Specialist tourism covers many different types of tourism, for example:
1. Sports tourism – e.g. travelling to the Algarve to play golf;
2. Adventure tourism – e.g. bungee jumping in South Africa;
3. Health tourism – e.g. staying at a spa hotel in Austria;
4. Nature and wildlife tourism – e.g. whale watching in the Antarctic;
5. Ecotourism – e.g. volunteering on a coral reef project in Belize;
6. Special interest tourism – e.g. a landscape painting holiday in Suffolk;
7. Educational tourism – e.g. students on a study visit to Barcelona;
8. Cultural tourism – e.g. visiting a cathedral;
9. Disaster tourism – e.g. visiting the site of the 9/11 tragedy in New York;
10. Rural tourism – e.g. staying on a farm in Devon;
11. Food tourism – e.g. visiting the Ludlow Food Festival.
Specialist tourism providers
The UK tour operating business has come a long way in the last 50 years, from offering just Mediterranean package holidays to the vast array of specialist holidays right across the world available today. New companies have entered the market to develop specialist products, while the long-established, mass-market tour operators have hanged their holiday products to reflect the growing demand for special interests. It is not uncommon for mass-market tour operators such as
Thomson Holidays and Thomas Cook to offer holidays that include cultural visits, activity tourism, wildlife tourism and other special interests, alongside their more traditional ‘sun, sand and sea’ package holidays.
Large, integrated tour operators often buy up smaller, independent businesses to increase their share of the holiday market. Most specialist tour operators are, however, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), employing relatively small numbers of people. Many specialist tour operators are members of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO), a trade