Why Tourists Buy Unique Souvenirs

You’ve seen the typical souvenir postcard that says “Wish you were here”. A unique souvenir from a place we’ve traveled helps us relive the journey over and over again.

The U.S. gift, novelty, and souvenir industry has a combined annual revenue of about $18 billion. Souvenirs (French for remembrance or memory), are an important part of tourism, especially local tourism. Tourists want unique souvenirs to take home to remind them of them of an experience they had or to give a gift to someone who wasn’t able to have that experience.

In Japan they have a strong custom of giving gifts of omiyage. In English that means souvenir, but it’s a little different than in the U.S. The person who is traveling will buy themselves unique souvenirs, but they buy omiyage for the people who weren’t able to make the trip. Non-food items are usually bought by the traveler for themselves, but omiyage is usually a food product that can be shared with others on their arrival back home. This is quite often given to friends and co-workers.

Souvenirs can be bought in a gift shop and could be something mass produced like a T-shirt, ashtray, magnet, water bottle, postcards, bowls or mugs. Or unique souvenirs could also be a local artisan craft product or something that represents the local culture of the area. Sometimes souvenirs can be a natural item such as sand or a seashell from a beach.

Memorabilia is a type of souvenir which is connected to an event. This could be a sporting event, historical event, concert or festival. These souvenirs are usually posters or clothing. Memorabilia can become quite valuable over time, depending on the event  and the item.

Just like any other industry, the souvenir industry needs to keep evolving and bringing in new, unique souvenirs to entice tourists to buy. Not only is it good for the local economies, but advertises the region to people who have yet to travel there.