Tourism Teacher

Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) is BIG. Here’s why

Disclaimer: Some posts on Tourism Teacher may contain affiliate links. If you appreciate this content, you can show your support by making a purchase through these links or by buying me a coffee . Thank you for your support!

Visiting friends and relatives, often referred to as VFR, is one of the most prominent types of tourism . Whether you are a tourism management student or a tourism industry entrepreneur, it is important that you understand this vital sector of the tourism industry .

In this article, I will tell you what is meant by the term ‘visiting friends and relatives’ (VFR) and where the term came from. I will also tell you a bit about the reasons why people might travel to visit friends and relatives and how this industry has grown in recent years. Lastly, I will give you some examples of where and how VFR might occur in a global context.

What is visiting friends and relatives (VFR)?

Is vfr tourism, where did the term vfr come from, changing patterns of visiting friends and relatives, globalisation, growing expat population, freedom of movement, desire to travel, degrowth in vfr, examples of vfr, to conclude: visiting friends and relatives (vfr).

Visiting friends and relatives is a term that we hear thrown around frequently within the tourism industry. And, to be frank- it’s actually not difficult to understand.

Essentially, VFR is the movement of a person away from the place in which they live to a place where a family member or friend lives. Within the context of tourism, it is a prerequisite that said visit is far enough away from the person’s home and lasts a long enough duration that it can be classified as ‘tourism’.

Does visiting my grandma for afternoon tea at her home in the next village count as tourism?

What about if I travel to Spain to stay with my dad for two weeks in the summer holidays?

Well, whilst it may seem pretty obvious (the first is not tourism and the second is), there is no hard and fast rule that says when VFR is and isn’t tourism.

If you have read some of my other posts, such as A Definition of Tourism , you will notice that this is a recurring theme in the tourism literature. It is all too common that the boundaries are blurred and that the grey areas leave the door open for subjectivity and ambiguity.

How do Governments measure VFR? How can we compare VFR industries across different parts of the world? The answer- who knows and, well- no.

visiting friends and relatives tourism

Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) is a concept that was defined by tourism industry stakeholders in order to better understand this sector of the tourism industry.

Segmentation of this type enabled travel industry researchers and academics to study the relationship between VFR travellers and aspects such as economic and social impacts of tourism .

By having a better understanding of the VFR sector, tourism businesses could be better informed to plan their operations. So, for example, hotels could better understand what facilities guests might be seeking and tourist attractions can understand what provisions may be needed for these types of tourists .

The notion of visiting friends and family, or VFR, has changed significantly over the years.

Migration patterns have changed a lot- think back to the advent of the slave trade compared to todays economic migration- I am a prime example of this with out move from the UK to China .

Over the years travel has become easier, more affordable and more convenient. It is easy to hop on a budget airline flight to fly across Europe for a couple of days. Whilst it takes a bit longer, it is also perfectly reasonable to travel to the other side of the world to visit friends and family for a few weeks.

Other factors that have influenced the growth of VFR includes increased urbanisation of areas, the building of more airports and transport infrastructure and globalisation .

Reasons for the growth in visiting friends and relatives (VFR)

There are several different reasons for the growth in the visiting friends and relatives market around the world. This includes globalisation, a growing expat population , migration, freedom of movement, education and the desire to travel.

I will further explain each of these below.

Globalisation is the notion that we are all becoming more alike, or more ‘global’. Globalisation is increasingly present in almost every aspect of the world that we live in. From English schools in Taiwan, to smart phones in Ethiopia to fajitas in Australia , the world is becoming more and more connected and more and more alike.

Globalisation is bringing people together- we can communicate more easily and understand each other better than before. But globalisation is also increasing distance between us. People who would never have considered a move to, say Japan, are not relocating across the globe for better financial benefits, knowing that they can still get many of their home comforts.

Many business are opening up offices, headquarters and factories around the world and workforces are distributed all over the globe. This means that there is more business travel than ever before.

The corporate world has, in many regards, become a multinational industry. This has meant that there has been an increase in people moving to live overseas around the world. In the UAE, for example, less than 12% of people who live there are Emirates, meaning that the expat population makes up more than 88%! Wow!

visiting friends and relatives tourism

Naturally, expats will want to travel to visit their friends and families from time to time, and their friends and families are likely to want to visit them too. This is a clear example of VFR.

People have chosen to migrate from place to place throughout the history of tourism .

Over the years migration patterns have changed. Sometimes people migrate for safety reasons, such as war and political instability. Other times people choose to migrate for economic reasons, usually because the country that they are travelling to offers a better financial situation. And some people choose to migrate for other reasons such as the culture , the weather or the social aspects of a destination.

Popular migration origins, whereby people have opted to migrate the UK throughout the past couple of decades include; India , Pakistan, Jamaica, Nigeria and Poland.

People who have migrated out of the UK in recent years have typically chosen to relocate to the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Singapore and Hong Kong.

People who migrate will often return to their country of origin to visit their friends and relatives. Likewise, their friends and relatives will often travel to visit them.

Having the freedom to travel to different places has inevitably impacted the VFR industry.

This is most evident in Europe, where the EU four freedoms has resulted in years of uninterrupted travel within the union. A decade or so ago there was a significant influx of people with passports from Eastern European countries moving to the UK. This was as a result of the economic opportunities available to in the UK compared to their home countries.

Education has also become increasingly globalised. Where I live, in Hangzhou, China , people pay a lot of money to send their children to international schools, where they are prepped to attend university in the UK or America. This is common practice in many parts of the world.

VFR amongst students and their families is a significant part of the visiting friends and relatives sector.

Lastly, the most dominant reason for an increase in VFR is the desire to travel.

People nowadays want to see more of the world than ever before. People want to experience new cultures and do things that may not be possible in their home areas (i.e. sunbathing on the beach or skiing on a mountain).

Increased desire to travel has resulted in more people moving overseas, embarking on expatriate lifestyles and travelling for VFR purposes.

Whilst there has been a clear upwards trend in visiting friends and relatives around the world for many years, this was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time irreversible societal changes occurred including a growth in the shut in economy and technological advancements in telecommunication.

It is likely that many areas will never be the same again. The elderly, who were once averse to using smart devices with significant technological capabilities, have now mastered the use of FaceTime. Group get togethers on Zoom are now commonplace. Microsoft Teams is now the most used classroom around the world.

It is likely that some of these areas will remain popular and may even continue to grow in the future. While there will always be a place for visiting grandma in Scotland and attending a work conference in Budapest, these will likely be less popular now that the world has adapted to using modern technologies that overcome the barriers of distance.

Here are some examples of situations whereby a person might travel for VFR purposes:

  • Visiting an aunty who moved to Canada ten years ago
  • Going to stay with an old school friend who lives in Portugal
  • Meeting your spouses family who live in Ghana
  • Travelling to Thailand to attend a family wedding
  • Going to visit your son at university in California
  • Travelling to Dubai to visit your best friend who moved there for work last year
  • Spending a month in Australia with your grandchildren who were born down under
  • Taking a short trip to Romania to visit your sick relative
  • Returning to your university town for a reunion event

Hopefully now you understand what is meant by the term VFR and you understand why it is such an important part of the tourism industry. As you can see, there are many different situations whereby a person may choose to travel for VFR, from attending a school reunion to visiting your grandma. If you found this interesting, why not follow me on social media? Links at the top of the page!

Liked this article? Click to share!

  • Search Menu
  • Sign in through your institution
  • Advance articles
  • Collections
  • Editor's Choice
  • Supplements
  • Author Guidelines
  • Submission Site
  • Open Access
  • About Journal of Travel Medicine
  • About the International Society of Travel Medicine
  • Editorial Board
  • Advertising and Corporate Services
  • Journals Career Network
  • Self-Archiving Policy
  • Journals on Oxford Academic
  • Books on Oxford Academic

International Society of Travel Medicine

Article Contents

Evolution of the term “vfr travel”, changing patterns of population mobility, redefining “vfr” travel, determinants of health and the vfr traveler, application of these concepts by travel medicine professionals, public health officials, and researchers, conclusions, acknowledgments, declaration of interests.

  • < Previous

The Visiting Friends or Relatives Traveler in the 21st Century: Time for a New Definition

  • Article contents
  • Figures & tables
  • Supplementary Data

Elizabeth D. Barnett, Douglas W. MacPherson, William M. Stauffer, Louis Loutan, Christoph F. Hatz, Alberto Matteelli, Ron H. Behrens, The Visiting Friends or Relatives Traveler in the 21st Century: Time for a New Definition, Journal of Travel Medicine , Volume 17, Issue 3, 1 May 2010, Pages 163–170, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1708-8305.2010.00411.x

  • Permissions Icon Permissions

Background. Travelers visiting friends or relatives (VFR travelers) are a group identified with an increased risk of travel‐related illness. Changes in global mobility, travel patterns, and inter‐regional travel led to reappraisal of the classic definition of the term VFR.

