Within the service sector, activities related to culture, leisure and tourism have been the focus of a big part of the attention of the transformation of the new forms of networks and contemporary economic markets. Within this dynamic, Tourism stands out as one of the most important economic activities of the turn of the century due to being an indisputable factor of development and human exchange in our current society.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska
Photo by Anna Dziubinska

This economic and social phenomenon can be defined as an activity of mobility carried out by individuals in a territory different from the one they live in. At the same time, the acquisition of goods away from their place of residence is one of the main objectives for the travelers when choosing a travel destination. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) defines Tourism as «…the activities realized by people during their trips and stays in places different from their usual environment for a consecutive period of time lower than a year, for leisure Shopping, for business or other motives». The activities the tourists can realize in a certain destination are varied, from relaxing on a beach (Tourism of sun and beach), making cultural visits (Cultural Tourism) or going Shopping (Shopping Tourism).

We can also regard Shopping Tourism as a practice focused on the acquisition of products and services in the visited place. There is, however, no globally accepted definition of this activity for various reasons, mainly due to the multiple actors that participate in this type of tourism, additionally to the acquired product or even the mode of getting it.

Though this phenomenon isn’t new, given that it has had a constant evolution since the mid-20th century, the idea of going shopping has stopped being an activity exclusively related to leisure and has become a practice that has transformed destinations and the tourist offer.

Author: Global Journey Consulting
Author: Global Journey Consulting

In consequence, this evolution has given us not only the concept of Shopping Tourism of products (traditional concept) but also of Shopping Tourism of services, tourism of virtual shopping (related to communities with an E-commerce offer) and the consumption of places, spaces and time. Shopping by themselves constitute a tourist activity or travel experience. For this reason, we can state that in recent years this type of tourism has become:

  • A frequent and growing motivation for tourists.
  • A transversal activity in the tourism sector.
  • A product of major growth within the sector.
  • One of the practices with the highest expectations due to its potential.

According to the EU White Paper of Trade, going shopping and realizing tourism are two related activities in tourist destinations and the trade sector maintains an intense and direct correspondence to the tourist activity.

Currently, the touristic and commercial sectors unite their forces as motors of economic and social development due to their character of dynamization and complementarity, in a way that this joint effect is greater than the sum of the effects that can be reached separately as they help improve the competitiveness of the tourist destination, as well as that of its commercial area, by generating new forms of social development and economic benefit in the receiving territories.

Global Journey Consulting applied its own methodology to correctly define Shopping Tourism from two sides:


  • Focused on the offer of known brands on both on an international and a national level. These brands are mainly localized in commercial centers and emblematic streets of some cities.


  • Constituted by industries, creative industries, retailers, craft shops and establishments related to the Orange Economy.
  • Proposes a vision that integrates the local industries of a territorial space under the concept of Shopping Tourism.
  • This type of tourism allows to offer the traveler a unique and different experience to get to know and acquire products elaborated exclusively in said tourist destination whose cultural identity is characteristic of that territory.

It’s important to clarify that while Shopping Tourism of transnational products is related to select urban destinations and usually associated with the shopping of products of international brands, many tourists bet on the local products, elaborated in a certain space of the visited territory, due to them standing out for the techniques and ancestral materials typical of their society.

Global Journey Consulting has developed distinct methodological applications for each type of Shopping Tourism, whether it’s of Transnational Products and/or Products of Cultural Identity.
Shopping Tourism is a fundamental catalyst for the evolution of the tourist model due to the following factors:

  • The high Shopping capacity of the tourist.
  • The de-seasonalizing effect of the demand.
  • The differentiation of the destination.
  • The unique travel experience for the consumers of each destination.
  • The promotion of the cultural identity of the territory.
  • The capacity for globalizing the local retailers.
  • The design, development and promotion of a tourist offer of quality.
  • The differentiating tourist offer.
  • The training of the staff.
  • The loyalty of the tourists.
  • The increase of benefit of the tourist industry.
  • The balance of the social benefits.
  • The increase of the tourist flow and spending.
Photo by GJC

In the advanced and emerging economies, the development of Shopping Tourism is a main phenomenon for managers of tourism policies, academics and business leaders in every part of the world.


One of the characteristics of Shopping Tourism is its transversality with other tourism sectors, mainly hostelry, gastronomy, transport, etc., as well as with other types of tourism, such as the tourism of events and congresses (MICE), cruise ship tourism, business tourism, etc., as in all the types of tourism that we know the traveller-tourist has the deep need to bring something from the place he has visited with him, whether for his own enjoyment or to offer and gift to others. Who can say that they haven’t bought anything during the trip?

Whether the tourist has the making shopping as a main goal of the trip or if the goal is something else and shopping become secondary or complementary, we all like to take a souvenir from the visited place with us or to buy some product to offer it to family and friends, strengthening the idea of remembrance and empathy while having been away from the social or familiar sphere.

Through shopping, the tourist can acquire knowledge about the identity of the territory, which increases their interest in and personal appreciation of it, turning into a loyal future consumer of this or other destinations.

The increase of the tourist flow and of the spending generated by Shopping Tourism is proportional to the increase of profit of the tourism industry and to the balance of the social benefits; it also makes the creation of new sustainable tourism jobs possible, brings globalisation to the local retailers and promotes the training of the staff.

All this contributes to the development of a touristic offer of quality, allowing the tourist to live a unique travel experience in every destination.