SIT- special interest tourism is a part of existing tourism industry today. Nowadays, people are more confident about travelling abroad and looking for something different rather than for sun and sand holidays. Special interest tourism is a type of holiday, replacing the traditional mass market travel packages and allows tourists to choose holidays appealing to their individual and personal needs. According to the World Tourism Industry or WTO, special interest tourism can be defined as the specialized tourism that involved individual or group tours by those people who wishes to develop their given interests or visit sites and places that has a relation or connection with their specific interest or subject.
The aim of SIT is to satisfy specific needs or interests of individuals or groups.
The structure of SIT is similar to that of the overall tourism industry. There are many sub-sectors serving individual and personalized needs of tourists, such as:
Attraction and entertainment
Activity and events providers
Travel intermediaries provide information about destinations packages, travel options also making bookings for the customers. They can be represented in the form of tour operators or travel agencies. The main aim of travel agencies is: to sell holidays and associated products such as insurance, cars hire.
Travel agents act as the link between the customer and travel producers. They are usually well trained and can help clients with the advice or provide them with brochures, leaflets or any additional information. They have access online to GDS system, which gives worldwide schedule of all transport.
Tour operators sell combined holidays packages via travel agents or direct to the consumers. There are two types of tour operator: the wholesaler operators, who operate only through travel agency, and the direct sell operators, who market their products direct to the public. They purchase separate elements of accommodation (hotels, guesthouses, and self catering apartments), transport (road, sea, air) and travel services to make a tour package. Many tour operators are making special packages around a particular event, e.g., Olympic Games. There are many web sites specialize in certain products, like lastminute.com that specialize in discounted accommodation.
Travel facilitators are all the range of services offered to the consumers. It can be: tourist information centre, tour guides, medical providers, currency exchange bureau.
Transport providers are those operating any major form of transport. These would include airlines, water based transport and land based, such as roads and rails.
Land based transport covers all forms vehicles such as bus, taxi, private car, and bicycle. Rail travel has become very popular since opening of the Channel tunnel. Rail companies provide a scheduled service within a home country and customers can reserved the seats by themselves.
The airlines can be divided into scheduled, which operate with regular published schedule, e.g., British Airways, and charter airlines, which fly to certain destinations under charter to a tour operator. Many countries have their national airline, like British Airways in UK.
Water based transport is represented by ferries and cruise ships. Ferries operators provide vital links between islands, rivers, seas. Cruising can be river cruises, sea/oceans cruises, e.g. Mediterranean, Atlantic oceans, and can be considered as a ”special interest” when there is something additional from cruise, like education or special hobby. Tourist choice of transport will depend on price, destination, time, accessibility of the destination.
Accommodation can be reserved individually or can be purchased by tour operator. Guest facilities will vary according to the type of the place. Accommodation can be divided into two categories: serviced accommodation (where all meals are provided), and self-catering accommodation (where occupants provide their own food). A 5 star hotel can provide a full range of services, such as restaurants, plasma TV, function rooms, mini bars in the rooms, room service available 24/7. In the caravan park you can only find fast food shops and vending machines.
Providers of attractions need to undertake the market research in order to meet all the needs of tourists. Typical attractions can be man-made (theme parks, zoos), natural (mountains), cultural (Louvre Gallery in Paris). A lot of destinations are promoted via special events (World Cup, Olympic Games) or various activities (diving, winter skiing resorts)
In addition to attractions, a lot of destinations are promoted via special events or activities, which include World Cup, Olympic Games.
The development of special interest tourism.
Special interest tourism can date back to earliest forms of tourism. The first tourists travelled for specific reasons, e.g., religious, cultural or for trading purposes. Around the same period, the Greeks travelled to religious festivals, leading to construction of sea ports and accommodation.
In Medieval Times the pilgrims and missionaries became the most active travelers. Pilgrims travelled to the sacred places such as Santiago de Compostella, Jerusalem, driven by their religious convictions.
Tourism grew over the centuries and spread to all over the world.
The new part of tourism, known as Grand Tour, was developed in the early 17th century under the reign of Elizabeth 1.The young men from wealthy families were travelling across Europe to complete their education. London, Paris, Venice, Rome were visited by the young aristocrats to improve their knowledge in the arts and literature. The tours lasted as long as 3 years.
In 1841 Thomas Cook put together the first package tour in history. Thomas Cook’s organized tour consisted of: accommodation, travel tickets, timetables, attractions, travel guides and tours, currency exchange. The first tours were for specific needs and catered more to the mass market with the growth of the company. Thomas Cook started offering tours within UK and soon moved to Europe.
