Special interest based tourism (SIT) is the provision of customised tourism activities that caters to the specific interests of groups and individuals. In this case, tourism is undertaken to satisfy a particular interest or need. It has been proposed that SIT consists of four main experiences: … Adventuresome Experiences.
The last fifty odd years have witnessed an enormous growth in tourism. As a consequence of a peculiar confluence of economic, social and technological forces coupled with significant demographic changes, conditions have been created that enable people to travel. This has also resulted in a search for newer avenues of tourism that are likely to attract and add to the existing tourism activity. The SIT owes its origin to this new situation as it tends to generate and cater to the tourist traffic that looks for avenues other than the usual which are likely to give a completely new experience to the tourist.
The principal objective in understanding a market is to assess the potential of developing a product that satisfies customers’ needs. Therefore, identifying the market segment for SIT and examining realistically the market requirement vis-à-vis SIT is the first step in developing and designing SIT as a tourism product. In the case of every country there are a few sectors of tourism where the possibilities of developing SIT are greater as compared to other sectors. We can call them as Favoured Sectors. The advantage enjoyed by them is in terms of location, accessibility, and the image. Growth of facilities and services is an area that is contingent to several other factors as well as the initiatives taken by individual or group entrepreneurs. Thus, understanding market is – understanding and realistically analysing the favoured sectors. The favoured sectors where the possibilities and potential of the market can be defined clearly are: • ethnic and rural tourism • adventure tourism • health tourism • nature based tourism, and • religious tourism Each one of the above category shall be discussed in greater detail in the subsequent Units in this course. We intend to treat them as constituting one single area of attention viz. SIT, and discuss the general features of the tourism market available to them collectively. Let us take the case of India. Interest in India’s ethnic and religious diversity has always been a favourite subject with both academicians and tourism professionals. It is also important to note that nearly 70% of Indian population is rural centred where ethnic diversity is most easily manifest. The towns/urban areas reflect an 57 undercurrent of a homogenising process as a consequence of which the habitation patterns mostly erase ethnic features. Clearly then the market for ethnic tourism is predominantly rural. Hence, developing SIT and showcasing the experience of ethnic diversity shall have to contend with rural areas. The three major components of market that will deserve a careful analysis and assessment, in this case will be image and accessibility options, safety and security options, and the quality of the product and service. Accounting for the above ethnic tourism as a well defined feature of SIT would exhibit a few preferences. Accessibility alone rules out regions which are poorly connected by rail and road routes, that is areas which have a decent network of rail and road connections get precedence. Incidentally safety and security considerations seem to coincide with accessibility features. The last parameter i.e. the quality of the product and service is the one where the difference would be in reality and an enterprise offering quality at this stage would beat the others. Health tourism is an upcoming area in SIT and there already is a lot of interest and publicity about it. Kerala Ayur Vedic therapies are gaining eminence. But in this case the already developed tourism infrastructure of the state is proving to be a greater boon. Therefore anyone venturing into this area shall have to contend with stiff competition and shall have to offer novelty of experiences as an attractor. The North-Eastern region is replete with herbal medicinal practices. Developing SIT in health tourism there is therefore a greater probability. In addition to the health care systems as the above two, India also has tremendous potential in the hospital services and health-care systems at competitively economical rates. This is one area that may attract the attention of tourism promoter sooner than later. The corporate ventures in this area have already begun to take shape and smaller entrepreneurs may simultaneously focus on middle-sized towns as well as domestic tourists. Markets for adventure and nature based tourism have been defined comprehensively. These two areas of SIT shall receive a detailed treatment in the units to follow the present one which you may read with care.