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“World’s most visited cities”

Emergence of leisure travel[edit]

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Englishman in the Campagna by Carl Spitzweg (c. 1845)

Leisure travel was associated with the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom – the first European country to promote leisure time to the increasing industrial population.[38] Initially, this applied to the owners of the machinery of production, the economic oligarchy, factory owners and traders. These comprised the new middle class.[38] Cox & Kings was the first official travel company to be formed in 1758.[39]

The British origin of this new industry is reflected in many place names. In Nice, France, one of the first and best-established holiday resorts on the French Riviera, the long esplanade along the seafront is known to this day as the Promenade des Anglais; in many other historic resorts in continental Europe, old, well-established palace hotels have names like the Hotel BristolHotel Carlton, or Hotel Majestic – reflecting the dominance of English customers.

Panels from the Thomas Cook Building in Leicester, displaying excursions offered by Thomas Cook

Leicester railway station – built in 1894 to replace, largely on the same site, Campbell Street station, the origin for many of Cook’s early tours.

A pioneer of the travel agency business, Thomas Cook‘s idea to offer excursions came to him while waiting for the stagecoach on the London Road at Kibworth. With the opening of the extended Midland Counties Railway, he arranged to take a group of 540 temperance campaignersfrom Leicester Campbell Street station to a rally in Loughborough, eleven miles (18 km) away. On 5 July 1841