Who Could Afford to Buy a Guidebook? Socioeconomic Determinants of the Development of Tourism in the Polish Lands in the 19th Century

Dominik Ziarkowski
European Research Studies Journal, Volume XXIV, Issue 4B, 331-343, 2021
DOI: 10.35808/ersj/2659


Purpose: The aim of the paper is to characterize Polish tourist guidebooks of the 19th century in terms of their accessibility for the readers of the time. Major barriers to accessing this type of literature were identified, including the poor state of education, lack of financial resources to travel, and the high prices of guidebooks (especially those published in the first half of the century). Design/Methodology/Approach: The research methodology is based on the analysis of sources from the period discussed, especially the guidebooks and journals containing information about them. The research findings were confronted with the scientific literature on tourism development and guidebook publications from this period. Findings: The research has shown that a great number of Polish tourist guidebooks were written in the 19th century despite the fact that the country was then divided into partitions. Most of the analyzed publications concerned cities, but there were also guidebooks to specific monuments, health resorts, and mountains. The readers of the guidebooks were primarily educated people with at least an average standard of living, who had a regular income that allowed them to travel and purchase books. The prices of the oldest guidebooks were high, but over time, these publications became relatively much cheaper. Practical implications: The study may have an impact on the development of academic research on the economic aspects of tourism in the 19th century. The findings may also serve the creators of contemporary guidebooks, indicating the desired features of these publications from the tourists’ point of view. Originality/Value: The paper broadens the knowledge on socioeconomic aspects of the functioning of Polish guidebooks in the 19th century and presents these issues in the broader context of European guidebook literature of the period.

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