Tourism II Special Interest Tourism

Study tourism for special target markets. Learn about business tourism, tourism for the elderly, cultural and arts tourism, food and wine tourism, and more.

Course CodeBTR204
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Study at Home: Learn about special interest tourism. This course builds an understanding of opportunities in such things as business tourism, festival tourism, cultural tourism, environmental tourism, senior tourism, food and wine tourism and much more.

Travel to natural attractions has a very long history, and has probably occurred since humans first developed a sense of aesthetics, may even earlier. Travel to these destinations was often arduous, and required determination, courage, a level of fitness, and sufficient wealth to allow the traveller to purchase food, labour, accommodation, transport and other materials for long periods. Today’s traveller, on the other hand, can reach most destinations easily and quickly, and services and facilities are usually readily available at the site or nearby, and he or she need not be fit or wealthy.

With travel to natural sites easier than ever, and travel more generally affordable, the main concern in developing and maintaining natural sites is manage tourism in order to avoid damage to very attraction that draws people there. This issue is discussed further in the lesson on environmental tourism, but it is a significant issue for all kinds of tourism that attracts travellers to places where they can enjoy the sights, smells, sounds and delights of nature.

Student Comment (M. Soares, Angola):
"This has given me insights into world wide tourism, and it helps me to understand how we can develop our tourism without too much damage"

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Sectors of the Tourism Industry
    • Scope of the travel product (natural & cultural, events & sites)
  2. Types of Tourism
    • Regional
    • Rural
    • Urban.
  3. Accommodation Types
    • Resorts and Hotels
    • Camping
    • Back packers
    • Cruise
    • Special interest accomodation
  4. Cultural Tourism
    • Museums
    • Art galleries
    • Theatre
    • Indigenous tourism
    • Historic parks
    • Cultural vs Heritage tourism
    • Religious Tourism
  5. Events & Festivals
    • Concerts
    • Exhibitions
    • Performances
    • Seminars
  6. Environmental Tourism
    • Natural Attractions
    • Nature Based Tourism
    • Definitions
    • Wildlife Tourism
    • Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism
  7. 7. Health & Adventure Tourism
    • Health Tourism
    • Adventure Tourism
    • Walking Tours
    • Cycle Tours
    • Soft vs Hard Adventure Tourism
    • Rock Climbing
    • Space Tourism
  8. More Special Interest Tourism
    • Food & Wine Tourism
    • Senior Tourism
    • Sex Tourism
  9. Visitor Management & Contingency Planning
    • Effects of Tourism on the Host Community
    • Managing Visitors
    • Planning for Contingencies
    • Common Problems with Visitor Services
    • Risk management (safety, financial, etc)
  10. Packaging a Tour
    • Planning the Itinerary;
    • Costing
    • Presenting the Package
    • Reviewing the Package

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • To analyse tourism industry, to determine the various sectors which service tourism and travel.
  • To differentiate between different types of tourism on a variety of bases, including: demographics, geography, economics, and culture.
  • To compare a variety of different accommodation services provided in the tourism industry.
  • To describe the operation of heritage and cultural tourism, including: historical, architectural, indigenous, and artistic attractions.
  • Evaluate the tourism potential of events and festivals.
  • To describe the management of passive natural tourist attractions, including wilderness areas, beaches, rivers, wildlife etc.
  • To describe the operation of different types of tourism facilities that have a significant focus on health and fitness, including Health Resorts, Walking Tours and Cycling.
  • To describe a variety of other types of special interest tourism, including food tourism, senior tourism and sex tourism.
  • To plan and manage the number of visitors to different types of tourism facilities and develop appropriate contingency plans.
  • To plan a package holiday incorporating a variety of accommodation and attraction options.

What You Will Do

  • Visit travel agencies or information centres
  • Search the internet
  • Write to a government travel authority/department
  • Visit a local or regional tourist centre
  • Study travel pages in a newspaper for both articles and advertisements
  • Visit a library, bookshop or news stand and look at travel magazines
  • Conduct interviews or surveys
  • Attend events

What is Special interest tourism (SIT)?

This 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:
  1. Rewarding
  2. Enriching
  3. Adventuresome Experiences
  4. Learning Experiences.
The clients engaged with SIT are seeking to learn more, enrich their awareness, and express themselves. They expect high standards of service and individualized focus. Many wish to travel in an environmentally sound manner and to have authentic experiences be they: cultural, social or environmental, in which they have a positive engagement with the host community.

The range of special interest tours is enormous. It may range from a women’s only trek down the Larapinta Track in outback Australia to a bike tour of one of France's wine growing regions where it is possible to meet those responsible for the production of the wine being sampled, or from gay-only resorts to whale watching in Antarctica.

How is Special Interest Tourism Different?

Special interest tourism differs from other types of tourism in the following ways:
  • It is less standardised
  • It is more flexible
  • It provides more personalised service
  • Businesses and service providers are often small scale
  • It often has a strong interpretive (educational, informative) element
  • It often provides opportunities for strong client participation
  • It often invests in distinctive products and services
  • It is seen to be a more sustainable form of tourism.

Is there anything Wrong with Special Interest Tourism?
The following arguments are sometimes suggested:
  • SIT can sometimes be a high risk venture
  • Dishonest operators can ‘hijack’ the terms 'alternative' and 'eco' for their own purposes.
  • SIT increases travel costs
  • SIT is unrealistic in expecting the travel industry to be controlled by local communities
  • SIT is elitist
  • It is unrealistic to propose that SIT will negate environmental effects of tourism due to the fact of its projected increases
  • SIT will in fact spread the negative effects of mass market tourism over a larger area.

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