Methods. The peer‐reviewed literature was accessed through electronic searchable sites (PubMed/Medline, ProMED, GeoSentinel, TropNetEurop, Eurosurveillance) using standard search strategies for the literature related to visiting friends/relatives, determinants of health, and travel. We reviewed the historic and current use of the definition of VFR traveler in the context of changes in population dynamics and mobility.

Results. The term “VFR” is used in different ways in the literature making it difficult to assess and compare clinical and research findings. The classic definition of VFR is no longer adequate in light of an increasingly dynamic and mobile world population.

Conclusions. We propose broadening the definition of VFR travelers to include those whose primary purpose of travel is to visit friends or relatives and for whom there is a gradient of epidemiologic risk between home and destination, regardless of race, ethnicity, or administrative/legal status (eg, immigrant). The evolution and application of this proposed definition and an approach to risk assessment for VFR travelers are discussed.

A primary goal of pretravel consultation is assessment of risk of travel‐related illness or injury to provide individualized advice about reducing these risks. Purpose of travel has emerged as one key factor influencing health risk during travel. Over the past decade, a specific group of travelers, those intending to visit friends or relatives (VFR travelers), has been identified with increased risk of travel‐related morbidity.

Several publications have focused on VFR travelers, addressing risk assessment, health disparities, barriers to care, and general travel medicine considerations. 1 , – 4 Subsequent studies have assessed specific travel‐related illnesses in VFR travelers. Fenner et al. 5 found VFR travelers to be at increased risk of malaria, viral hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and sexually transmitted infections compared with tourists and business travelers to the same destination. 5 A review of travelers seen at GeoSentinel sites (a global surveillance network devoted to examining travel‐related health problems) 6 found a greater proportion of serious and potentially preventable travel‐related illness in travelers who were identified as “immigrants” and selected “visiting friends or relatives” as their main purpose of travel compared with “nonimmigrants” whose purpose of travel was to visit friends or relatives. The authors of this study commented on lack of a standard definition for VFR travelers. 7 Lack of a standard definition for VFR travel in the existing literature makes it difficult to compare data and to generalize advice about travel‐related health risks and recommendations from one group of VFR travelers to another.

The purpose of this article was to address the development and evolution of the concept of VFR travel by reviewing how the term “VFR traveler” has been used in the past, to discuss why existing definitions may no longer meet the needs of a changing population of travelers, and to propose a definition of VFR traveler that reflects the current state of population dynamics and global travel and incorporates modern concepts of risk assessment and management. How this framework can be used by clinicians in a pretravel encounter, by public health officials in developing policies and programs focused on reducing travel‐related health risks, and by researchers in developing a research agenda for VFR travel that would inform the clinical and public health practice of travel medicine will be discussed.

The peer‐reviewed literature was accessed through electronic searchable sites such as PubMed/Medline, ProMED, GeoSentinel, TropNetEurop, Eurosurveillance, using standard search strategies for the literature related to visiting friends/relatives, determinants of health, and travel. In addition, public access reports from international and national organizations and agencies were accessed for information on VFR migrants and health. Organizations and agencies included: The World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, USA), European Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Protection Agency (UK), and others. An expert panel, convened with the support of the International Society for Travel Medicine, reviewed all results and participated in the preparation of this report. As this report involved no contact with patients or individuals or personal medical information, research ethics approval was not sought.

Travel for the purpose of visiting friends or relatives (VFR travel) is a concept first defined by the travel and tourism industry and included travelers whose main purpose of travel was family‐related, and were therefore distinct from tourist, business, or long‐term travelers such as missionaries or other volunteers. The term was used in reference to both domestic and international travel for the purpose of gathering economic data about different types of travelers and did not have specific health connotations. 8 , 9 Travel industry research focused on the relationship between VFR travelers and potential economic impact and opportunities in tourism markets. 10 Travel medicine experts noted that they were observing a traveler who appeared to be at higher risk for morbidity and mortality and was distinct from more traditional travelers such as tourists, students, backpackers, or business travelers. The travel medicine field adopted the term VFR and applied it to this population of travelers. A number of assumptions were made when using the term VFR traveler in the health context. 11 The “classic” VFR traveler criteria typically included: ethnicity of the traveler different from the host country population but similar to the destination population, intended purpose of travel to visit friends or relatives, and the destination representing a higher prevalence risk of specific tropical infectious diseases (eg, malaria).

A typical VFR traveler could be described as follows: A 30‐year‐old Nigerian man who immigrated to the United States at age 20 traveling to Nigeria to visit his parents in the village where he had been born and raised. This scenario captures the characteristics felt to be central to the “classic” definition of a VFR: an immigrant returning to his country of origin for a visit with friends or relatives who is racially or ethnically distinct from the majority population in his adopted country, moving from a higher income country with low tropical disease prevalence to a lower income country with higher risk of these diseases, and who is also experiencing living conditions more similar to the local population than that of a typical tourist or business traveler. The shortfall in the use of the classic definition of VFR traveler in an increasingly mobile world is that the underlying assumptions of what constitutes a VFR traveler no longer apply to a large number of travelers who may have risks of travel‐related illness which are similar to those experienced by the classic VFR traveler. What may have been a useful framework in the past may no longer apply to 21st century patterns of global travel and population mobility. An early indication of the inadequacy of this definition was the introduction of qualifiers to the term VFR. “Immigrant VFR” was introduced to distinguish the foreign‐born traveler from the child or non‐foreign‐born spouse of this immigrant traveler (“traveler VFR”), though both might travel to the same destination with the purpose of visiting friends or relatives. 7 Other authors chose terms such as immigrant traveler, migrant traveler, ethnic traveler, and semi‐immune traveler. It became apparent that the increased number of terms and the different ways in which they were applied was leading to increasing difficulty in drawing conclusions or developing recommendations that could be applied to the population of “VFR travelers.” 12

Changing global travel and migration patterns have provided additional impetus for reappraisal of the term VFR traveler. International tourist arrivals have increased from 150 million in 1970 to 900 million in 2007 and are expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2020. 13 More than half (an increase of 400 million arrivals) of this increase occurred in the 13 years since 1994, when the term VFR was used first by the travel industry (compared with the increase of 350 million arrivals in the previous 24 years between 1970 and 1994). Although travel arrivals to Europe remain highest in magnitude, travel to East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa will experience the greatest rate of growth, with lower rates of growth being seen for arrivals to Europe and the Americas. Other changes in global mobility patterns include increased urbanization, leading to disparities in health risks between rural and urban areas of the same country or region, and increased intra‐regional migration, such as within Asia between countries with similar socioeconomic status but variation in other epidemiologic health risks. 14

Changes in global migration patterns and infectious disease epidemiology present challenges to the classic definition of VFR in the following ways: travel to some destinations may not be associated with the magnitude of increased risk of tropical diseases that has been present in the past (eg, decreased rates of malaria transmission in central urban areas of sub‐Saharan Africa 15 , 16 ); noninfectious risks of travel are being recognized and described in more detail (eg, trauma, road accidents, and air quality) 17–19 ; individuals with remote connections to their country/region of birth (second‐ or third‐generation immigrants) may be returning to explore their roots, staying with distant relatives; spouses, and children, not originally from the destination, may be accompanying a “classic” VFR traveler to his/her home; immigrants may travel for primary reasons other than visiting friends or relatives; and racial/ethnic distinction alone is not a sufficient factor on which to base increased health risk during travel (eg, leading to expressions of implicit bias and stereotyping by clinicians, researchers, and policy makers).

Several scenarios can be envisioned that highlight the challenges of VFR definition in the current era. These include:

A 23‐year‐old Canadian‐born white woman travels to India to be married to her Canadian‐born fiancé who is of Indian descent.

A 40‐year‐old man who works in the mines in South Africa returns to rural Botswana to spend the holidays with his family.

A 45‐year‐old businessman based in Singapore travels to Dubai to visit his family but will stay in a hotel as he will be conducting business while there.

An 18‐year‐old US‐born male of Vietnamese descent travels to Hanoi to visit distant relatives; he will get around the city on a motorbike.

An 8‐year‐old UK‐born Nigerian boy travels to Nigeria to go to boarding school in a town where he has no relatives or family friends.

In each of these scenarios, application of the “classic” VFR definition may not capture the complexity of travel‐related health risks for the individual traveler. A revised framework and definition of VFR travel that can embrace changes in global migration patterns, the increased variation in purpose of travel, and assessment of changing and variable epidemiologic travel health risks, is required. We therefore propose a revised definition of VFR travel with two components:

the intended purpose of travel is to visit friends or relatives; and

there is an epidemiologic gradient of health risk between the two locations supported by an assessment of health determinants.

