Do you know what special interest tourism is? If not, don't worry – you're not alone! Many people are unfamiliar with this term. But special interest tourism is an important sector of the tourism industry, and it's something that tour operators should be familiar with.

In this blog post, we will explain what special interest tourism is and why it's important. We'll also discuss how tour businesses can offer this type of tourism. Let's get started!

What is special interest tourism?

Special interest tourism (or specialist interest tourism) is a type of tourism that focuses on specific activities, interests, or experiences. It can include anything from environmental tourism to responsible tourism to film tourism.

Special interest tourists are looking for unique experiences that they won't find elsewhere, so tour businesses need to understand their needs and preferences.

Think about quality over quantity. By tapping into a more specific market, you can provide an experience that matches a corresponding specific interest of the audience.

In the tourism industry where competition is rampant, having a well-defined special interest tour can help you stand out from the crowd. In fact, special interest tourism has seen a rapid growth now more than ever.

Characteristics of special interest tourism

Special interest tourists differ from regular travelers in that they are looking for a more focused experience. They often have specific interests and knowledge, and they may require certain services or amenities to enhance their visit.

Because of this, special interest tourism requires more detailed planning than other types of tourism. Tour operators must research areas of interest and offer activities and attractions that appeal to their target audience with practical perspective.

They must also understand the local culture and customs, as many special interest activities revolve around cultural experiences.

Why is special interest tourism important?

Special interest tourism provides many benefits to the tourism sector. It allows people to explore unique experiences and activities in an organized and safe manner. This type of tourism also helps to preserve cultural heritage and promote sustainability.

By providing travelers with an authentic and educational experience, special interest tourism allows them to gain a better understanding of different cultures and customs. It also helps to create awareness about environmental issues and encourages responsible travel practices.

Now, people are shying away from the traditional mass tourism model and leaning towards more sustainable and niche travel decisions to satisfy their travel needs.

For instance, tourists would swap their beach trip for a specialist painting holiday or even an adventure across Jordan. This surge in popularity inspire people and has propelled the emergence of special interest tourism, as more and more individuals want to experience something unique.

The growth of specialist tourism

In the wake of COVID-19, people have developed a newfound appreciation for exploring beyond their own homes. This has become especially true as they are now more aware of all the possibilities that lie outside their comfort zones.

Therefore, tour businesses have the opportunity to tap into the growing special interest tourism market and provide specialized services that cater to specific interests. They should research their target audience thoroughly, understand their needs and preferences, and design itineraries accordingly.

Examples of special interest tourism

There are over 150 types of special interest tourism, from eco-tourism to wellness tours. Below are some examples of the main special interest tourism examples:

Health Tourism

This type of tourism combines medical treatments with leisure activities, allowing people to receive medical care and explore a new destination at the same time.

It also includes visiting spas, resorts, and other wellness centers for relaxation.

What's great about health tourism is that travelers can receive health benefits while exploring a new city or country, so this SIT is common for businesses to recommend to tourists.

Culinary/Food Tourism

This type of special interest tourism revolves around food.

The activities involve visiting local restaurants to try out special dishes, attending cooking classes, and taking guided tours of historical sites related to culinary arts. Tourists can also visit farms, markets, and wineries.

Culinary tourism allows people to immerse themselves in the local culture and learn about different cuisines, ingredients, and cooking techniques.

Read: Here's How to Start a Food Tour Business: A Step-by-Step Guide

Adventure Tourism

Adventure tourism involves adventure activities such as mountain biking or climbing, rafting, kayaking, mountaineering, parasailing, etc. It is a great way for tourists to explore and experience the great outdoors.

It also helps to promote sustainable development in local communities, as it encourages the preservation of natural resources and respect for the environment.

Usual destinations for adventure tourism of SIT include Australia, Africa, Thailand, and many more. Take note that this is also known as the environmental tourism.

Dark Tourism

As its name suggests, dark tourism involves visiting places associated with death, tragedy, or suffering.

