The main objectives of the essay are to define niche tourism, determine the major characteristics of niche tourism and how it differs from mass tourism.
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Moreover, the factors that have led to a rapid increase in the number of people participating in these forms of tourism, along with the different types of products available in niche tourism shall be explored.
The future of niche tourism and its implications for private operators and destination managers have also been discussed.
Niche tourism could be defined as special interest tourism that has been customised to meet the specific requirements of a particular market segment.
Ali-Knight (24) adds that niche tourism is often carried out in a more authentic setting in order to meet the expectations of a smaller number of tourists.
Moreover, niche tourism has its origin in special interest tourism (SIT) which is characterised by flexible delivery and particular market segmentation.
The major characteristics of niche tourism borrows heavily from SIT and include customer tailored products, flexible delivery, are more specialized, and target a specific market segment (Kaufmann 1; Ali-Knight 24).
On the other hand, mass tourism is one of the oldest forms of tourism which is a large scale form of tourism. Examples of mass tourism include pilgrimage, wildlife watching, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and downhill telemarking as explained by Robison, Heitman and Dieke (6).
From the discussion, the differences between niche and mass tourism can be explored in the context of quality, number of people involved, market segment, and quality. For example mass tourism is more quantity- based while niche tourism is quality-based (Christou 2).
While niche tourism is flexible and provides special and customized products to a small group of persons, mass tourism provides fixed programs to a large group of people/ tourists.
The major products of niche tourism are wine, events and festivals, golf, film, heritage and genealogy, (Ali-Knight 40). Other products as provided by Robinson, Heitmann, and Dieke (9) include music, dance, sports, and other specific physical activities.
Change in demand on tourism products, globalisation, availability of information, and increase in expectations of tourists have led to the rapid change from mass tourism to niche tourism.
According to Robinson (9), these changes have resulted to a rapid increase in the numbers of people participating in these forms of tourism.
Ali-Knight (24; 32) adds that the concept of niche marketing, global economic restructuring, emergence of a sophisticated, experienced consumer, alternative delivery, and flexibility are other factors which have encouraged the growth of niche tourism.
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From a personal perspective, niche forms of tourism will continue to grow in the future and replace mass tourism. This is because advancement in technology and continued changes in global economy will make the consumer more sophisticated and experienced.
In return, the consumer demand for differentiated tourism products and flexible delivery will increase as noted by Ali-Knight (33).
Moreover, we are living in a society that becoming increasingly more individualised, which means that niche tourism will continue to gain popularity as it provides modified products to small family or friends/ groups (Robinson et al. 9).
The growth of niche tourism is bound to have implications for the private operators and destination managers in their efforts to capture and manage the impact of the specialised markets.
For example, they will be required to shift from standardised and fixed service delivery to flexible delivery which may require extra funding.
Lew (412) opines that as the growth increases, providers will be required to provide more choices, enhance predictability, and efficiency, and quality service required by consumers.
Ali-Knight, Jane 2011, The Role of Niche Tourism Products in Destination Development. PDF file. Web.
Christou, Loizos. “Is it Possible to Combine Mass Tourism with Alternative Forms of Tourism: The Case of Spain, Greece, Slovenia and Croatia.” Journal of Business Administration Online, (2012): 1-10. Print.
Kaufmann, Hans Ruediger. Niche Tourism: Developing a Brand for the Irpinia Region. The University of Nicosia, 2012. Print.
Lew, Allan. “Long Tail Tourism: New Geographies for Marketing Niche Tourism Products.” Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 25.3–4 (2008): 409-419. Print.
Robinson, Peter, Sine, Heitmann and Peter Dieke. Research Themes for Tourism. London: UK, CAB International, 2011. Print.