The intent to visit friends or relatives at the travel destination is fundamental to the new framework. Connection with the local population is related to multiple aspects of the travel experience such as duration of travel, type of accommodation, mode of travel at the destination, exposure to food and water, intimate exposures, and access to social support systems including health care. These factors affect health of travelers to different magnitudes, and are listed in Table 1 . Focusing on the primary goal of travel (visiting friends or relatives) rather than on characteristics of the traveler (ethnicity or immigration status) provides a more useful foundation for travel consultation based on assessment of individual travel‐related health risks.

Factors that may influence the health of travelers (by strength of evidence)

Strong evidence = observational studies or stronger research design that includes comparative group of nontravelers or population data of comparative outcomes; weaker evidence = observational studies without comparative analysis.

The second part of the definition is the requirement for an epidemiological health risk gradient between home and destination. Classically, this has referred to increased risk for vector‐borne diseases (malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, and chikungunya) or vaccine preventable diseases (hepatitis A, typhoid). The new framework encourages a broader view of health risks to include noninfectious risks such as accidents or injury, 20 air pollution, varying accommodations, extremes of climate, and high altitude. As travel patterns change, and there is more travel within regions and from known higher risk areas to lower risk ones, concepts must be broadened to include specific ways in which the risk gradient affects the traveler. For example, travelers from the Western parts of the United States to the Eastern United States may benefit from information about prevention of Lyme disease, travelers between the UK or Australia to the Americas and Europe might reduce their risk of road traffic accidents with some orientation to opposite side of the road driving, and residents of relatively crime free areas may benefit from counseling to avoid petty or violent crime when visiting large urban areas with increased crime. Conversely, the risk gradient may include travel from high‐ to low‐risk destinations for some health outcomes. For example, previous exposure to and therefore development of immunity to hepatitis A may decrease the risk of this disease to the VFR traveler. The link between the purpose of travel and risk gradients may work well in differentiating between travel‐related health risks of VFR travelers and those who travel for business, tourism, education, or employment, but it remains to be seen how well it will identify differences in outcomes for other purposes of travel, such as backpacking or humanitarian workers, and to what extent this is overlapping.

This proposed definition of a VFR traveler omits several of the characteristics that have been included in the previous definition. Specifically, it is not necessary to be an “immigrant” in the departure country to be a VFR traveler. The term “immigrant” has legal connotations as do other terms such as “refugee,”“alien,”“migrant,” and these administrative terms are used variably from country to country and even regionally within countries. An administrative or legal classification, when taken out of context, may have limited application to health determinants and risk of travel‐related health risks. Using administrative or legal class to predict health risk can lead to stereotyping and implicit assumptions about the patient/subjects/populations by the health care provider, researcher, or policy maker. These inaccurate assumptions about patients/subjects/populations may lead to provision of inappropriate clinical care and advice, introduce bias into study designs, and/or lead to inaccurately aimed public health interventions.

Children or spouses of foreign‐born individuals may face specific enhanced travel‐related health risks when they visit friends or relatives in a parent's or spouse's country of birth, and those who travel to visit friends or relatives may experience different health risks during travel than those risks which other types of travelers would experience in the same destination. The requirement to be an “immigrant,” or immigrant's child, has therefore been omitted from this framework. In addition, there is no ethnicity component; the traveler does not need to be ethnically distinct from the majority population of the departure country to be considered a VFR traveler. The movement away from this requirement refocuses the emphasis on assessment of travel‐related health risk rather than on characteristics of the traveler that may not be relevant to the specific risks he or she may face.

Removal of race or ethnicity from the definition of VFR is intended to bring scientific rigor to travel risk assessment. Race and ethnicity, when and where relevant to travel risk assessment, are more directly captured within the proposed VFR definition based on the intent of travel and the determinants of health. Both race and ethnicity are inter‐dependent variables within the broader concepts of socioeconomics, genetics and biology, behavior, and environmental assessment. Equally, immigrant status is an administrative classification that changes over time and varies by place and is not a direct or stable factor in assessing risk. There is a tendency in the literature for clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to assume “we all know who we are talking about” when using the term “immigrant.” This leads to poor scientific assumptions and conclusions that, in the end, limit generalization or comparison of populations (eg, is the “immigrant” population seen by my clinic the same as the one described in this article?). The change in the VFR definition is to address the limitations posed by confining the term VFR traveler only to travelers who are immigrants or who are ethnically distinct from the local population. We hope the new, more general definition, will encourage clinicians, researchers, and policy makers to define the population they are addressing in their methods, increasing the understanding of risk in specific populations and refining the literature. Furthermore, we hope the more general definition will encourage focusing on the determinants of health of individuals and populations and will decrease stereotyping and implicit bias currently evident in clinical practice and the literature.

Independent of the reason for travel, the epidemiological risk is another important determinant of health that contributes to travel‐related morbidity. These risks should be taken into account during every travel consultation and are not unique to VFR travelers ( Table 2 ). The determinants of health that are also relevant to the travel health assessment include: socioeconomic factors (of the individual as well as the destination country); genetics/biology (variable susceptibility to disease such as preexisting malaria immunity; presence of glucose‐6‐phosphatase deficiency [G6PD]); behavioral characteristics of the traveler and the destination population (perception of control over one's destiny, risk‐accepting/taking behaviors, health beliefs); and environmental factors (public safety and security, housing, exposure to extremes of climate). Some of these factors have been validated as clearly associated with increased risk, whereas others are less well defined, and may carry various weights for different travelers.

Health determinants affecting risk of morbidity in travelers

Assessment of epidemiologic risk gradients and integration of the determinants of health into the pretravel consultation involve obtaining detailed information from the traveler and as such are integral to the work of the travel medicine provider. The new definition for VFR traveler represents an accommodation to increasing diversity in the types of travelers and to changing patterns of global travel. In fact, this approach represents a shift to a more clinically relevant paradigm where risk assessment for travel‐related morbidity is accomplished for all travelers based solely on assessment of epidemiologic risk and evaluation of these risks based on the determinants of health described, rather than by using types of traveler as proxies for differing types of risk to be experienced. One might argue that the definition is so broad as to eliminate the ability to distinguish subgroups that are at significantly increased risk and therefore warrant specific interventions. The elimination of the requirement to be an immigrant or to be ethnically distinct from the local population may blur the distinction between groups of VFR travelers, such as identified by the GeoSentinel network in defining “immigrant” and “traveler” VFRs. At this time, the identification of the purpose of travel continues to provide useful information for the travel medicine professional. Individual clinicians, researchers, and policy makers may still be addressing subpopulations but rather than assuming all “immigrants” or ethnically based populations are the same, we hope the broader definition will encourage more precise language in defining these subpopulations, creating more equitable, comparable, and scientifically sound data and recommendations. The following sections outline ways in which the new definition for VFR travel can be used today by clinicians, public health officials, and researchers.

This approach to travel risk assessment will place greater onus on the practitioner, public health official, and researcher. Standardizing an approach to clinical risk assessment based on incomplete or inexact knowledge of risk will highlight areas of uncertainty that are inherent in travel. Critical decision‐making in the face of uncertainty will also mean greater engagement of the traveler in deciding how to manage his or her own risks (and may decrease expression of implicit bias by providers). Similarly, public health officials will be pressed to apply more rigorous science in policy deliberations and program design related to travel health risk management. The highest expectations in applying a stable and robust VFR definition may be on the travel health researcher in creating quality study design and evaluations that can be generalized and applied in the real world setting of clinical and public health practice. But having recognized these challenges for practitioners, public health, and researchers, the greatest challenge in the new definition may well be the empowerment for the VFR traveler and their acceptance of a role in managing the uncertainty related to future events occurring during travel.

Pretravel assessment of VFR travelers can be enhanced by addressing specific topics within the domains of the determinants of health listed in Table 2 . Clinicians can use this approach to identify specific gradients of risk for VFR travelers in multiple areas in addition to infectious diseases. A more nuanced approach is also possible for travelers who may appear very different but in fact have quite similar risk profiles, or who appear similar but in fact may have quite different risks.

Risk assessment within these additional domains also encourages increased attention to factors and outcomes other than infectious diseases, such as road traffic accidents, air pollution, personal safety, psychological and psychosocial issues, and exposures to extremes of climate or severe weather events. This framework for risk assessment can also be applied to urban‐rural migration within a country (such as moving from an urban area of Brazil into a yellow fever endemic area, or moving, in many countries, from a relatively safe rural area into a large urban area with risks of urban violence, poorer sanitation, and air pollution). As inter‐regional travel increases and classic travel risks move away from infectious disease risks to a broader concept of travel‐related health problems, 21 it will be necessary to explore in more depth the risk gradient for VFR travelers in these different domains.