The development of tourism in the 19th century increased due to advent of the railway. It became cheaper, easier and safer to travel, so not only the privileged classes were allowed to travel.
The industrial revolution brought leisure travel to Europe. The middle class had more time and money to travel thanks to the efficient machinery.
In the post war period the development of wide-bodied and faster aircrafts contributed to the growth of the mass tourism. Increase in disposable income has made tourism accessible for a large majority of population. People could afford to take more than one holiday per year. Another factor that contributed to the growth of mass tourism was increase in global wealth leaving people enough disposable income to spend on holidays. The political liberation of the colonized countries built a lot of new tourist destinations, reducing the cost of holidays.
Nowadays, it becomes more popular self-drive holidays to Europe, cruising holidays, Middle East destinations such as Dubai, Egypt, etc. Travelling on the cruise liner gives you opportunity to enjoy your time, there are a lot of activities on the board and the social life is very active, which makes you enjoy holidays even more, staying on the board of enormous liner. Low cost airlines leading to mass tourism travel around the world, e.g. Easy jet airlines.
The social factor which contributed to the growth of tourism is linked with the new attitude to world travel and leisure. People are searching for new destinations, trying to find something unusual and unexplored. Development of leisure centers along with the increased independence of women has also contributed to the tourism. Changing demographics, such as aging population, grown up children have made a big impact on the SIT market.
Sustainable tourism is one of the growing industries, which seeks to protect tourism destinations and reduce an impact of the environment and local culture. With the advent of internet, tourists can attend the locations using web-based interface programmers at the same time reducing the traditional impacts such as travel, accommodation, food wastage.
TASK 2 Understand how special interest tourism matches customers, products and services.
2.1. Discuss the range and classification of tourism products and services available to travellers.
There are many kinds of special tourism interest; it can be educational tourism, sports tourism, sex tourism, health and beauty tourism, arts and entertainment tourism and a lot more. Products can also be divided into various categories, such as rural, urban, over or under water, in the air and others.
The classification of special interest tourism products:
Health and wellness
Sporting and entertainment events
There is no doubt that educational industry has already become one of the most popular types of special interest tourism. The Grand Tours of the 17th century were organized for youth with the purpose of education. Nowadays, many people are travelling to broaden the education, to learn a foreign language and to take a special course. As an example, the short term language courses are designed for students to improve their second language.
People who take cultural holidays are likely to visit museums, galleries and exhibitions, or going to opera or theatre. Heritage tourism is focused on historical attractions and resources.
Cultural tourism gives visitors the opportunity to understand and appreciate the essential character of a place and its culture as a whole, including:
-history and archaeology
-people and their lifestyle
Many cities have had capital of culture status, including London, Dublin and Prague.
Religious events tourism
Religious holidays focus on visiting places with religious significance, like Lourdes in south of France or Holy Land Tour. The Holy Land is a land filled with history, passion and with presence of Jesus. The tourists can uncover the world in which Jesus lived and also enjoy the activities, such as scuba dive, hike, and camel ride or just have fun on the sun. There are specialist tour operators which organize such tours, like The Pilgrimage Trust, a charity, which organizes tour to Lourdes for children with disabilities.
People can take holidays to watch the sport or participate in special events. There are specialist operators offering packages for World Cup, Olympic Games. For instance, Club La Santa provides luxury Spain holidays, sports holidays and fitness activity holidays. The resort features over 25 different sports and different entertainment is available.
Health and wellness tourism
Health and wellness tourism is now available for consumers seeking to enhance their well being through their travel experiences. The aim of tourists is to look and feel better, to lose weight, to slow the effects of aging, to relieve pain or discomfort, or to manage stress.
This market has become very popular as people are becoming more health conscious. There are two main types of health and wellness tourism: spa resorts and medical tourism. There are many spa hotels offering fitness classes, beauty treatments and different types of massage.
Holy Island is one of the best spas in UK, located off the west coast of Scotland. The founder and vision holder of the Holy Isle Project is Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master in the Kagyu tradition. There are many retreat and course programmes taking place in the Centre for World Peace and Health. The island has several areas reserved for birds, animals and tree planting programme.
SIT can be classified according to the type of environment:
Trekking, cycling and hiking are examples of land based special interest tourism. The two main modes of travel are road and rail. Some luxurious trains appeal consumer’s special needs and allow passengers to see spectacular sights from the train.
The Blue Train is a magnificent moving five-star hotel. The routes of The Blue Train – both scheduled and chartered – take guests through some of the most admirable places of the countryside.
