Glossary of Travel and Tourism Terms

The “Glossary of Travel and Tourism Terms” is an essential reference tool for industry professionals and travelers alike, providing clear and concise definitions for a wide range of terms used within the travel and tourism sector.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z


À la carte: This term, borrowed from French, literally means “according to the menu.” In travel and tourism, it often refers to dining options where guests can choose individual items from a menu, each priced separately, as opposed to a set menu or buffet. A la carte can also apply to services or amenities offered individually, allowing customers to tailor their experience by selecting only what they want, potentially leading to a more personalized and satisfying experience.

ABC islands (Leeward Antilles): The ABC islands is the physical group of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, the three westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.

Abandon ship: A command to immediately evacuate the vessel, typically issued in response to an impending, severe threat. This directive comes from the ship’s captain or an authorized individual in command and is given verbally. It represents a final measure, taken only after all other attempts to mitigate the danger have failed or are no longer feasible, signaling that the ship’s destruction or loss is unavoidable. This order is generally succeeded by instructions to “man the lifeboats” or life rafts.

Aboard: Aboard refers to being on or within a vehicle, such as a ship, aircraft, train, or bus, typically indicating that one has entered the vehicle and is physically present inside it. The term is often used in phrases like “all aboard” to signal that passengers should embark or have already embarked on the vehicle in preparation for departure. It signifies the transition from being outside to inside the mode of transportation, highlighting the start of a journey or the inclusion of individuals within the vehicle’s confines for travel.

Accommodation: Any form of housing or lodging provided for travelers, ranging from hotels and resorts to hostels and campgrounds, tailored to suit various budgets and preferences.

Activity/Activities: In the context of travel and tourism, activities refer to various experiences or pursuits available to travelers during their trips. These can range from outdoor adventures like hiking, biking, and snorkeling, to cultural experiences such as museum visits, cooking classes, and historical tours. Activities are central to the travel experience, allowing travelers to engage with the destination, learn new skills, or simply enjoy leisure time.

Accessible Tourism: Accessible tourism is an inclusive practice that ensures tourist destinations, products, and services are accessible to all people, regardless of their physical, sensory, or cognitive limitations. It involves thoughtful design and planning to accommodate the needs of travelers with disabilities, ensuring they can travel safely, comfortably, and enjoyably. This includes accessible accommodations, transportation, attractions, and facilities, aiming to create barrier-free travel experiences for everyone.

Accessible Travel: Similar to accessible tourism, accessible travel focuses on making travel and transportation options available and convenient for people with disabilities. This includes providing information, services, and features that cater to various accessibility needs, such as wheelchair ramps, tactile guides for the visually impaired, and hearing loops for the hearing impaired. Accessible travel seeks to empower individuals with disabilities to explore the world with independence and dignity.

Actual Time of Arrival: The Actual Time of Arrival (ATA) refers to the precise time at which a vehicle, such as an airplane, ship, train, or bus, reaches its destination. It is the real, recorded time that the vehicle arrives at a specific location, which may differ from the initially scheduled or estimated time of arrival due to various factors like weather conditions, traffic, or operational delays. ATA is a critical metric in transportation and logistics for assessing performance, planning subsequent activities, and providing accurate information to passengers or cargo recipients.

Add-on: An add-on in the context of travel and tourism refers to an additional feature, service, or product that can be purchased in conjunction with a primary offering. It is not included in the basic package or price and is offered as an extra to enhance the travel experience. Add-ons can range from extra legroom on flights, additional luggage allowance, and seat selection to hotel room upgrades, car rental insurance, or special activity packages. These options allow travelers to customize their journey according to their preferences and needs, often leading to a more personalized and satisfying travel experience.

Adjoining Rooms: These are hotel rooms that are located next to each other, often connected by a common door. This setup is ideal for families or groups who wish to stay close to each other while maintaining privacy. Each room has its own entrance from the main hallway, allowing occupants to move between rooms without going into the corridor.

Adoption Rate: In the context of travel and tourism, this term often refers to the rate at which travelers or consumers adopt new technologies, services, or practices introduced in the market. For example, the adoption rate of mobile check-in services at hotels or airports measures how quickly and widely these innovations are being used by the public.

Advance Purchase Fare: A type of fare that is often lower than standard prices, requiring travelers to purchase their tickets a specified number of days before their intended departure date. Airlines, trains, and other transportation services offer these fares to encourage early bookings, which helps them manage capacity and cash flow.

Advance Purchase Requirement (APR): This is a condition applied to certain discounted fares, stipulating that travelers must buy their tickets a certain period before the departure date. Failing to meet the APR can result in higher fares or the unavailability of the discounted rate.