Application of this framework for VFR travelers will be new to many clinicians, though most travel medicine practitioners are already familiar with the process of risk assessment that is used in the routine practice of travel medicine. To facilitate use of the new definition specific to VFR travelers, case scenarios have been developed that illustrate application of the definition. 22 These cases will assist clinicians in understanding the difficulties incurred when using legal status or ethnicity to determine risk. Over time, this framework should facilitate design of studies involving VFR travelers.

Public Health Officials

Global security and migration‐related illness are topics of increasing international importance. 23 , 24 Acknowledging the increased role of VFR travel and potential for transmission of infectious diseases has been seen with respect to influenza, HIV infection, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, dengue, chikungunya, malaria, and other infectious diseases. 25 , 26 Noninfectious causes of morbidity may include exposure to counterfeit or adulterated medications, 27 , 28 contaminated or poisonous foods (melamine‐contaminated dairy products), accidents, physical or sexual violence, and exposure to air pollution or high altitude. Examples of public health initiatives to address potentially travel‐related noninfectious disease issues include “Look Right” signs in the UK and education and efforts to improve air quality around the time of the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Other public health interventions at local levels that attempt to address VFR travel risks include thermo‐screening upon departure at airports, 29 , 30 and health screening of returned domestic servants in Singapore. 31

Researchers

It is particularly important to define terms and frames of reference that will allow formulation of research questions and robust study design. The revised definition can be used consistently with the study designer determining whether they wish to use even more specific inclusion and exclusion criteria that ultimately will determine the comparability and generalizability of the study populations. This will also allow testing of previous assumptions about VFR travelers and exploring relative importance of specific aspects of risk (length of time out of country, local versus hotel accommodation/food, health beliefs, risk of blood or body fluid exposure, access to care). This will be invaluable in providing quality data to guide the clinical encounter and to inform public health policy and program design and implementation that ensures that an evidence‐based approach to clinical and public services is available to practitioners and travelers.

A strong recommendation is made for the adoption, implementation, and evaluation of the proposed definition by the travel medicine community, including clinicians, researchers, and public health officials. The requirements for surveillance and research that addresses the risk of travel‐related illness in different groups of travelers, such the studies done by the GeoSentinel Network and TropNetEurop, will be aided by a more standard definition of VFR traveler. Within the framework of the definition, addressing the health risks in subgroups of VFR travelers, such as children of immigrants who are visiting their parents' country for the first time, business travelers who are also visiting friends or relatives, and individuals spending time staying with local families can then be examined.

Changes in global migration patterns and population demographics have prompted reappraisal of the concept of the VFR traveler. Some components of the classic definition no longer serve the purpose of defining a distinct group of travelers with enhanced risks of adverse health outcomes directly related to their travel. An approach to VFR travel focusing on intent of travel being to visit friends or relatives, and a gradient of epidemiological health risks between the home and travel destination is proposed. Evaluation of health risk based on individual and population determinants of health characteristic provides both a current and dynamic view of risk management.

Clinicians are encouraged to identify those who travel for the expressed intent of visiting friends or relatives as being a group for which a defined framework for risk assessment can be applied. This requires an evaluation of the health determinants as an indicator of risk related to travel. Public health officials will find this construct helpful in informing policies and designing and implementing programs to reduce travel‐related health problems on a population basis. Researchers in travel health will benefit from use of a standardized population‐based framework for research design and implementation. Using defined and comparable population‐based health determinants, researchers can study specific disease risks and outcomes relevant to the health of VFR travelers.

There is certainly a requirement to validate this framework. An integrated approach between clinicians, public health officials, and researchers to test these hypotheses and provide data‐driven recommendations for prevention of travel‐related illness in well‐defined groups of VFR travelers will be instrumental in advancing the field of travel medicine.

The authors acknowledge with great appreciation Ms Brenda Bagwell (Administrative Director, ISTM) and the International Society of Travel Medicine who provided generous logistical, financial, and organizational support for working group meetings resulting in this article. Brian Gushulak and Rogelio Lopez‐Velez provided valuable input.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of any government, agency, university, society, or other body to which they may be currently or in the past affiliated.

R. H. B. received support from the UCLH/UCL Department of Health's NIHR Biomedical Research Centers funding scheme. The other authors state they have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Bacaner N Stauffer B Boulware DR , et al. Travel medicine considerations for North American immigrants visiting friends and relatives . JAMA 2004 ; 291 : 2856 – 2864 .

Google Scholar

Angell SY Behrens RH. Risk assessment and disease prevention in travelers visiting friends and relatives . Infect Dis Clin North Am 2005 ; 19 : 49 – 65 .

Angell SY Cetron MS. Health disparities among travelers visiting friends and relatives abroad . Ann Int Med 2005 ; 142 : 67 – 73 .

Stauffer WM Behrens RH. Providing travel medicine advice to visiting friends and relatives travelers: high risk and difficult to advise . Clin Fam Pract 2005 ; 7 : 717 – 728 .

Fenner L Weber R Steffen R Schlagenhauf P. Imported infectious disease and purpose of travel, Switzerland . Emerg Infect Dis J 2007 ; 13 : 217 – 222 .

GeoSentinel. The global surveillance network of the ISTM and CDC. Available at: http://www.istm.org/geosentinel/main.html . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

Leder K Tong S Weld L , et al. Illness in travelers visiting friends and relatives: a review of the GeoSentinel surveillance network . Clin Infect Dis 2006 ; 43 : 1185 – 1193 .

Statistics Canada. The Daily. Travel between Canada and other countries. December 17, 2008 . Available at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/081217/dq081217c-eng.htm . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

United Nations Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis Statistical Division and World Tourism Organization. Statistical Paper Series M No. 83. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.M/83 Recommendations on Tourism Statistics. Available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/newsletter/unsd_workshops/tourism/st_esa_stat_ser_M_83.pdf . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

Moscardo G Pearce P Morrison A , et al. Developing a typology for understanding visiting friends and relatives markets . J Travel Res 2000 ; 38 : 251 – 259 .

Gushulak BD MacPherson DW. The migrant as a traveler—visiting friends and relatives. Travel Medicine NewsShare—March/April 2002. Available at: https://www.istm.org/Documents/Members/MemberResources/Publications/newsshare/march2002.pdf .

Behrens RH Hatz CH Gushulak BD MacPherson DW. Illness in travelers visiting friends and relatives: what can be concluded? Clin Infect Dis 2007 ; 44 : 761 – 763 .

World Tourism Organization (WTO). Tourism highlights. 2008 . Available at: http://unwto.org/facts/eng/pdf/highlights/UNWTO_Highlights08_en_HR.pdf . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

Gushulak BD Weekers J MacPherson DW. Migrants in a globalized world—health threats, risks and challenges: an evidence based framework. Emerg Health Threats J 2009 ; 2 : e10 . doi: 10.3134/ehtj.09.010. Available at: http://www.eht-forum.org/ehtj/journal/v2/pdf/ehtj09010a.pdf . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

Robert V Macintyre K Keating J , et al. Malaria transmission in urban sub‐Saharan Africa . Am J Trop Med Hyg 2003 ; 68 : 169 – 176 .

Byrne N. Urban malaria risk in sub Saharan Africa: where is the evidence? Travel Med Infect Dis 2007 ; 5 : 135 – 137 .

MacPherson DW Gushulak BD Sandhu J. Death and international travel—the Canadian experience: 1996–2004 . J Travel Med 2007 ; 14 : 77 – 84 .

MacPherson DW Gushulak BD Sandhu J. Arrest and detention in international travellers—the Canadian experience: 1996–2004 . Travel Med Infect Dis 2007 ; 5 : 217 – 222 . Epub 2007 Mar 2687

Guse CE Cortés LM Hargarten SW Hennes HM. Fatal injuries of US citizens abroad . J Travel Med 2007 ; 14 : 279 – 287 . PMID: 17883458.

Tonellato DJ Guse CE Hargarten SW. Injury deaths of US citizens abroad: new data source, old travel problem . J Travel Med 2009 ; 16 : 304 – 310 .

Gushulak BD MacPherson DW. Population mobility and infectious diseases: the diminishing impact of classic infectious diseases and new approaches for the 21st century . Clin Infect Dis 2000 ; 31 : 776 – 780 .

Behrens RH Stauffer WM Barnett ED , et al. Travel case‐scenarios as a demonstration of risk assessment of Visiting Friends or Relatives (VFR) travelers—introduction to criteria and evidence‐based definition and framework . J Travel Med 2010 ; 17 : 153 – 162 .

Chen LH Wilson ME. The role of the traveler in emerging infections and magnitude of travel . Med Clin North Am 2008 ; 92 : 1409 – 1432 .

Barnett ED Walker PF. Role of immigrants and migrants in emerging infectious diseases . Med Clin North Am 2008 ; 92 : 1447 – 1458 .

