One of the segments with greater growth is no doubt the Special interest travel. Since traveling has become more accessible to most layers of the society, and there is plenty of information available about all types of resources worldwide, passion and mission driven people like to meet other like-minded individuals to share their passion with, to discover new resources related to their hobby or passion, or to expand internationally the impact of the mission they work for. It would be possible to draft an almost endless list of special interest tourism products, but hereby we list just a few to illustrate the concept. These are also usually classified in market niches, like the following:
Wildlife tourism niche. From volunteering to just observation and education, wildlife is a very rich source of memorable experiences and emotions. There are many volunteering programs to help in the protection of endangered species in countries especially rich in biodiversity like Madagascar, Galapagos (Ecuador) or Costa Rica. But you can also volunteer in the Panda Protection Center in Chengdu (China), to help the Panda bears’ carers in the maintenance of the bears’ spaces, prepare their food or collaborate with the veterinaries. Another special case is the Gorilla and Chimpanze protection programs in African countries like Cameroon, Guinea, Kenya, Uganda or Sierra Leone, where there are many centers rescuing these primates to take care of them and foster reproduction. The Jane Goodall Institute is one of the best centers, where they look for professional volunteers to work for long periods of time.
In case you only wish to observe and learn, the options are much varied. From birdwatching in some of the best marshland parks or in times of migration, to a photography safari to learn both about the animals’ life and the art of photography, there is a vast offer available in almost all continents. In this section there could be also included the Diving tourism niche, so long as one of its main attractions is to enjoy the submarine wildlife.
Archeology tourism niche. Films like Indiana Jones have aroused interest and passion for archeology, giving it a sense of fascinating adventure. This has resulted in the development of a considerable offer of tourism products related to it. Visiting historic sites guided by an archeologist and/or a historian making you envision the world in which these buildings and monuments were created is somehow like a trip to the old civilizations. Some of the top destinations in this niche market are Egypt, Mexico –both Maya and Azteca civilizations-, Peru –Inca civilization-, Israel, Greece, Italy, Iran, etc.
Music tourism niche. Beyond traveling to attend a concert or a festival, there are many other possible music motivated holiday programs. There are guided tours visiting the houses of famous musicians, others visiting the backstage of famous venues such as La Scala in Milan, and others visiting museums related to music. Italy, Austria and Germany are the top destinations for this niche market, as they were the nations where most classical musicians were born.
Women issues niche. The agency Focus on women organizes tours to learn about the role of different types of women in all types of societies. This concept encompasses tours to talk with Geishas or Sumo fighters in Japan, meeting with women in the Chii society of Iran who strive to develop themselves despite suffering from serious gender discrimination, talking to women who work to prevent arranged marriages among minor girls in Ethiopia, or talking to women from the Hmong group in Vietnam who open trails in the Sapa valleys in the north of the country.
These four are just a short glimpse of the enormous variety of holiday programs dedicated to special interests related to activity holidays, culture and well-being.
Which are the most original special interest tours you have ever known of?