Some examples of destinations include the Auschwitz concentration camp and the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

This special interest in tourism may be controversial for some people, but it gives visitors an insight into the history and culture of a destination. It also helps to create awareness about dark events that have occurred in the past.

Spiritual/Religious Tourism

For tourists who are looking for a more meaningful experience, spiritual or religious tourism is the answer.

This special interest in tourism involves visiting holy places and participating in rituals that are specific to the destination’s culture.

Examples include attending Hindu festivals in India, exploring temples in Cambodia, and touring churches in Europe. Tourists can also take part in meditation retreats and yoga classes for a deeper understanding of the local religion.

Cultural Tourism

This special interest in tourism revolves around exploring the culture, traditions, and customs of certain destinations.

It can include attending festivals and special events, taking part in cultural workshops, touring historical sites, and visiting museums to learn about different cultures.

Cultural tourism is a great way for tourists to gain an appreciation of local customs and traditions, giving them a deeper understanding of the destination.

Rural Tourism

Traveling in the countryside may be a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Rural tourism offers travelers a unique opportunity to connect with nature, explore picturesque landscapes, and get back in touch with traditional ways of life.

Popular spots and destinations for this include Poland, the Middle East, the Philippines, and more. This type of SIT is ideal for people who want to learn more about rural cultures and experience life outside of tourist destinations.

From visiting farms to taking part in nature activities, it provides an immersive experience that can’t be found elsewhere.

Wildlife Tourism

Animal interaction is also a popular special interest in tourism. Wildlife tourism involves visiting wildlife preserves, zoos, and animal sanctuaries to observe animals in their natural habitat or learn about conservation efforts.

This is beneficial for both travelers and the local community as it can help promote environmental awareness and generate income for the local economy. Popular destinations for wildlife tourism include Africa, Australia, and the Galapagos Islands.

Sports Tourism

For active travelers, sports tourism involves activities such as skiing, surfing, golfing, and more. Tourists can also experience special sports events such as the Olympics or watch professional sporting events in person.

Sports tourism is not just about taking part in athletic activities; it’s also an opportunity to explore a destination and learn about its culture and traditions. Germany, Italy, the Middle East, Spain, Belgium, and more are great destinations for this special interest in tourism.

Architourism (or Architectural Tourism)

While this special interest in tourism is not as popular, it still offers travelers an interesting experience. Architourism involves visiting destinations that are renowned for their architecture and design.

This special interest can involve exploring the Old Town of Prague, admiring Renaissance buildings in Florence, or touring modern skyscrapers in Singapore. It’s a great way to gain an appreciation of the history and culture behind a destination’s architecture.

Battlefields Tourism

For those who are fascinated by history and warfare, special interest in tourism also provides battlefield tours. These offer travelers a chance to explore the sites of famous wars and battles from around the world.

Battlefields tourism can include touring World War II memorials in France, visiting sites from the American Civil War, or learning about historical landmarks from the Korean War. It’s an interesting and unique way to explore history in a new light.

Wedding Tourism

Newlyweds may opt for a special interest in tourism to take part in a destination wedding. From beach weddings in Greece to mountain elopements in Switzerland, this special interest offers couples the chance to get married in a beautiful and romantic location.

Wedding tourism can also include attending special events such as traditional Indian or Chinese weddings. This is a great way to get a deeper understanding of foreign cultures and their wedding ceremonies.

Dive into Special Tourism Research

Unlock the secrets of special interest tourism with experts B. Weiler and C. Hall and the treasure trove of information in the Journal of Travel Research! Weiler and Hall explore why people choose holidays based on hobbies, like food tours or bird-watching trips. Their findings help us understand what makes these special trips tick and how they’re different from regular holidays.

Meanwhile, the Journal of Travel Research is your go-to place for all things travel and tourism, packed with studies and articles that explore people's many travel styles. For businesses and travel buffs, these resources are gold!

Use their insights to create engaging travel experiences that speak directly to travelers’ unique interests and passions. It’s all about crafting journeys that people love because they’re tailored just for them.

