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Differences between Tourism and Hospitality

Differences between Tourism and Hospitality

The terms ‘Tourism’ and ‘Hospitality’ are often used together side by side. Formal university degrees are sometimes offered on both together e.g. BA (Hon’s) in Tourism and Hospitality Management. However, they are not the same thing. Although, they are considered to be under the same roof, some differences exist between the two. The difference is clear when universities are seen awarding separate degrees e.g. BA (Hon’s) in Tourism Management and BA (Hon’s) in Hospitality Management.

Definition of tourism

Tourism refers to the sum of the relationships arising out of the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes (Wall and Mathieson, 2005, cited in McCabe, 2009). Tourist destinations, transportation and tickets for travelling, and tourism activities such as mountain climbing, trekking, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, jungle safari, sights seeing are some of the areas of tourism industry.

Definition of hospitality

Hospitality is about dealing with accommodation, food, and beverage for people away from home. It in the historical sense, concerns a duty of charitableness, offering protection (shelter) and succour (food and drink) to strangers (Lashley, 2000, cited in McCabe, 2009).

Differences between tourism and hospitality

First of all, let us look at the difference from an employment point of view. Hotel clerks, restaurant managers, bar managers, waiters, waitresses and so on are some of the job titles held by people working in the hospitality industry. On the other hand, tourist guide, destination PR consultant, travel consultant, tour operations assistant and so on are some of the job titles held by people working in the tourism industry.

Students with a tourism qualification should be able to find employment in national parks, museums, libraries, travel agencies, tour companies and so on. On the other hand, students with a hospitality qualification typically work in hotels, motels, café, restaurants, resorts, and many more.

There are different types of business within the hospitality industry and these businesses usually fall under four broad categories i.e. accommodation, food and beverage, travel and tourism, and entertainment. This shows that hospitality is a broad area, and tourism is a part of it. London, Paris, New York, Dubai, and Istanbul are very popular places for tourism. It is important that when visitors go there, they have a good experience. Places where they stay e.g. hotels or bed and breakfasts, must be welcoming, provide delicious food, accommodation and service to encourage them to come back and/or recommend others to come (BBC, 2020).

It can be said that tourism is tasked with managing a destination’s details and resources, while hospitality manages and facilitates the provisions of food, accommodation, and socialisation for tourists. To say it in another way, both tourism and hospitality complement each other. For example, a tourist needs tickets for travelling (tourism) and a place like hotel to stay in and perhaps a restaurant to eat in (hospitality).

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Last update: 25 September 2020

Further reading/references

BBC (2020) What is hospitality, available at: (accessed 25 September 2020)

McCabe, S. (2009) Marketing Communications in Tourism and Hospitality: Concepts, Strategies and Cases, 1st edition, Butterworth-Heinemann

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.

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