Foreign dimensions which far surpassed any known
Foreign travel now came within reach of people of moderate incomes. Hotels and boarding-houses sprang up to accommodate them. Topographical prints and sketches and, later, photographs appeared in response to their demand.
Maps and guide-books gave them the means of travelling intelligently. Subsequently, travel agencies entered the field, headed by Thomas cook (q.v.) whose first advertised excursion was in 1841 between Loughborough and Leicester.
Neverthless, many other well-known companies trace their origin to this period. For example, Sir Henry Lunn who started Lunn Poly, Dean and Dawson appeared in 1871, the Polytechnic Touring Association in the following year and Frames in 1881.
In the United States, even though, American Express, founded by, among ether, Henry Wells and William Fargo of Wells Fargo fame, entered the business of booking holiday arrangements only in the early twentieth century but it introduced the system of money orders and travellers’ cheques in the late nineteenth century.
Today, American Express is known the world over for its traveller’s cheques, credit cards, vacation travel and financial services. Between 1850 and 1914 tourist traffic reached dimensions which far surpassed any known previously.
It had become a world phenomenon from which countries such as France, Italy and Switzerland derived substantial annual revenues. The reason being that for the 30 or 40 years prior to 1914 most tourists, in Western Europe especially, could travel where they liked, and as they liked, without passport or visa or currency control and often even without enumeration. But though precise statistics are lacking, the broad facts of this great movement are not in dispute.
After 1919 tourists traffic began to recover quickly and was soon recognized to be an important element in international trade. National organizations were established in most countries to encourage and promote its interests, e.g. the Italian Ente Nazionale per le Industries Turistiche (Enit, established 1919) and the Travel Association of the United Kingdom (1929) which in 1950 became the British Travel and Holidays Association sponsored by the Government.
Between 1919 and 1939, the period between the world wars, the country with the largest outward movement of tourists and also with the best tourist statistics was the United States, at the peak in 1929.
The Second World War stopped international tourist traffic. And the consequences of war – physical damage of transport and accommodation in many countries; impoverishment, controls, shortage of exchange – delayed its revival on any large scale. It was only in 1947 when tourist traffic began to recover rapidly.