tourists go to inclusive resorts that offer relaxing activities and beaches.

People on deckchairs by swimming pool.Vincent Rivaud, Pexels

Examples of Leisure Tourism

Just like diversion tourism, leisure tourism is your typical vacation somewhere one might have minimal responsibilities. Popular places include tropical resorts, or inclusive ranch-style resorts.

Female traveler in hammock bed in tropical resort.Rachel Claire, Pexels

Final Thoughts

All in all, there are several different reasons people are motivated to travel, and each reason presents unique opportunities.

The world is a vast, magnificent place with endless destination opportunities. So, keep adding to your bucket list, there is so much more to explore.

couple with suitcasesMy Ocean Production, Shutterstock



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