One of the common IELTS topics that appears in the exam is that of travel and tourism. In today’s lesson, I will help you learn about this topic so that you can do well in your next test.
First we will look at a little vocabulary about travel and tourism, then we will explore some IELTS speaking and writing questions to give you an idea of what to expect.
Vocabulary about Travel and Tourism for IELTS
When you prepare for IELTS, you never need to know any specialist vocabulary, so for questions about travel and tourism you may find that you can give a brilliant answer with just simple language, as long as it is used with grammatical accuracy. Knowing the difference between “I went to London” and “I was going to London” is very important, for example.
Of course, there are other things to know. It helps to know modes of transport and related vocabulary. [You can learn about transport here.] Another interesting aspect is knowing things you might encounter while travelling, such as accommodation.
I made this PPT about travel accommodation many years ago, but I have just uploaded it today. 🙃 I hope you find it useful.
You should also know the necessary language to talk about types of travel or reasons for taking a trip. Sometimes, new words enter the language, such as “staycation,” which is a very recent portmanteau.
You might also find this list of synonyms for “trip” quite useful:
Travel and Tourism Questions [IELTS Speaking]
The topic of travel and tourism is really common in IELTS speaking. It could easily occur in any of the three parts of this test, so you should be prepared to answer a wide range of questions. [You can find some examples here.]
These questions will be pretty general and simple. It is entirely possible that the same basic question could be asked in a number of different ways.
Perhaps the most common question would be “do you like travelling?” This is very similar to “have you done much travelling?” Of course, the focus has changed slightly but the overall meaning is similar: it’s about you and travel.
I’ll give two sample answers to these questions so that you can understand better:
Q: Do you like travelling?
A: Yeah, I absolutely love travelling. I have visited many countries over the past few years, but of course this all stopped recently because of the virus.
Q: Have you done much travelling?
A: I have done quite a lot of travelling in my life. Altogether, I’ve visited about 50 countries and I try to spend a few weeks each year seeing new places.
Note: It is unlikely that these questions would be asked together because they are very similar. Also, I pretty much answered the second one in the middle of the first answer. I just included them to show how a “do you like travelling” IELTS answer example.
Vaguely Related: Space Travel
I definitely consider space to be a separate topic from travel, but there is some small degree of overlap here. For example, there is a reported IELTS speaking question that goes something like this:
- Do you want to travel in outer space?
- Would you want to travel in outer space?
You might also see this incorrectly reported as “do you want to travel in the outer space?” but this is not correct. We cannot say “the” before “outer space.” It is not a single, definite place. [Read about definite articles here.]
There are numerous possibilities for IELTS cue cards about travel. Here are two of them:
- Describe a place you have visited.
- Describe a place you would like to visit.
Of course, these would require basically the same sort of vocabulary to answer them, but the key difference would be the grammar. In the first instance, you are talking about the past, but in the second you are talking about a possible future.
Here is another one:
- Describe a memorable holiday.
This is pretty similar to the first cue card above, but the word “memorable” must guide our approach. You can see my answer in this video:
In part three of the IELTS speaking test, the questions will become more difficult. These will include abstract topics like age, gender, ethics, and so on. You might encounter questions like this:
Q: Do you think men and women enjoy different types of holiday?
A: I suppose that in general they probably do have different preferences, but of course we should acknowledge the fact that everyone is different and so there are women who enjoy stereotypically male holidays and men that enjoy stereotypically female ones. To give an example, it could be argued that men prefer more active, robust holidays that involve uncertainty, adventure, and even danger. However, I know some women who love this type of thing and so it is not really smart to make assumptions about people.
Q: Do you think that travelling abroad always changes people’s perspective on life?
A: No, not at all. While it certainly is possible that travelling can change people’s perspectives, it is by no means guaranteed. In fact, when you travel to places like Thailand, you see that most tourists have no understanding of the local culture and just hold on to their own original views. The experience may change some people, but I think most people live in a little bubble when they go abroad, and this prevents them from really learning anything.
Notes: I described the sort of travel that men like in interesting terms: “men prefer more active, robust holidays that involve uncertainty, adventure, and even danger.” This is good, descriptive language!