The train has luxurious suites with baths and double beds .The guests can enjoy exquisite meals freshly prepared on board by top chefs.
Water based tourism can be presented in form of underwater activities, like diving, and above water, like swimming, cruising and surfing. The Great Barrier Reef is well known for its diving activities, situated on the north-east coast of Australia. It the world’s most extensive stretch of coral reef and is probably the richest area in terms of faunal diversity in the world.
Nature and wilderness tourism focuses on observation of wild animals and birds in their usual environment. As an example it can be tours to Africa Safari or tours to botanical gardens.
Wilderness tourism experiences with undeveloped natural environment, which can include isolation and challenging conditions.
2.2. Diversity and classification of tourist types.
The key to success in SIT is to ensure various tourist types are well matched to the tourist products.
Demand for tourism can be influenced by 3 basic factors:
-purpose for travel (educational, cultural, for health, for sporting events)
-ability to travel (sufficient disposable income, time, freedom of movement)
-travel choices (knowledge about destinations, environmental factors, ability to travel)
Various typologies have been made to classify tourists according their preferences.
The best known are by Cohen and Plog.
Eric Cohen classified tourists according to the nature of the environment they prefer. He places tourists into four following groups:
Organized mass tourist-typically they buy pre-organised packages from tour operators; prefer safe and secure environment and are likely to return to familiar places.
Individual mass tourist- compare to organised mass tourist show more flexibility and have a lot more personal choice.
The explorer- looking for unexplored destinations.
The drifter- generally likes adventurous travelling, e.g. camping in the wilderness area.
Stanley Plog describes three types of tourists:
Allocentric- confident travelers, who enjoy the travel and exploration
Midcentric- tend to adopt the destinations after they have been discovered by allocentric
Psychocentric- are less confident and prefer secure environment
Market segmentation is a process of dividing the market into different groups with common needs and wants. The most common types are:
Geographic location is based upon people live and can be subdivided by country, region, city size, and climate. Where people live in the city can also reflect their income level and ability to buy.
Demographic segmentation is the most common in market segmentation. It can be divided by:
Age (“snowbirds”, empty nesters, young budget travellers)
Gender (women trying to escape from the usual environment and go for holidays, ex. spa breaks; men prefer to travel to more adventurous places)
Religion (retreats, pilgrimages)
Psychographic segmentation determines tourist’s behaviour, their lifestyles, activities and attitudes.
Socio-economic segmentation considers aspects such as occupation, status, social class, income level.
Task 3 Understand the appeal and motivation of special interest tourism for customers.
3.1. Analyse the appeal to customers of special interest tourism features and benefits.
Appeal can be characterised as a kind of tourism products that will enable customer’s needs to be satisfied. The motivation is closely linked to the appeal and seeks to identify people’s needs and wants.
The appeal of the location can be influenced by different factors, like cost, time availability, facilities. If you are planning a family holidays to sea and sun destinations, there are a lot of countries to choose from. The specific location has to appeal to numerous needs and wants of the family, e.g. child-minding facilities, special kid’s menu, available playground, etc.
Appeal can be influenced by features of the destination, like beaches, attractions, number of facilities within the resort.
There are a number of other factors that can contribute to the appeal:
Uniqueness of the destination (Great Wall of China is one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance).
Level of comfort (the tourist seeking luxury accommodation may find the appeal in 5 stars hotels).
Authenticity of the location (the authentic cuisine or traditions appeal to many tourists visiting particular country).
Political factors ( the political instability in Egypt led to a reduction in the flow of tourists)
Environmental factors (tourists tend to avoid places affected by natural disasters, e.g. earthquakes)
3.2. Identify and explain how the motivations of tourists are met by special interest tourism locations and features.
Motivation can be defined as” internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested in and committed to a job, role, or subject, and to exert persistent effort in attaining a goal.”(Businessdictionary.com)
Abraham Maslow outlined a motivational hierarchy consisting of five categories of human needs arranged in ascending order: physiological- basic needs satisfied by such stimulus as food and sleep; security- need for a safe environment free from immediate threat; social-love needs and desire for social acceptance; esteem-need for enhancement and acceptance of self; and self-actualization-striving for full realization of unique characteristics and potentials. The key notion in the model is that as a need category lower in the hierarchy becomes satisfied, its determination of behaviour diminishes and the next higher need category becomes proponent (Adler, S., 1999, p 7).
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs assumes that we all have similar needs and wants to be satisfied. Therefore, it is important to apply motivations in relation to different tourist types.