Adventure Tour: An adventure tour is a pre-arranged, often guided, travel package that includes activities designed to provide an adrenaline rush or a sense of exploration and discovery. These tours cater to individuals or groups looking to experience activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, zip-lining, rock climbing, or wildlife safaris. Adventure tours are planned with a specific focus on interacting with nature, exploring new cultures, or undertaking physical challenges, often in remote or exotic locations.

Adventure Tourism: Adventure tourism involves traveling to destinations where the primary attractions include physical activity, exploration, and experiencing the natural environment. It is characterized by its emphasis on active engagement with the outdoors, often involving elements of risk and physical exertion. Adventure tourism can range from soft adventures, like hiking and bird-watching, to hard adventures that involve extreme sports and high-risk activities, such as mountaineering or base jumping. This sector of tourism is driven by tourists seeking unusual and thrilling experiences.

Adventure Travel: Adventure travel is a type of tourism that involves exploring or traveling to remote or exotic areas, engaging in physical activity, and experiencing the natural world. It goes beyond traditional tourism by pushing the boundaries of personal experience and often involves interaction with different cultures or the environment. Adventure travel can include activities such as trekking, biking, rafting, or cultural immersion. It is defined by the traveler’s desire for new and challenging experiences, personal growth, and the opportunity to connect with nature and local traditions.

Adventure Traveler: An adventure traveler is an individual who seeks out travel experiences that involve exploration, adventure, and often physical activity. These travelers are characterized by their enthusiasm for experiencing new cultures, environments, and challenges. They prefer travel that is immersive and engaging, often involving activities such as trekking, scuba diving, rock climbing, or participating in local cultural activities. Adventure travelers are typically open to new experiences, willing to step outside their comfort zones, and keen on personal growth and environmental sustainability.

Affinity Card: A type of credit or debit card that is co-branded with organizations, such as airlines, hotels, or charities, offering benefits related to the co-branding partner. Users might earn points for flights, hotel stays, or donations to charity with each purchase, which can be redeemed for rewards or perks.

Affinity Group: A group formed around a shared interest or purpose, which travels together or avails of travel-related services. This can include clubs, associations, or communities traveling for leisure, cultural, professional, or educational reasons. Travel services often offer tailored packages or discounts to such groups.

After-departure Charge: Fees or charges levied on a traveler after they have embarked on their journey, often for services or amendments not included in the original ticket or package, such as flight changes, upgrades, or additional services availed during the stay. These charges can also apply to penalties for changes made by the traveler after departure.

Agent: In the context of travel and tourism, an agent refers to a professional or an organization that acts as an intermediary between customers and service providers. Travel agents offer a wide range of services including booking flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages. They use their expertise and industry connections to plan and arrange travel for individuals, groups, and businesses, often providing personalized advice, itinerary planning, and access to special deals or rates. Agents can work in brick-and-mortar travel agencies, online, or as independent contractors, helping travelers navigate complex travel arrangements and offering solutions tailored to their needs.

Air Traffic Control (ATC): Air Traffic Control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and through controlled airspace, and can provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace. The primary purpose of ATC is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots. By managing aircraft movements, ATC ensures safety and efficiency in the skies and airports, coordinating take-offs, landings, and en-route navigation.

Air Travel Card: The Air Travel Card is a payment card (credit or charge card) issued by airlines or financial institutions that allows travelers to purchase air tickets. Historically, it was the first of its kind to be used in the travel industry, offering a way for businesses to manage their travel expenses more efficiently. Today, it might also refer to co-branded airline cards that offer frequent flyer miles or points for purchases, which can be redeemed for airline tickets, upgrades, or other travel-related benefits.

Air Travel: Air travel refers to the act of traveling from one location to another via an aircraft, such as airplanes, helicopters, and jets. It is one of the fastest modes of transportation, enabling long-distance travel across cities, countries, and continents in a matter of hours. Air travel has revolutionized the way people explore the world, facilitating international business, tourism, and cultural exchange. It includes commercial flights, private flights, and all aspects of passenger and cargo services provided by the aviation industry.

Aircraft: An aircraft is any vehicle capable of atmospheric flight due to interaction with the air, such as buoyancy or lift. This broad category includes airplanes, helicopters, gliders, and drones. Aircraft can be designed for various purposes, including transportation of passengers and goods, military applications, recreational flying, and emergency services. The design and operation of aircraft are governed by stringent safety and regulatory standards to ensure safe air travel.

