Special Interest Tourism is a profound field in the tourism industry that has exuded great potential and growth in the past 10 years. It has realised this growth due to its niche markets and the unique value proposition it offers customers. It has emerged that tourists not only crave for specialized experiences, but they are willing to spend good money and time indulging in these activities. This field mainly rose above the conventional tourism due to its ability to offer more authentic experiences, which include: religious, educational, cultural and natural experiences. The demand for this these experiences have increased considerably over the past few years.
The World Trade Organization (UNWTO) forecasts that niche tourism could grow at 4% annually and this can be attributed to factors such as e-commerce. Industry players have taken advantage of technology (mainly mobile internet) to package and market tourist destinations that are not only appealing in terms of experience, but are also friendly on the pocket. The advent of e-commerce has eased how customers interact with tourism providers therefore eliminating the middle man who was the tourist agent. Also with the maturation of social media, more individuals have exposure to indigenous sites and cultures that would not have been possible years ago.
The dynamics of the world have changed as they should and more people are more aware of the benefits of travelling and are able to financially plan for these trips. More and more people are motivated to travel. Secondly, most travellers change their travelling patterns based on motivation and the expectations they aim to realise. Also, more tourists are demanding quality with respect to the destinations and the experiences they have paid for. Quality therefore often is not an impediment to the cost of the experience. Consumers are also looking for experiences that require very little input from them especially with the surge of so much information on the internet; they therefore gravitate towards providers who are willing to the bulk of the work. Lastly, consumers reach out for experiences that offer value and are unique.
Currently, there is an array of special interest tourism packages that are offered depending on the country and the aim of the experience. Usually these experiences are based on the following outcomes: a tourist wanting to gain some sort of reward by embarking on an adventure, the desire to learn more about a place or a peoples culture, to enrich their lives whether religiously or culturally. Therefore, niche tourism has many tailor-made packages that cater to the needs of specialized groups of individuals. In Ceba, Philippines, Cultural attractions are also part and parcel of the packages offered and include visits to prehistoric sites, religious sites, rural attractions that include visits to farms, wineries, mines and agricultural regions, recreational attractions that include casinos, sports events and themed parks.
New trends in special interest include Energy Tourism and renting/lodging personal spaces. Renting and lodging personal spaces is highly espoused by Airbnb, a start-up that shook the hospitality industry. More individuals are looking to have personalized experiences that do not cost them much and hence renting another person's space provides the opportunity to do just that. Therefore, collaboration between the tourism board and individuals interested in providing these services would be a welcome deed. Energy tourism has emerged in the wake of the threat of Global Warming and its adverse effects. Consumers are interested in exploring alternative sources of energy and how they can apply them to their everyday lives. Therefore consumers are moving towards experiences that are both gratifying and beneficial.
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