Travel and Tourism Essays for IELTS Writing
Now we shall move on from speaking and instead look at the IELTS writing test. In this section, I will show you some questions about travel and tourism, then show you my sample band 9 answer.
Here is a question that features data about people travelling. I thought that this travel and tourism essay was really interesting, so I have included it here alongside my sample answer.
The line graph displays the numbers of tourists that visited an unnamed Caribbean island between 2010 and 2017. The tourists are divided into two groups – those staying on cruise ships and those staying on the island itself – and these had a loosely inverse correlation. The total number of visitors, however, rose more or less continuously throughout the eight-year period.
In the first year recorded, which was 2010, there were about twice as many tourists staying on the island as those staying on cruise ships. A year later, the number staying on cruise ships doubled to a half million, but this dropped back to around a quarter million in 2012. When the figures for tourists on cruise ships dropped, the number staying on the island rose quickly and over the coming few years, as this sudden increased levelled off, the number of people who stayed on board their ship continued to grow again.
Between 2012 and 2017, there were more and more visitors staying on cruise ships. From just a quarter million, this rose to two million, while the figures for those on the island levelled off at just one and a half million and then dropped slightly in the penultimate year, before finishing at one and a half. This meant that, for the final two years, more tourists stayed on cruise ships than on the island.
Notes on the Answer
In the introduction, I said “an unnamed Caribbean island.” It can sometimes be difficult to introduce something whose name you don’t know, and this is a really convenient way to do it. I strongly recommend you say “an unnamed ___” when this situation arises.
I have also used very few numbers in this essay. Instead of writing 250,000 or 2,000,000, I have said things like “a quarter million” and “two million.” This is much easier. [You can read more about IELTS and numbers here.]
Here is another travel and tourism essay question:
In future, more people will choose to go on holidays in their own country and not travel abroad on holiday.
Do you agree or disagree?
Sample Band 9 Answer
In recent years, people have coined the word “staycation” to describe the phenomenon of taking a holiday closer to home. This essay will argue that such holidays will become more common in the future.
First of all, it may seem as though international travel will become increasingly common, but in fact it is quite clear that it is an unsustainable trend. The carbon cost of flying to another country is enormous, and so many people have begun to ask whether it is ethical to continue doing this. Beyond just the personal level, it is clear that pretty soon governments will have to impose restrictions to limit the number of flights; otherwise, the world will suffer immensely from the burden of so many journeys.
In many parts of the world, people are probably ready to embrace this situation. Humans have had a terrible impact upon the world and many feel that it is time to undo the damage done. This involves some measure of personal sacrifice, which in this case could be forgoing the sort of international trips that used to be quite common. However, this is not all bad. Although foreign countries and exotic locations are exciting, there are treasures almost everywhere. Countries like the UK have poor weather, which is why so many people travel to warmer climates, but the natural beauty of the landscape and the extraordinary historical and cultural sites present myriad options for curious travellers. There will likely be a resurgence of interest in such trips.
In conclusion, it is quite possible that in the future people will realise how much damage humans have done to the world. Many of them may endeavour to make the sort of sacrifices necessary to counteract this ecological destruction, and one small step is embracing local travel.
Notes on the Essay
First of all, you can see that I incorporated the word “staycation” right at the beginning. When you use modern language like this, please don’t just jam it carelessly into your essay. Often, it is very informal, so you can only use it when properly introduced. In this case, I clearly explained its meaning and commented upon it from a sociological perspective.
Here is some more travel and tourism vocabulary from my essay:
- unsustainable trend
- carbon cost
- impose restrictions
- international trips
- exotic locations
- warmer climates
- myriad options
- ecological destruction
You can see that a lot of my language related to the environment, and of course that is often tied to the topic of travel and tourism because of the negative impacts these have on our planet.
I hope that you enjoyed my IELTS essays on travel and tourism, as well as the sample speaking answers I provided. Please remember that your own answers should be unique to you. Don’t try to copy others too much. Your vocabulary will depend upon your life experiences and the places you would or wouldn’t like to visit.