Wilder‐Smith A Gubler DJ. Geographic expansion of dengue: the impact of international travel . Med Clin North Am 2008 ; 92 : 1377 – 1390 .

Simon F Savini H Parola P. Chikungunya: a paradigm of emergence and globalization of vector‐borne diseases . Med Clin North Am 2008 ; 92 : 1323 – 1344 .

Primo‐Carpenter J McGinnis M. Matrix of drug quality reports in USAID‐assisted countries. US Pharmacopeia and Drug Quality and Information Program, 2010. Available at: http://www.usp.org/pdf/EN/dqi/ghcDrugQualityMatrix.pdf . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Counterfeit medicine. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/counterfeit/ . (Accessed 2010 March 22).

St. John RK King A De Jong D , et al. Border screening for SARS . Emerg Infect Dis 2005 ; 11 : 6 – 10 .

Samaan G Patel M Spencer J Roberts L. Border screening for SARS in Australia: what has been learnt? Med J Aust 2004 ; 180 : 220 – 223 .

Huang S Yeoh BS. Ties that bind: state policy and migrant female domestic helpers in Singapore . Geoforum 1996 ; 27 : 479 – 493 .

Suh KN. Travelers with special needs: elderly. In: Keystone JS Kozarsky Pe Freedman D , et al ., eds. Travel medicine. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Science , 2008 : 243 – 248 .

McCarthy AE. Travelers with special needs: travelers with pre‐existing disease. In: Keystone JS Kozarsky PE Freedman D , et al ., eds. Travel medicine. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Science , 2008 : 249 – 255 .

Hicks LA Mileno MD. Travelers with special needs: preparation of immunocompromised travelers. In: Keystone JS Kozarsky PE Freedman D , et al ., eds. Travel medicine. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Science , 2008 : 257 – 264 .

Castelli F Pizzocolo C Pini A. Travelers with special needs: the traveler with HIV. In: Keystone JS Kozarsky PE Freedman D , et al ., eds. Travel medicine. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Science , 2008 : 265 – 276 .

Steffen R. Epidemiology: morbidity and mortality in travelers. In: Keystone JS , Kozarsky PE Freedman D , et al ., eds. Travel medicine. 2nd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Science , 2008 : 5 – 11 .

Chen LH Wilson ME Davis X , et al. Illness in long‐term travelers visiting GeoSentinel clinics. Emerg Infect Dis 2009 ; 15 : 1773 – 1782 . Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/15/11/1773.htm . (Accessed 2010 March 22)

  • risk assessment

Email alerts

More on this topic, related articles in pubmed, citing articles via.

  • Recommend to your Library

Affiliations

  • Online ISSN 1708-8305
  • Copyright © 2024 International Society of Travel Medicine
  • About Oxford Academic
  • Publish journals with us
  • University press partners
  • What we publish
  • New features  
  • Open access
  • Institutional account management
  • Rights and permissions
  • Get help with access
  • Accessibility
  • Advertising
  • Media enquiries
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Languages
  • University of Oxford

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide

  • Copyright © 2024 Oxford University Press
  • Cookie settings
  • Cookie policy
  • Privacy policy
  • Legal notice

This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.

What is visiting friends and relatives in tourism?

What is visiting friends and relatives in tourism.

Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is a significant segment of the tourism industry that involves individuals traveling to visit their friends or relatives who reside in a different location. This form of tourism is fueled by personal and social connections, whereby people undertake journeys to reconnect with loved ones, celebrate special occasions, or simply strengthen their bond.

When it comes to VFR tourism, the experience is often immersive and unique. Unlike traditional tourism, where the focus is primarily on exploring new destinations and unfamiliar cultures, VFR travelers have the opportunity to partake in the everyday lives of their friends or relatives. This enables them to gain a deeper understanding of the local customs, traditions, and way of life.

VFR tourism typically involves staying with the host family, which can enhance the authenticity of the experience. This allows travelers to have a firsthand experience of the destination through the eyes of their loved ones. Whether it’s attending family gatherings, participating in local festivals, or simply sharing meals together, VFR tourists get an insider’s perspective, creating lasting memories and strengthening bonds in the process.

FAQs about Visiting Friends and Relatives in Tourism

1. why is vfr tourism important.

VFR tourism is important as it fosters personal connections and allows individuals to maintain and strengthen familial and cultural ties. It also contributes to the local economy by generating additional revenue through accommodation, dining, and various tourism-related activities.

2. How do people plan their VFR trips?

Planning a VFR trip often involves coordination with the host family, determining the duration of the stay, and discussing any specific preferences or activities to be undertaken during the visit. It is advisable to communicate and plan in advance to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience.

3. Can VFR tourism be a sustainable form of travel?

Absolutely! VFR tourism promotes sustainable travel practices by utilizing existing infrastructure and resources within the host community. Travelers often adopt local customs and contribute to the livelihood of their relatives or friends, thereby reducing the strain on popular tourist destinations.

4. What are the benefits of VFR tourism?

VFR tourism offers numerous benefits, including cultural immersion, cost savings on accommodation, and the opportunity to create lasting memories with loved ones. It also allows visitors to explore the authentic side of a destination and gain a deeper appreciation for the local way of life.

5. Are there any challenges associated with VFR tourism?

While VFR tourism can be immensely rewarding, there can be challenges such as language barriers, differences in lifestyle, and potential conflicts between the host and the guest. Effective communication, mutual respect, and understanding are key to overcoming these challenges.

6. Can VFR tourism promote inclusive travel?

Yes, VFR tourism can promote inclusive travel as it focuses on personal connections rather than traditional tourist attractions. It provides an opportunity for people of different cultures and backgrounds to come together, learn from each other, and foster greater understanding and acceptance.

7. How can VFR tourists support local communities?

VFR tourists can support local communities by making conscious choices. This can include purchasing from local businesses, respecting local customs and traditions, and engaging in activities that contribute positively to the host community’s well-being and sustainability.

8. Are there any ethical considerations when participating in VFR tourism?

When participating in VFR tourism, it is important to respect the privacy and boundaries of the host family. It is also crucial to be mindful of the cultural sensitivities and norms of the destination to ensure a positive and respectful experience for both parties.

9. Is VFR tourism only limited to visiting family?

No, VFR tourism is not limited to visiting family. It can also include visits to close friends or even distant relatives. The key aspect is the personal connection and the desire to spend time with loved ones, regardless of the specific relationship.

10. How can VFR tourism contribute to cultural exchange?

VFR tourism facilitates cultural exchange by allowing travelers to immerse themselves in the daily lives of the local community. This firsthand experience enables them to understand and appreciate different customs, traditions, and ways of life, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

11. Are there any safety considerations in VFR tourism?

As with any form of travel, safety should be a priority. It is essential to stay informed about the local laws, customs, and potential risks of the destination. Maintaining open communication with the host family and heeding their advice can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

12. Can VFR tourism be combined with other forms of travel?

Absolutely! VFR tourism can be combined with other forms of travel. For example, a visitor may choose to explore nearby attractions or engage in activities that are popular in the region, in addition to spending time with their friends or relatives. This allows for a well-rounded travel experience.

About The Author

' src=

Sakina Moller

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Academia.edu no longer supports Internet Explorer.

To browse Academia.edu and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to  upgrade your browser .

Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center

paper cover thumbnail

Visiting Family and Friends Tourism

Profile image of Gregory Higginbotham

2017, The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Travel and Tourism

Visiting family and friends (VFF) tourism, also called visiting friends and relatives tourism, is the practice of traveling to familiar or unfamiliar places for the purpose of meeting people who are personally esteemed or valued. VFF is considered to be among the oldest manifestations of travel. VFF tourism involves notions of movement, dispersion, and distancing. By implication, therefore, such travels are undertaken with the explicit intent of maintaining and/or strengthening far-flung relationships. Even in a world where communications and technologies permeate almost all settings of contemporary life, journeys to places where family, friends, and relatives have relocated can serve to reforge these important social connections. Past tourism literature has long undervalued the social and economic contributions of VFF tourism. As a result, investigations of such contributions have been largely neglected. More recently, however, this concept has gained some academic interest as well as industry importance. The emerging discourse on VFF tourism, although formative in the way marketers promote their destinations, justifies the need for extensive and in-depth engagement.