Wrapping Up

Special interest in tourism is an ideal way to explore a new destination and gain a deeper appreciation for its culture, traditions, and landscapes. From wildlife tours to wedding ceremonies, special interests in tourism can be tailored to any traveler’s unique interests.

Finding the right SIT as a tour operator may be challenging, but the rewards are worth it for providing travelers with special and authentic experiences.

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Ticketinghub enables tour operators to easily create and sell special interest tours online. Our innovative booking system allows you to manage special requests, discounts, availability, and more tourism management tools — all in one place!

With Ticketinghub, special interest tourism has never been easier. Get started today and make special interest tourism work for your business.

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What is the meaning of special interest tourism?

Special interest tourism refers to travel motivated by the specific interests or passions of the tourist, rather than traditional tourism destinations. Special interest tourism definition encompasses various niche markets and forms of tourism, including cultural sites, wellness tourism, adventure activities, sports tourism, and eco-tourism. Activities are centered around unique, often specialized interests or customized leisure experiences.

What is an example of special interest tourism?

Special interest tourism could include culinary tourism, where travelers explore destinations to experience local cuisines and culinary traditions. Other examples include bird-watching tours, wine-tasting trips, and historical exploration, all of which fall under specialized tourism due to their specific focus.

Is special interest tourism in demand?

Absolutely! Over the past decade, special interest tourism has become a hot trend in the travel world, showing rising demand. Why? More and more travelers want unique experiences. They're not just visiting a particular destination; they're diving deep into what makes that place special.

This isn't just a passing trend. It's a growing industry. People are moving away from tourist spots and seeking out activities and experiences that match their personal interests. Think about it: instead of just visiting a city, travelers are now keen on joining recreational activities or learning from local people about their culture and traditions.

Recognizing this shift, many places are stepping up their destination marketing game. They're offering flexible packages that let tourists truly engage with the local area. It's not just about seeing sights anymore; it's about buying experiences that enrich the soul and promote well-being.

In short, the increasing number of travelers wanting more than just a standard vacation is the chief driver behind this boom. They're after genuine, memorable moments, and special interest tourism delivers just that.

What are the motivations for special interest tourism?

Motivation for special interest tourism often stems from a desire to delve deeper into particular hobbies or passions. Travelers may seek authentic experiences, knowledge enhancement, social interaction, or even physical wellness. These interests are all catered for by unique activities and destinations related to their interests, such as special interest holidays.

How do you identify special interests?

Identifying special interests involves exploring and understanding personal preferences, passions, and hobbies. It could be related to activities like hiking, historical exploration, or culinary experiences. These activities can be catered for through specialist tourism offerings, providing in-depth and tailored experiences.

What are special interest sites?

Special interest sites refer to destinations or platforms that cater to the specific hobbies or passions of a group of people. Special interest tourism sites might include historical landmarks, nature reserves, or culinary hotspots. These sites offer distinctive experiences and cater to particular interests or activities.

What is the difference between mass tourism and special interest tourism?

While mass tourism typically involves large numbers of people visiting popular destinations for general leisure activities, special interest tourism is characterized by travelers seeking specialized experiences aligned with their specific interests or passions, such as bird-watching or historical exploration, often in small groups.

What are the five tourist motivations?

The five tourist motivations include:

  1. Knowledge: Seeking information and education.
  2. Adventure: Pursuing thrills and excitement.
  3. Relaxation: Desiring rest and rejuvenation.
  4. Social Interaction: Wants to engage with others.
  5. Personal Fulfillment: Seeking self-actualization and accomplishment through travel.

What motivates tourists?

The main factors that motivate tourists include cultural curiosity, adventure seeking, relaxation, business purposes, and social interaction. In special interest tourism, motivations might also be deeply tied to specific hobbies or passions. For example, exploring specialised tourism examples like culinary or adventure tourism.

What are the two main roles of a special interest group?

Special interest groups have two main roles: advocacy and representation. These groups actively influence public policy and opinion in favor of their particular interests or causes. They represent the needs and desires of their members, often playing a crucial role in shaping related policies and practices.

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