Although a great deal has been written about the constantly debated relationship between tourist and traveler (tourism and travel) with often quite different ideological approaches being adopted, nevertheless consensus still seems to be a distant reality. In this article, the reasons for this apparent theoretical impasse are explored by tracing its historical origins. Most scholars agree that tourism as a modern phenomenon appeared on the horizon of Western European society in the second half of the eighteenth century, thereby allowing a broad historical and dualistic conceptualization of tourism, which added to its dynamic characteristic (travel) a notion of temporary sojourn including leisure (villeggiatura, spas, etc.). The background of an articulated Enlightenment revealed not only a new anthropological curiosity about the Other, but also features like conspicuous consumption and eudaemonism, which played and continue to exert a fundamental role in the tourism of yesterday and today. Furthermore, the emerging dialectic between the new social actor (the tourist) and the movement (tourism) can currently be read as a substantial and dramatic “figuration“ (Elias 1978a), encompassing unforeseen consequences within the framework of communication.