Literary tourism is a type of cultural tourism that deals with places and events from fictional texts as well as the lives of their authors. This could include following the route taken by a fictional character, visiting particular place associated with a novel or a novelist, such as their home, or visiting a poet's grave. Some scholars regard literary tourism as a contemporary type of secular pilgrimage. There are also long-distance walking routes associated with writers, such as the Thomas Hardy Way.
Literary tourists are specifically interested in how places have influenced writing and at the same time how writing has created place. In order to become a literary tourist you need only book-love and an inquisitive mindset; however, there are literary guides, literary maps, and literary tours to help you on your way. There are also many museums associated with writers, and these are usually housed in buildings associated with a writer's birth or literary career, such as their home.
While most literary tourism is focused on famous works, more modern works that are written to specifically promote tourism are called tourism fiction. Modern tourism fiction can include travel guides within the story showing readers how to visit the real places in the fictional tales. With recent technological advances in publishing, digital tourism fiction books can even allow literary tourists to follow direct links to tourism websites related to the story. This can be done on new e-reading devices like the Kindle, iPad, iPhone, smart phones, tablets, and regular desktop and laptop computers. These links within the story allow readers to instantly learn about the real places without doing their own web searches.
The first classic novel to take advantage of tourism fiction technology was F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise: Interactive Tourism Edition, published by the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative in 2012. The tourism edition offered web links to tours of Princeton University, where Fitzgerald attended in real life and where the fictional protagonist in the novel Amory Blaine attended. The tourism edition also offered links to Montgomery, Alabama, where Fitzgerald fell in love with his future wife Zelda Sayre, much like the fictional character Amory fell in love with Rosalind.
In addition to visiting author and book sites, literary tourists often engage in bookstore tourism, browsing local bookshops for titles specifically related to the sites as well as other regional books and authors.
Literary tourism is a National Research Foundation-funded project in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The project, KZN Literary Tourism, has a Literary Map connecting authors whose lives or work is tied in some significant way to specific places in KwaZulu-Natal. Each author entry contains a short biography, a selected bibliography and an excerpt from the author's work that relates to the place identified in the map.