Related Papers

Tourism Management

Anat Tchetchik

A comprehensive analysis of participation in visiting friends' tourism is proposed. The analysis includes traditional and novice predictors using advanced econometrics. The claim that visiting friends and visiting relatives are distinct is reinforced. The interplay between using communication and travel to meet is demonstrated. Each communication medium has a different role in the decision to visit friends abroad. a b s t r a c t This study has two objectives: to examine the interplay between communication technologies, social ties, attractiveness of destination and distance, focusing on the visiting friends tourism; and to further distinguish the visiting friends sub-segment from the visiting relatives' one. We pursue a quantitative approach by analyzing survey data among 300 respondents who maintain connections with friends overseas, while accounting for endogeneity and simultaneity concerns. We find further justification of the need to study visiting relatives and visiting friends separately. We demonstrate that the use of different communication channels is not monolithic; some media are negatively correlated with travel to meet in person, while other media and meetings in person are mutually reinforcing. Yet, the ongoing advances in communication technologies, on the one hand, and in transportation, on the other, entails that the interplay between communication technologies and face-to-face meeting will evolve, hence, it should continue to be explored in future research.

visiting friends and relatives tourism

Brian E M King

VFR travelers have personal connections with their homeland, which influence how they gaze upon its people, cultures and landscapes. This study examines the perceptions of children of immigrants towards visiting their ethnic homeland. The tourist gaze provides a theoretical framework to analyze their experiences when navigating dichotomies between home-and-away and between the self-and-others during their travels. Findings revealed that rather than gazing at the exotic “other,” they are seeking out similarities which allow for a greater connectedness with family and heritage. They also explained problems and issues that they encountered, as a consequence of feeling obliged to defend their homeland.

Anna Wojtynska

Tom Griffin

Despite a significant number of tourism decisions being influenced by personal relationships, visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism has received relatively little attention, with the experiences of hosts considered even less. Immigration is a significant factor in VFR; as destinations benefit from increased touristic activity immigrants increase their own familiarisation with their new communities as their guide their guests. This paper initially offers a discussion on the limitations of traditional conceptualisations of VFR in understanding the volume of personal relationships between visitors and residents and applies alternative definitions of VFR to existing data on international leisure visitors to Toronto, Ontario. Qualitative interviews are used to contextualise the hosting experience for immigrants, providing an understanding into what hosting means for individuals, with implications for community development and destination marketing presented.

Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events

Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism accounts for a substantial amount of worldwide travel, yet has received comparatively little attention regarding its impacts on sustainability. This paper provides an initial discussion that situates VFR tourism within a discussion on sustainable tourism development. The community capitals framework is used as a basis for the discussion. A review of academic literature on VFR and sustainable tourism provides the foundations for this paper. Due to the personal relationships inherent in VFR there are significant consequences regarding the social impacts of VFR tourism. Additionally, the economic implications of VFR tourism include a more stable demand, greater dispersal of spending, and engagement of residents as consumers. The ability of communities to absorb VFR tourism relative to other forms of tourism has positive indications for the cultural and environmental aspects of community development. As debates within the more recent literature consider the opportunities and possibilities for mass tourism to become more sustainable, this paper suggests that VFR could reasonably be considered a sustainable form of tourism and offers destinations a viable strategy for sustainable tourism development.

C. Michael Hall

Williams, A.M. & Hall, C.M. 2002, Tourism, migration, circulation and mobility: the contingencies of time and place, pp.1-52 in Tourism and Migration: New Relationships Between Production and Consumption, eds C.M. Hall & A.M. Williams, Kluwer, Dordrecht. This is a final draft of the chapter. For the authoritative version please consult the book.

Lauren B Wagner

Larry Dwyer

Journal of Hospitality Marketing & Management

The desire to visit friends and relatives (VFR) is a substantial influencer over a large proportion of all tourism trips worldwide. Despite this generally accepted notion it is a relatively recent subject in tourism literature receiving comparatively little attention from tourism academics. This paper offers a content analysis of journal articles retrieved using Google Scholar on VFR tourism covering a 21 year period. Papers were categorised by theoretical approach, author origin, geographical focus and specific topics of interest. Key findings show that VFR is receiving an increasing amount of attention, from a growing variety of scholars applying more varied approaches. Earlier papers generally focussed on volumetric, economic and marketing issues, with a more recent growth of interest in the social and community aspects of VFR tourism. Considerations for future research are discussed and comparisons with other subject matters presented.

RELATED PAPERS

Alina Zajadacz

cornetis.pl

Adam R . Szromek

Progress in Develoment Studies

Regina Scheyvens

Robin Nunkoo, Ph.D , Tom Griffin

Current Issues in Tourism

Bob Capistrano

eoin meehan

Population, Space and Place

Allan Williams

Cultural tourism in a …

Satu Miettinen

Tourism Geographies

Kristýna Ulmanová Kosinová

MK Smith et al

stroma cole

Arza Churchman , Noga Collins-Kreiner , Sharon Ben-dahlia

Dr Hania Janta

Karin Peters

African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure

Charity Mapingure

Annals of Tourism Research

Janta, H., Cohen, S.A. & Williams, A.M. (2015). Rethinking visiting friends and relatives mobilities. Population, Space and Place, DOI: 10.1002/psp.1914.

Dr Hania Janta , Scott Cohen

Ilie Rotariu , greg richards

Agata Bachórz , Anna Horolets

in: Magdalena Ślusarczyk, Paula Pustułka and Justyna Struzik (eds) Contemporary Migrant Families: Actors and Issues. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishers

Anna Horolets

Clive Smallman

Carylanna Taylor

Tourism Social Science Series

Lauren B Wagner , Claudio Minca

Meghann Ormond

Montse Crespi Vallbona , Melinda Jászberényi

Journal of Travel Research

Alastair M. Morrison

Norma Nickerson

Journal of Travel …

Fatuma Rashid

Ilie Rotariu

Heike A Schänzel

In Michael Clancey (ed) 2017 Slow Tourism, Food and Cities, London: Routledge.

Chris Wilbert

Dorota Rancew-Sikora , Unnur Dís Skaptadóttir , Anna Karlsdóttir , Kristín Loftsdóttir , Agata Bachórz , Karolina Ciechorska-Kulesza , Harald J Schaller , Anna Wojtynska

Scott Cohen

Sevil Sonmez

RELATED TOPICS

  •   We're Hiring!
  •   Help Center
  • Find new research papers in:
  • Health Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Academia ©2024

Visiting friend and relative

  • Reference work entry
  • First Online: 01 January 2016
  • Cite this reference work entry

visiting friends and relatives tourism

  • Natan Uriely 3  

39 Accesses

The visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism is defined as “a form of travel that is about being co-present with significant ‘faces’, being their guests, receiving their hospitality and perhaps enjoying their knowledge of local culture” (Larsen et al. 2007 :247). VFR tourists were largely ignored in research until the mid-1990s, mainly due to the common perception that they made little contribution to the commercial tourism and hospitality industry. Nevertheless, the economic importance of this segment has been clearly demonstrated in the past two decades by numerous studies that focus on consumer motivations, activities, and expenditures (Shani 2013 ). These contributions suggest that VFR is a legitimate segment with significant relevance to destinations as well as to the hospitality sector.

The growth and proliferation of VFR tourism has also received the attention of geographers and sociologists who are tuned to the decreasing distinctiveness of contemporary tourism from other...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions

King, B. 1994 What is Ethnic Tourism? An Australian Perspective. Tourism Management 15:173-176.

Article   Google Scholar  

Larsen, J., J. Urry, and K. Axhausen 2007 Networks and Tourism: Mobile Social Life. Annals of Tourism Research 34:244-262.

Shani, A. 2013 The VFR Experience: “Home” away from Home? Current Issues in Tourism 16:1-15.

Uriely, N. 2010 “Home” and “away” in VFR Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research 37:857-860.

Download references

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Department of Hotel and Tourism Management, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel

Natan Uriely

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Natan Uriely .

Editor information

Editors and affiliations.

University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menomonie, USA

Jafar Jafari

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China

Honggen Xiao

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

About this entry

Cite this entry.

Uriely, N. (2016). Visiting friend and relative. In: Jafari, J., Xiao, H. (eds) Encyclopedia of Tourism. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01384-8_398

Download citation

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-01384-8_398

Published : 25 June 2016

Publisher Name : Springer, Cham

Print ISBN : 978-3-319-01383-1

Online ISBN : 978-3-319-01384-8

eBook Packages : Business and Management Reference Module Humanities and Social Sciences Reference Module Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Share this entry

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Publish with us

Policies and ethics

  • Find a journal
  • Track your research

Security Alert May 17, 2024

Worldwide caution, update may 10, 2024, information for u.s. citizens in the middle east.

  • Travel Advisories |
  • Contact Us |
  • MyTravelGov |

Find U.S. Embassies & Consulates

Travel.state.gov, congressional liaison, special issuance agency, u.s. passports, international travel, intercountry adoption, international parental child abduction, records and authentications, popular links, travel advisories, mytravelgov, stay connected, legal resources, legal information, info for u.s. law enforcement, replace or certify documents, tourism & visit.