Airline Alliance: An airline alliance is a partnership in which airlines agree to cooperate extensively, often to provide a network of routes and destinations that surpasses what each could offer individually. Members of an alliance share resources, codeshare flights, coordinate schedules, offer mutual frequent flyer program benefits, and provide seamless travel experiences for passengers. Major airline alliances, such as Star Alliance, SkyTeam, and Oneworld, help airlines increase efficiency, expand their global presence, and enhance customer service.

Airline Fare: An airline fare is the price charged by an airline for one passenger to travel from one point to another. Fares can vary widely based on factors such as the route, class of service (e.g., economy, business, first class), timing of the purchase, and the level of flexibility regarding changes or cancellations. Airlines use complex pricing strategies to manage demand and maximize revenue, offering a range of fare options to cater to different traveler needs and preferences.

Airport Access Fee: An airport access fee is a charge imposed on transportation providers by an airport for the privilege of picking up or dropping off passengers at the airport premises. This fee can apply to taxis, shuttle services, ride-sharing vehicles, and sometimes private vehicles, depending on the airport’s policies. The purpose of the fee is to help cover the maintenance and operational costs associated with the airport’s infrastructure, such as roadways, signage, and facilities for passenger pick-up and drop-off areas. The cost of this fee may be passed on to passengers as part of their fare.

Airport Code: An Airport Code, also known as an IATA location identifier, is a unique three-letter code designated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to identify airports around the world. These codes are used to simplify the identification of airports on flight schedules, luggage tags, tickets, and in aviation and logistics operations. Airport codes are derived from the names of the cities they serve, the name of the airport, or notable abbreviations and combinations thereof. For example, JFK represents John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, LAX stands for Los Angeles International Airport, and LHR is used for London Heathrow Airport. These codes are essential for travelers, airline personnel, and logistics providers for ensuring the accuracy of travel, shipping, and cargo routing information.

Airport Transfer: An airport transfer is a pre-arranged transportation service for travelers to get from the airport to their final destination, such as a hotel, home, or other local point of interest, and vice versa. Transfers can be provided by hotels, private shuttle services, taxis, ride-sharing companies, or public transportation. They range from shared shuttles and private car services to luxury limousines. Airport transfers are often booked in advance to ensure convenience and efficiency for travelers upon arrival or departure, eliminating the need to secure transport at the last minute.

All Inclusive: The term “All Inclusive” refers to a pricing model typically used by resorts and hotels, where one price covers all the main components of a vacation or stay, including accommodation, meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and often a range of activities and entertainment options. This model is designed for travelers seeking a hassle-free vacation experience without worrying about the costs of individual services. It’s particularly popular in vacation destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, and parts of Europe.

All-inclusive Package: An all-inclusive package is a travel deal that bundles together various elements of a trip for a single price. This includes not only lodging and meals but also can extend to airfare, ground transportation, tours, activities, and sometimes even tips. These packages are offered by resorts, cruise lines, and tour operators aiming to provide a complete vacation experience with minimal extra expenses. The convenience and value of all-inclusive packages make them a favored option for many travelers, especially families and couples.

Alternative Tourism: Alternative tourism is a concept that stands in contrast to mass tourism, focusing on travel that is sustainable, responsible, and often involves smaller groups. It emphasizes experiences that are authentic, culturally sensitive, and environmentally friendly. This type of tourism often involves staying in local accommodations, engaging in local traditions, and supporting local economies. Examples include ecotourism, voluntourism, rural tourism, and cultural exchange programs. The goal is to create a positive impact on the destinations visited and promote a deeper understanding and respect between travelers and host communities.

Alternative Travel: Similar to alternative tourism, alternative travel is a broad term that encompasses various forms of travel aimed at experiencing a destination in a more meaningful, responsible, and sustainable way. It rejects the conventional tourist paths and seeks out experiences that are off the beaten track, environmentally aware, and culturally enriching. Alternative travel may include backpacking, staying with local hosts, participating in community projects, or exploring remote areas. The focus is on personal growth, environmental sustainability, and positive community engagement.

Alumni Tour: An alumni tour is a travel experience designed specifically for the alumni of educational institutions, such as colleges, universities, or even high schools. These tours are organized by alumni associations or specialized travel companies and aim to offer former students unique travel experiences that also serve as opportunities for educational enrichment, cultural exploration, and reconnecting with peers. Alumni tours can vary widely in their focus, from cultural immersion and adventure travel to educational seminars and leisure cruises, and often include special access to sites or events, expert guides, and lectures related to the alumni group’s shared interests or field of study.

