Travel History: Thomas Cook
During the 1870s, a new 'movement' was to be observed in England. The English suddenly travelled in larger groups than any other nation. Only a few decades ago travelling was almost exclusively reserved for a small elite, the upper class. When Briton Thomas Cook started his tours for the ordinary people, the socially conscious Victorians protested. The prospect of foreign travel within reach attracted so many people, that the British vice-consul in La Spezia accused Cook of 'swamping Europe with everything that is low-bred, vulgar and ridiculous.' In reply, the Telegraph reported: 'It is, or has been, the fashion amongst some empty-headed persons to sneer at "Cook's Tourists". Pretending to imagine that the pleasures of travel should be reserved for the upper classes, they protested against the beauties of Nature being examined by any but persons of high quality, and seemed to think that the grey Highlands, the quaint Belgian cities, the castled Rhine crags, the glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls of Switzerland and the blue plains of Italy, were exhibitions which should be open only to holders of high-priced stall tickets'. Soon Thomas Cook started making travel arrangements for Dukes and Archbishops and members of the 'accepted' classes of society and in the end he catered for both ends of the travel market. Successfully.
Picture: Thomas Cook in Egypt.
Source: "The Golden Age of Travel", by Andrew Williamson