Today mankind travels from place to another much frequently than ever before in human history. However, traveling and mankind goes long back. In fact, we have been traveling since the time we came into existence sometimes for food; to explore the world and sometimes for purely spiritual reasons. Whatever the reasons might have been, the truth is that a human who hasn’t traveled enough hasn’t lived. We all are aware of the significance of the hospitality industry today, but how did all begin? To understand modern tourism, we need to look at a few eras in human history which had the most impact on why we travel and for what.
Earliest Travel in Human History
Historical evidence suggests that the earliest movement of humans date back to 10,000 B.C. during the Neolithic Age when humans were just starting to settle down and making their very first breakthroughs in agriculture and other things to create what would eventually become the blueprints for our modern society. Long before the Egyptians built their very first vessels sometime around 4000 BC; the Sumerians were already moving around things using the wheel and had invented the concept of money in 3500 BC for use in trade and commerce.
Shulgi of Babylonia was probably the first to realize the importance of a place to stay for travelers coming in all the way from the east to the west with spices, cloth, etc. and thus the very first guesthouses came into existence. As the need for travelers was realized and a higher number of people started conducting trade and commerce; private entities began to emerge sensing opportunity resulting in an exchange of ideas and increased cultural activities which proved to be the very first stepping stone in what is today known as the hospitality sector the world over.
Traveling for Pleasure
The concept of casual travel came into existence during the reign of the Romans. As better roads and infrastructure was developed; it made it easier for people to move quickly from one place to another compared to any other time in human history before the rise of the Romans. Romans loved Art and literature and were very keen on traveling as well as inviting people from faraway lands—the silk route serves as the best example for this which was a 12,000 KM long route stretching from the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the Pacific Ocean. As better infrastructure was constructed, trade and commerce grew manifolds leading a rise in the number of inns, guesthouses, etc. in that era.
Ancient India and the Middle Ages
India right from the beginning of time itself has been a land of travelers. King Ashoka was one king who traveled a lot, first due to the desire of conquering vast swathes of land and then to spread the message of peace and brotherhood once he got introduced to Buddhism. He traveled far and wide: from Pataliputra to the birthplace of Buddha; moving onto Kapilvastu where Buddha spent his childhood; before moving to the place of Buddha’s enlightenment, Gaya. Ashoka has been known to have created a lot of guesthouses along the way for travelers to rest and recuperate. Dharamshalas or places where one can stay either for free or a small fee were first started by King Harsha. Thus, the very first guesthouses and inns were established in India.
By the time the middle ages arrived, people had begun to travel by both land and sea taking the concept of hospitality with them far and wide to all the places they visited during their travels. Some of the most famous travelers of this era were Marco Polo, who traveled the whole of Europe and Asia; Iban Batutah left his home in Morocco to undertake voyages that spanned across continents and John of Monte, who traveled all over the world in his quest for knowledge.
The Rise of Modern Tourism
As civilization evolved and new forms of transportations were discovered like railways, airplanes, ships and cars; we as humans began to travel farther and more frequently. And today, the tourism industry has expanded resulting in the boom of the hospitality industry we see today. Humble guesthouses have grown to become sprawling hotels having the best of amenities one can imagine to resorts which give the feeling of peace and serenity. In fact, today we can travel to any part of the world in a day’s time and be back the very next day. Moreover, the competition has given rise to players like HotelsByDay, who offer Day use hotels for people visiting for a very short duration along with hotels which offer complete packages for people keen on spending more time in a foreign location.
Isn’t it amazing what started as a concept of providing individuals with a simple shelter without any frills has boomed into an industry worth billions of dollars in revenue each year? As they say that the biggest innovations start out as a mere idea; the travel industry too has grown by leaps and bounds today. Throughout human history, mankind has been traveling and we will continue to travel as long we exist and we should thank our ancestors for creating the world we see today, for if they hadn’t explored, we as a species, would not have evolved to achieve the feats we have!
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