Ambassador: In the context of travel and tourism, an ambassador often refers to a representative or spokesperson for a travel brand, destination, or specific tourism campaign. Ambassadors are selected for their ability to positively represent and promote the destination or brand to potential travelers through various channels, including social media, public appearances, and personal engagement. They may share experiences, offer travel tips, and highlight attractions to encourage tourism. In a broader sense, ambassadors can also be tourists who share their positive travel experiences with others, acting informally as advocates for the places they visit.

Amenities: Amenities are the additional features and services provided by a hotel, resort, or other accommodations to enhance the comfort and convenience of guests. These can include tangible items and facilities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, Wi-Fi, room service, and toiletries, as well as intangible services like concierge assistance and 24-hour reception. Amenities are designed to meet guests’ needs and expectations, contributing to a more enjoyable and comfortable stay.

Amenity Package: An amenity package refers to a bundled set of services and features offered by accommodations or travel providers to enhance the guest experience. These packages can vary widely but typically include a selection of perks such as complimentary breakfast, spa services, airport transfers, dining credits, or access to exclusive areas like lounges or private beaches. Amenity packages are often tailored to specific types of travelers, such as couples on honeymoon, business travelers, or families, providing added value and convenience during their stay.

AMEX: AMEX is an abbreviation for American Express, a multinational financial services corporation known for its credit card, charge card, and traveler’s cheque businesses. In the travel industry, American Express is notable for offering products and services tailored to travelers, including co-branded credit cards with airlines and hotels that offer travel-related rewards and benefits. AMEX cards are widely accepted globally, making them a popular choice among travelers for booking flights, hotels, and other travel services, as well as for secure transactions while abroad.

APEX: APEX stands for Advance Purchase Excursion Fare. It is a type of discounted airfare that requires passengers to purchase their tickets a certain number of days in advance of the departure date. APEX fares are typically non-refundable and may have restrictions on changes, making them less flexible but more affordable than full-fare tickets. These fares are offered by airlines to encourage early booking and to help manage flight capacities efficiently.

API (Application Programming Interface): An API is a set of protocols, routines, and tools for building software and applications, which allows different computer programs to communicate with each other. In the travel industry, APIs play a crucial role by enabling the integration of services and data between travel companies and third-party providers. For example, a hotel’s booking system might use an API to share its availability and rates in real time with online travel agencies (OTAs), allowing customers to make reservations directly through the OTA’s platform. Similarly, airlines, car rental services, and activity providers use APIs to distribute their products across various sales channels, improve operational efficiency, and enhance the customer experience by providing up-to-date information and seamless booking processes.

Apron: The apron, also known as the ramp, is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled, or boarded. The apron is a critical part of airport ground operations, providing space for various maintenance tasks, as well as for ground support vehicles to service the aircraft. The apron is distinct from the runway and taxiway, which are used for aircraft landing, taking off, and taxiing.

Archipelago: An archipelago is a group or chain of islands clustered together in a sea or ocean. These islands can be formed through volcanic activity, erosion, and sedimentation. Archipelagos are often characterized by their diverse ecosystems, unique cultures, and historical significance. They are popular destinations for tourists seeking natural beauty, wildlife observation, and water-based activities such as snorkeling, diving, and sailing.

ASTA: ASTA stands for the American Society of Travel Advisors. It is a professional association representing the travel industry, particularly travel agents, agencies, and suppliers. ASTA works to promote and facilitate the expansion of the travel industry through advocacy, education, and professional development. It also serves as a resource for travel agents and provides guidelines and standards to ensure high levels of professionalism and service within the industry.

Attractions: In travel and tourism, attractions refer to places, events, or activities that draw visitors by offering cultural, historical, natural, or recreational experiences. Attractions can range from natural wonders, such as national parks and beaches, to man-made sites like museums, theme parks, and historical monuments. They play a crucial role in the tourism economy, influencing the choice of destination and enhancing the visitor experience.

Autobahn: The Autobahn is the federal controlled-access highway system in Germany, known for its sections without speed limits for cars and motorcycles. The Autobahn is renowned for its efficient engineering, safety features, and being one of the first high-speed road networks in the world. It serves as a vital transport route for both domestic and international travel, facilitating the movement of people and goods across Germany and connecting to neighboring countries.

Average Daily Traffic – ADT: While not exclusively a travel and tourism term, it is relevant in planning and managing destinations, especially those reliant on road traffic. It represents the average number of vehicles passing a specific point in a given time period, typically a day, and is used for planning infrastructure and services.

Average Room Rate: The average room rate is a performance metric used by the hotel industry to measure the average revenue earned per rented room over a specific period. It is calculated by dividing the total room revenue by the number of rooms sold (excluding complimentary rooms). This metric helps hoteliers assess their pricing strategies, occupancy levels, and overall financial performance, providing insights for revenue management decisions.


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Scroll to Top