"Cook's tour" is a phrase with two meanings. The main one is a guided but cursory tour of a place, covering only the main features, or any quick overview of only the highlights of a subject. This meaning originates in Thomas Cook, the 19th century English travel agent (and pretty much the world's first travel agent), whose organized tours were the first travel packages where everything was arranged for the customer. This meaning first seems to have been seen in print about 1909.

The second meaning, as Australian Paul Tilley wrote in after the first meaning was featured on A.Word.A.Day, is based on the travel of Captain James Cook in the Pacific; it means a "journey whereby the destination is arrived at by a very non-direct, roundabout and touristy route, reflecting the round-about routes taken by Captain Cook in the Endeavour and the Resolution, on his voyages of discovery." This seems to be the more common meaning of "Cook's tour" in Australia.

And as Google searching will reveal, "Cook's tour" has very often been used for books and television to mean exploring the culinary specialties of an area; "A Cook's Tour" is the most obvious use of the phrase recently.


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