A tour operator actually takes you around the place you are visiting.
A travel agent helps you make your resevations/booking, perhaps with the tour operator you have chosen.
But why does the dictionary says that a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours?
An agent is someone who acts for someone else. A travel agent sells various and sundry parts of travel for other concerns: airlines, cruise lines, hotels, automobile rental companies, tour operators, and others. A tour operator plans, arranges, advertises, sells, and operates tours. Tours are best defined as pre-planned travel. One may, for example, purchase a tour to the American Southwest. This tour may include: transportation by motor coach from a certain location, lodging, attractions, and the services of a tour guide. A tour operator may be very localized and only offer tours of parts of Chicago, for example. Other tour operators offer tours throughout the world. Some tour operators are known as tour wholesalers because they do not sell their own tours, but rely on travel agents to do the selling. Other tour operators may sell their tours to groups who request specialized tours. For many years I planned tours, mostly in the US, and sold these tours myself and through interested travel agencies. While I still operate the occasional tour, I now instruct budding tour operators how to set up and work a tour business.But why does the dictionary says that a tour operator is a company that arranges travel tours?
Which dictionary? Not all dictionaries are of equal authority.
This is right to an extent- they do arrange tours, but they actually take you on them.
Nobody would call a "travel agent" a "tour operator" here. Or vice versa.
Your #1 a few posts ago -- the bus (coach) with their name on the side, an employee on the bus telling us about the sites, the meals paid for through the tour at pre-arranged restaurants, the hotels arranged, etc. -- that's what a tour operator is to me.
I might use my travel agent to book a tour with R2D2 tours, and my travel agent to get me the airline tickets to get to the start of the tour site, but then R2D2 takes over from there and makes sure I see everything there is to see.