In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Tourism

  • Introduction
  • Children as Tourists
  • Educational Tourism and Education in Tourism
  • Children’s Perceptions of Tourists and Tourism
  • Children Working in Tourism
  • Children as Aid Recipients within Volunteer/Humanitarian Tourism

Childhood Studies Tourism
Aviva Sinervo
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791231-0131


Traditionally, the field of tourism studies did not focus specifically on children. Children, when mentioned, were discussed as members of families without recognition of their specific needs and perceptions. Likewise, tourism was not one of the early areas to be discussed within the developing field of childhood studies, where children were first taken seriously as agents in their own right. As a result, much of the research that brings these fields together has emerged in the last several decades and more remains to be done to bring light to children’s experiences as tourists (“guests”), industry workers (“hosts”), or recipients of the benefits and challenges—economic, social, cultural, and political—that tourism brings. The majority of research on children as hosts focuses on child sex tourism. As guests, research concentrates on the role children play in family holiday decision making. Some scholars with a focus on street children, child labor, or children’s aid interrogate these themes within the context of the global tourism industry. As a result, scholars exploring childhood and tourism together now come from fields as diverse as anthropology, business and marketing, criminal and legal studies, geography, health, sociology, tourism management, and urban studies. While leisure studies, which has often been combined with the study of tourism, does have a longer history of engagement with childhood, such studies are included in this article only when they are specifically connected to tourism. In addition, interest is growing in young people’s travel experiences. Some of this research is addressed in the section on Educational Tourism and Education in Tourism; however, this article largely engages sources concerned with “children” as opposed to “youth.” The conventions each author chooses are followed, and I do not attempt to impose my own definition of where “childhood” ends and “youth” begins.


Several journals are used frequently by scholars discussing tourism, on the one hand, and childhood, on the other. Tourism studies journals cover a range of disciplines, including anthropology, architecture, environmental studies, geography, history, law, politics, sociology, and urban planning and design. Many of them also have an applied focus. Journals on Childhood do not regularly publish pieces on tourism; however, notable exceptions include Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy and Care (cited under Childhood). The childhood journals listed below are useful for understanding themes relevant to childhood and tourism, such as urban political economies, children’s everyday experiences, and children’s rights.

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