Study & Exchange

Other Visa Categories

U.S. Visa: Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country

Share this page:

Visitor Visa

Visa Waiver Program

Travel Without a Visa

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda

Tourism & Visit

Visa Banner - Tidal Basin

A foreign national traveling to the United States for tourism needs a visitor visa (B-2 or combined B1/B2) unless qualifying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program.

Travel for pleasure or tourism may include a short visit for vacation, visiting family and friends, or for medical treatment.

Visitor Visa for Tourism  (B-2 or B1/B2 visa)

For vacation, seeing family and friends, or medical treatment.

  • How to Apply
  • Required Documentation

Visa Waiver Program  VWP

Most citizens of participating countries (see NOTE below)* may travel to the United States for short visits without a visa though the  Visa Waiver Program .

Travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program Requires ESTA Approval

Canadian & Bermudian Citizens

Citizens of Canada and Bermuda generally do not need nonimmigrant visas for tourism.

Traveling to the United States for another reason?

SEE ALL VISA CATEGORIES

* With respect to a "country" or "countries" participating in VWP, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the one-China policy of the United States, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.

More Information

A-Z Index Legal Rights & Protections Lost/Stolen Travel Documents Denials Ineligibilities & Waivers Citizens of Canada & Bermuda Find a U.S. Embassy or Consulate Straight Facts on U.S. Visas Customer Service Statement U.S. Tax Information

In the United States

Visit The USA U.S. Tax Information

External Link

You are about to leave travel.state.gov for an external website that is not maintained by the U.S. Department of State.

Links to external websites are provided as a convenience and should not be construed as an endorsement by the U.S. Department of State of the views or products contained therein. If you wish to remain on travel.state.gov, click the "cancel" message.

You are about to visit:

visiting friends and relatives tourism

An official website of the United States government

Here’s how you know

Official websites use .gov A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS A lock ( Lock Locked padlock icon ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Visit the USAGov homepage

International travel documents for children

See what documents a child needs to travel to or from the U.S. alone or with a parent or relative.

Children traveling to the U.S.

All children, including infants, must have their own travel documents such as a passport or document from a Trusted Traveler Program to enter the U.S. If you travel or are going to travel with a child, consider taking the following documents:

  • If the child is traveling with only one of their custodial parents, they must have a letter of consent, preferably in English and notarized, from the other parent or signed by both parents. The letter should say "I acknowledge that my son/daughter is traveling outside the country with [the name of the adult] with my permission."
  • If one parent has sole custody of the child, a copy of the custody document can take the place of the other parent's letter.
  • Parents who frequently cross the border by land with a minor must always carry a letter of permission from the other parent.

U.S. citizen children traveling abroad

Ports of entry in many countries have security measures to prevent international child abduction . If you are traveling alone with your child, you may be required to present documentation proving you are the parent or legal guardian. You may also need a letter of permission from the other parent for your child to travel. 

If your child travels alone, depending on the country, they may be required to present a notarized letter from both parents or their legal guardian. If a minor is traveling abroad and is not accompanied by both parents or a legal guardian, contact the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting and ask about entry and exit requirements for that country.

LAST UPDATED: December 6, 2023

Have a question?

Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They will get you the answer or let you know where to find it.

talk icon

Reuters

Cuba woos Russians, Chinese to revive ailing tourist sector

By Dave Sherwood and Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) - Russian tourist Serguei Boyaryshnic wandered in awe among the pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets of Old Havana on a weekday morning, his family in tow.

"We had heard a lot about Cuba. Our countries have been friends for years," said the 36-year-old Moscow resident, who had joined a small tour group. "We love everything about it."

Cuba has recently begun offering perks to entice visitors like Boyaryshnic from allied countries such as Russia and China as it struggles to revive a stagnant tourism sector still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

That has meant more and sometimes direct flights from Russia and China, the elimination of visa requirements for Chinese visitors and Cuba's recent decision to accept Russia's Mir payment cards, one of only a handful of countries to join Moscow's alternative to Visa and Mastercard. 

That strategy has paid early dividends. 

More than 66,000 Russians visited the Caribbean island in the first three months of the year, state-run Cuban media reported, double that of the same period in 2023. The Russian visitors are one of Cuba's few tourism bright spots, however.

Stiff U.S. sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump contributed to a sharp reduction in U.S. visitors and arrivals from many European countries have also dropped off this year, state data shows.

 Cuba's bet on distant countries may not make up for the overall visitor decline, said Paolo Spadoni, an associate professor at Augusta University and expert on Cuban tourism. A trip from Beijing, with layovers, for example, can require 24 hours or more of travel.

"It's a long shot," said Spadoni. "(Chinese and Russian visitors) may provide some relief in the short term, but it's very unlikely that they will make up for the lost contingent of European and American visitors."

That means Cuba is unlikely to meet its goal of attracting 3.2 million visitors in 2024, Spadoni said. He estimates the island will receive between 2.6 million and 2.7 million tourists this year.

On a recent weekday morning, Old Havana - a U.N. World Heritage site and one of Latin America's most famed tourist hotspots - was eerily quiet. 

Signs of an ailing industry are everywhere. Hotel lobbies and restaurants, once popular with foreigners, are all but barren. White-sand beaches see few international visitors. And at Havana's airport, taxi drivers complain they often wait all day for a single client.

For Migdalia Gonzalez, a 55-year-old street vendor in Old Havana, the situation couldn't be worse. 

She has noticed more Russian and Chinese tourists than in years past, but neither were fans of the empanada pastries she sells.

"Tourist activity here has hit rock bottom," she said. 

(Reporting by Nelson Acosta and Dave Sherwood, additional reporting by Anett Rios, Alien Fernandez and Rod Nickel)

Tourists ride in a vintage car at the Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, June 8, 2024. REUTERS/Yander Zamora

Onmanorama

  • WEB STORIES New
  • ENTERTAINMENT
  • CAREER & CAMPUS
  • INFOGRAPHICS
  • T20 World Cup 2024

PlayStore

  • Manorama Online
  • Manorama News TV
  • ManoramaMAX
  • Radio Mango
  • Subscription

Onmanorama

UAE visiting visa: Airlines give strict directions to comply with rules

 alt=

Against the backdrop of the UAE recently issuing guidelines relating to its visiting visa, airline companies have given strict directions to people who are planning to visit the country on visit and tourist visas for a hassle-free travel experience. The passengers entering the UAE on visit and tourist visas should have a passport with a validity of six months, a return ticket, hotel reservation details and a fixed amount for travel expenses. In a circular issued by Indian companies such as Indigo and Air India Express to the travel agents, the airlines have stated that the passengers with a month-long visa should have 3,000 dirhams (Rs 68,000) in their pocket and those with a visa having a validity of more than one month should carry 5,000 dirhams (Rs 1.13 lakh).

If the passengers are planning to stay with their friends or relatives in the UAE, their addresses and phone numbers should be produced. Indigo has made it clear that passengers without requisite documents won’t be allowed to travel to the UAE. The strictures had been issued against the backdrop of the UAE toughening its visiting visa rules. Many people couldn’t fly to the UAE due to a lack of proper travel papers in the recent times. The airlines gave the directions to the travel agents in a bid to clear the confusion about the changes in the UAE visiting visa rules.

Passengers suffer as coaches reduced in Antyodaya Express

Passengers suffer as coaches reduced in Antyodaya Express

Kozhikode bound Air India Express rerouted due to fog: Several services to be affected

Kozhikode bound Air India Express rerouted due to fog: Several services to be affected

Planning a Euro trip? Details on the latest Schengen visa fee hike

Planning a Euro trip? Details on the latest Schengen visa fee hike

Luxury box at Kerala's Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Are facilities up to the mark?

Luxury box at Kerala's Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Are facilities up to the mark?

These routes have a base airfare of less than Rs 1000: Details

These routes have a base airfare of less than Rs 1000: Details

Luxury box to be introduced for this year's Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Ticket price and more

Luxury box to be introduced for this year's Nehru Trophy Boat Race: Ticket price and more

Air India, Delhi Metro offer baggage drop services for international travellers

Air India, Delhi Metro offer baggage drop services for international travellers

IRCTC launches seven-day tour package to Sri Lanka

IRCTC launches seven-day tour package to Sri Lanka

UAE visiting visa: Airlines give strict directions to comply with rules

IMAGES

  1. International Networking: Why Traveling to Visit Friends and Family is

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

  2. NaTHNaC

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

  3. Travelling to Visit Friends and Relatives Overseas

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

  4. Happy Group of Friends Tourists Sightseeing in City on Vacation Stock

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

  5. Visiting friends and relatives (VFR): A simple explanation

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

  6. Number of people flying to visit friends and relatives at all-time high

    visiting friends and relatives tourism

VIDEO

  1. Research Snapshot Visiting Friends and Relatives Tourism

  2. Visiting Relatives House.... 💕

  3. Visiting to Relatives

  4. Traveling by car and seeing relatives and nature in Switzerland 4k (سوئیس)

  5. Visiting Relatives home😅 #tejindia #dorasaiteja #shorts

COMMENTS

  1. Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) is BIG. Here's why

    Visiting friends and relatives is a term that we hear thrown around frequently within the tourism industry. And, to be frank- it's actually not difficult to understand. Essentially, VFR is the movement of a person away from the place in which they live to a place where a family member or friend lives.

