History of Tourism – the Beginning of Leisure Tourism 1844

beginning leisure tourism 1844
Beginning leisure tourism 1844

History of Tourism – the Beginning of Leisure Tourism in 1844 | Tourism means touring for pleasure – traveling for holiday activities only. Traces of recreational journeys one can already find in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. But modern mass tourism did not become an industry until the 1840s in Leicester, England. The following seven blog posts will introduce you to the origins of modern mass tourism. Let’s go back in time, to the year 1841 …

beginning leisure tourism 1844
Founder of tourism: Thomas Cook

On 5 July 1841 – a man named Thomas Cook arranged for a rail company to charge one shilling per person for a train journey. That included rail tickets and food for this trip. Cook was paid a share of the fares actually charged to the passengers. This was the first privately chartered excursion train to be advertised to the general public. The seed of modern mass tourism was planted. Cook conducted more and more outings for temperance societies and school children. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway Company agreed to make a permanent arrangement with Tom Cook. His job was to find passengers for these leisure tours. His success led Cook to start his own business – running railway excursions and taking a percentage of the railway tickets.

beginning leisure tourism 1844 founder of tourism Thomas Cook Leicester
Beginning of leisure tourism 1844: it began here at the train station London Road in Leicester, England.

But Cook didn’t stop there. In 1848 he planned his first tourist excursion abroad, when he took a group from Leicester to Calais and Paris. One year later he started so-called ‘grand circular tours’ of Europe. He took British tourists to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and the U.S. Cook established the ‘all inclusive travel’. Travelers went independently but his agency charged for travel, food and accommodation for a fixed period over any chosen route. Cooks huge success led the Scottish railway companies withdrew their support in 1862 to try similar excursion businesses for themselves.

Thomas Cook (1808-1892) was not just the founder of the travel agency ‘Thomas Cook & Son’ – also famous as ‘Cook’s Tours’. He was the founder of modern mass tourism. His company became ‘Thomas Cook AG’ in 2002 before eventually being renamed into ‘Thomas Cook Group’ in 2007. The group operates predominantly on the European tourism market. All Thomas Cook travel agencies combined made a net income of almost 20 million Pound in 2017.


Beginning leisure tourism 1844. By Chili and Churp | © International Destinations | Read all our articles on the History of Tourism here:  | Beginning of Leisure Tourism 1844 | Beginning of Winter Tourism 1860 | First Cruise Ship 1900 | Sex Tourism since 1950s | Space Tourism since 2009 | Tourism in AntarcticaForgotten Tourist Destinations | Most popular Countries for Tourists