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What is social tourism?

Minnaert, Lynn; Maitland, Robert; Miller, Graham


Lynn Minnaert

Robert Maitland

Graham Miller


This article examines the definitions and implementations of the concept of ‘social tourism’ that are in use in Europe today. Examples show that the concept has been implemented in many different ways to suit national contexts and that the justifications and goals of social tourism can differ greatly. The question arises how one can define the boundaries of this versatile and complex concept. This article proposes a model to clarify the interrelationships between the different interpretations: it highlights where common ground exists, but also where contradictions are apparent. The model consists of four main categories: the participation model, the inclusion model, the adaptation model and the stimulation model. The model draws on the historical development of social tourism and the ethical foundations for provision, and it is supported by a range of examples of European practice. Through this sub-categorisation of the concept, it is argued that a ‘scientification’ of the concept of social tourism can take place, so that the term does not lose its academic and political value. This article concludes by proposing a definition for social tourism that can effectively set the concept apart from other forms of tourism with attached social benefits.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 28, 2011
Online Publication Date Jun 8, 2011
Publication Date 2011-07
Deposit Date Aug 14, 2022
Journal Current Issues in Tourism
Print ISSN 1368-3500
Electronic ISSN 1747-7603
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 5
Pages 403-415
Keywords social tourism, ethics, social exclusion, regeneration, social policy
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