  2. Visiting friends and relatives

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR tourism / VFR travel) is a substantial form of travel worldwide. One definition put forward has been "VFR travel is a form of travel involving a visit whereby either (or both) the purpose of the trip or the type of accommodation involves visiting friends and / or relatives" [1] This has subsequently been ...

  3. Visiting Friends & Relatives: VFR Travel

    CDC Yellow Book 2024. Author (s): Danushka Wanduragala, Christina Coyle, Kristina Angelo, William Stauffer. In this book, a "visiting friends and relatives (VFR) traveler" is defined as a person who currently resides in a higher-income country who returns to their former home (in a lower-income country) for the purpose of visiting friends ...

  4. Visiting Friends or Relatives

    Even if you traveled to another country to visit your friends or relatives in the past, there may be vaccines, medicines or other health precautions you need to take for your next trip. Take the following steps to prepare for your trip. Check CDC's destination pages for travel health information. Check CDC's webpage for your destination to ...

  5. Visiting Friends, Relatives Will Power Post-Pandemic Travel

    Its findings suggest that 'visiting friends and relatives' (VFR) trips are destined to be a major driving force in the global travel industry's recovery, and tourism providers should not underestimate their influence. "GlobalData's forecasts suggest that visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travel will experience higher growth, with a 17 ...

  6. Visiting Friends and Relatives, Tourism

    The visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism is defined as "a form of travel that is about being co-present with significant 'faces', being their guests, receiving their hospitality and perhaps enjoying their knowledge of local culture" (Larsen et al. 2007: 247).VFR tourists were largely ignored in research until the mid-1990s, mainly due to the common perception that they made ...

  7. Visiting Friends & Relatives: VFR Travel

    Visiting Friends & Relatives: VFR Travel. Jay S. Keystone. DEFINITION OF VFR. A traveler categorized as a VFR is an immigrant, ethnically and racially distinct from the majority population of the country of residence (a higher-income country), who returns to his or her home country (lower-income country) to visit friends or relatives. Included ...

  8. Visiting Friends or Relatives Traveler in the 21st Century: Time for a

    Travel for the purpose of visiting friends or relatives (VFR travel) is a concept first defined by the travel and tourism industry and included travelers whose main purpose of travel was family‐related, and were therefore distinct from tourist, business, or long‐term travelers such as missionaries or other volunteers. ... International ...

  9. Visiting friends and relatives tourism and implications for community

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism accounts for a substantial amount of worldwide travel, yet has received comparatively little attention regarding its impacts on sustainability. This paper provides an initial discussion that situates VFR tourism within a discussion on sustainable tourism development. The community capitals framework ...

  10. Visiting Friends and Relatives

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism is defined as "a specific type of mobility influenced by hosts that includes a prior personal relationship between host and visitor and some face-to-face interaction, or co-presence, between them during the act of mobility" (Munoz et al. 2017: 477).The VFR co-presence can occur in the form of being hosted, acting as the main purpose of a trip, a ...

  11. VFR traveller demographics: The social tourism dimension

    Abstract. The global phenomenon of visiting friends and relatives (VFR) travel is substantial, including in developed countries. In profiling its dimensions, researchers have examined various VFR characteristics including length of stay, origins and travel mode, though no thorough exploration has been undertaken of VFR demographics.

  12. What is visiting friends and relatives in tourism?

    Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is a significant segment of the tourism industry that involves individuals traveling to visit their friends or relatives who reside in a different location. This form of tourism is fueled by personal and social connections, whereby people undertake journeys to reconnect with loved ones, celebrate special ...

  13. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VISITING FRIENDS AND RELATIVES MARKETS ...

    Travel and Tourism Research Association: Advancing Tourism Research Globally CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VISITING FRIENDS AND RELATIVES ... It has been known that visiting friends or relatives (VFR) contributes a significant portion of the international and domestic travel markets (Lehto, Morrison, & O'Leary, 2001; Morrison, ...

  14. (PDF) Visiting friends and relatives tourism and implications for

    Visiting friends and relatives tourism and implications for community capital Abstract Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism accounts for a substantial amount of worldwide travel, yet has received comparatively little attention regarding its impacts on sustainability. This paper provides an initial discussion that situates VFR tourism ...

  15. Aspirational intimacy in visiting friends and relatives

    The tourism literature has painted a mostly normative view of relationships and visiting friends and relatives. Migrant visits have been defined by a family-centric view of disaggregating friends and family (Backer et al., 2017; Seaton & Tie, 2015) and the nostalgic salience of physical proximity. Against this background, our research makes two ...

  16. (PDF) Visiting friends and relatives tourism and implications for

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism accounts for a substantial amount of worldwide travel, yet has received comparatively little attention regarding its impacts on sustainability. This ...

  17. Towards a new definition for "visiting friends and relatives"

    "Visiting friends and relatives" (VFR) is a tourism term used in academic and practitioner vernacular that refers to a substantial amount of activity and is yet commonly disregarded. This paper builds on previous literature that has demonstrated how a lack of understanding of what VFR encompasses facilitates the phenomenon to be undervalued ...

  18. Visiting friends and relatives tourism and implications for community

    Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism accounts for a substantial amount of worldwide travel, yet has received comparatively little attention regarding its impacts on sustainability. This paper provides an initial discussion that situates VFR tourism within a discussion on sustainable tourism development. The community capitals framework is used as a basis for the discussion.

  19. Visiting friends or relatives?

    This study is the first based on two large data sets covering domestic and international travellers. Visiting friends and relatives (VFR) contributes significantly to tourism activity and revenues, accounting for about 48 percent of domestic travel in Australia. Implicit in most discussions of VFR travel is that it represents one homogeneous ...

  20. Visiting Family and Friends Tourism

    Visiting Family and Friends Tourism Visiting family and friends (VFF) tourism is the practice of travelling to (un)familiar places for the purpose of meeting people who are personally esteemed or valued. VFF is conceptually synonymous with VFR (visiting friends and relatives), and both forms of tourism are considered to be among the oldest ...

  21. (PDF) Segmenting the visiting friends and relatives travel market to a

    Department of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, University of Florida, 312 Florida Gym, P.O. Box 11 8208, Gainesville, FL 3261 1-8208, USA

  22. Visiting friend and relative

    The visiting friends and relatives (VFR) tourism is defined as "a form of travel that is about being co-present with significant 'faces', being their guests, receiving their hospitality and perhaps enjoying their knowledge of local culture" (Larsen et al. 2007:247).VFR tourists were largely ignored in research until the mid-1990s, mainly due to the common perception that they made ...

  23. Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) Tourism in London

    ABSTRACT. Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) is a segment of tourism that has been suffering from an absence of recognition and lack of appreciation. This study explores the experience of International Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) market in a destination- in London. There have been no previous studies on this particular subject.

  24. Top Parisian attractions

    Things to do, museums, monuments, gardens, theme parks … discover it all with the family A weekend in Paris with friends Live it up with fascinating museums, party venues, places to eat, gardens, bike rentals …

  25. Tourism & Visit

    A foreign national traveling to the United States for tourism needs a visitor visa (B-2 or combined B1/B2) unless qualifying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program. Travel for pleasure or tourism may include a short visit for vacation, visiting family and friends, or for medical treatment.

  26. Everything you need to know about getting a tourist visa for Dubai

    Indian citizens who are holders of tourist visas from the USA, green cards, or have a residence visa in the UK or EU will also receive a visa on arrival, for 14 days, provided that the green card ...

  27. International travel documents for children

    U.S. citizen children traveling abroad. Ports of entry in many countries have security measures to prevent international child abduction.If you are traveling alone with your child, you may be required to present documentation proving you are the parent or legal guardian.

  28. Cuba woos Russians, Chinese to revive ailing tourist sector

    HAVANA (Reuters) - Russian tourist Serguei Boyaryshnic wandered in awe among the pastel-colored buildings and cobblestone streets of Old Havana on a weekday morning, his family in tow. "We had ...

  29. UAE visiting visa: Airlines give strict directions to comply with rules

    If the passengers are planning to stay with their friends or relatives in the UAE, their addresses and phone numbers should be produced. Indigo has made it clear that passengers without requisite documents won't be allowed to travel to the UAE. The strictures had been issued against the backdrop of the UAE toughening its visiting visa rules.