Story of Thomas Cook: How an Alcohol-Hating English Preacher Founded Global Tourism

Quite unbelievable to read this piece:

…when the Industrial Revolution dawned in the late 18th century, England—and then much of the rest of Western Europe and the U.S.—suddenly had a middle class with some disposable income. They, too, wanted to see the world, but their limited means meant they had to vacation close to home. That’s where they might have remained had an ambitious young cabinetmaker from central England not spotted this glaring gap in the market—and moved to expertly exploit it.

Cook’s venture was rooted not in a tourist’s desire to kick back a pint and visit a few historic sights, but in his fervor to keep would-be globetrotters from drinking in the first place. Convinced from an early age of the evils of alcohol, he spent much of the 1820s and ’30s walking the English countryside, spreading his religious message to all who’d listen and distributing pamphlets extolling the dangers of beer to those who wouldn’t. It was a desperately inefficient means of advancing his cause.

And so when the world’s first railway network began to open right on his doorstep, Cook was quick to recognize its value. By arranging free or discounted train trips, he could ferry large cohorts of temperance supporters to rallies across the country. With the development of telegram wires, 2,000 miles of which were laid in Britain by the early 1850s, he was soon even able to direct his temperance tourists’ itineraries from afar.

It didn’t take Cook much longer to grasp that these cash-churning expeditions might earn him more than heavenly favor. Putting his missionary work on hold, he started organizing and then guiding sightseers on trips around Britain. In 1855, he ventured over the English Channel to France, then to Switzerland a few years later. No sooner had the American Civil War ended than he shepherded a tour across the Atlantic to New York.

Really!

One Response to “Story of Thomas Cook: How an Alcohol-Hating English Preacher Founded Global Tourism”

  1. Prabhu Guptara Says:

    Your author there is clearly highly biased against Cook.

    Further, he attributes what would appear to be entirely false motives to Cook.

    For a proper biography, see Jill Hamilton’s “Thomas Cook, the Holidaymaker” (Sutton 2005).

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