Motivations for SIT can be divided into two groups:
Intrinsic motivation includes internal desires to perform a particular task, do certain activities because it gives you pleasure, such as challenge, skill improvement or relaxation. The skill improvement relates to educational tourism and gives people opportunity to increase their knowledge in particular field (foreign languages courses, cookery schools in France). One of the main motivations for holidays can be a need to rest, to escape from everyday’s routine.
Extrinsic motivation is the factors external to the individual and unrelated to the task they are performing. Examples include money, status, rewards, and sustainability.
Motivation can also be influenced by demographic factors:
Education (tourists with high level of education are likely to participate in education based activities)
Age ( old couples are seeking comfort and opportunity for sightseeing, while young people are looking more for fun and relaxation)
Family life cycle ( parents with children are motivated by places with numerous kid’s facilities)
TASK 4 Understand management needs and issues of special interest tourism.
4.1. Evaluate the organizational and support logistics involved in the management of special interest tourism trips.
Profitability- is the main goal of all the businesses. Meeting the tourist expectations and providing safe and secure travel arrangements will lead to profitable growth for travel companies. The main thing is to make products profitable attractive for customers by putting correct prices and making them attractive for the market.
Market research is an essential tool for any businesses. It helps to identify potential customers, their needs and expectations. Target marketing is a group of customers to be aimed. Potential customers with similar needs and characteristics are identified and divided by market segments based on age, income level, etc.
Each travel product is made up of several segments, e.g. hotel, transport, accommodation facilities and for the tourists is all have to be organized and put together well. There is a range of challenges coming with travel products, e.g. Tour packages, where the travel agents are responsible for every aspect of the trip.
Examples of operational challenges may include:
Travel permits: visas requirements
Infrastructure: essential shops, medical facilities
Language: difficulties in understanding the foreign language
Transport: availability of transfer coaches or taxis.
Logistics is the management of business operations, such as the acquisition, storage, transportation and delivery of goods along the supply chain. (http://www.investorwords.com)
An SIT sporting event package tour will include a number of logistical issues to take care of, including:
Access to the destination
Apart from all the operational and logistical challenges, the SIT providers have a number of administrative requirements to deal with. Travel insurance provides the financial protection in the case of unexpected loss of luggage or cancellation of the trip. It is important to read and understand all the policies before making a purchase. Visas issues may vary according to the country tourists going to. For example, members of the family of the EU citizens do not need visa to travel to the EU countries. Vaccination against diseases is an important requirement for tourists travelling to remote destinations, e.g. some parts of Africa.
All the tour operators and travel agents should be aware of the laws concerning travel and tourism and pass the relevant information to the tourists.
One of the main points to be considered for all the businesses is to have satisfied customers. It will results in more profitability, less marketing cost and a good reputation for the company.
4.2. Discuss the ways operators resolve issues that affect special interest tourism.
There are many issues that can affect special interest tourism, some of them are known in advance and others are unexpected. It is always better to identify the potential problem and create the awareness of possible outcome.
The main categories of the possible issues in SIT are:
Economic issues (recession, oversupply)
Risk management is an important part of planning for businesses. The process of risk management is designed to reduce or eliminate the risk of certain kinds of events happening or having an impact on the business. ( http://www.whatisriskmanagement.net/)
There are many different types of risk that can be classified as follows:
Health- unexpected accidents, food poisoning
Travel- delays of the flight, flight cancellation due to natural disaster
Theft- loss of personal documents, etc.
Furthermore, risk can be classified as known risks (tourists are travelling to politically unstable areas) and unexpected risks (loss of documents, illness).
The main goal of risk management is to protect the customers from unacceptable levels of risk and also build the reputation for travel organisations, avoiding financial losses.
According to Sadgrove (2005), the process of risk management is as follows:
Identify and assess risks
Implement policies; manage risks
Tourism providers should always advise customers on risks by giving advice how to behave in unfamiliar situations or providing the current information about the risks that might be present in the resort.
Socio-cultural issues can result in social breakdown of the destination, increase in crime and loss of local culture.
The ecotourism is becoming very popular nowadays. Tour operators and travel agents have to be aware of the environmental issues relating to products they offer. Some of the issues are: ecotourism and sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism provides information how to respect local cultures and the natural environment and protect the diverse wildlife of the destination.
The need to provide the best quality and to keep the standards high is one of the main issues of SIT providers. The best quality could be achieved by:
Providing the full training for the staff
Good knowledge about the products being sold
Right people on the right job
Requesting feedback from customers
There is no doubt that tourism had been the most important industry of any country that is why most of them are doing their best in order to maintain and preserve all of their resources that can attract the attention of their target tourist.