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Special Interest Tourism

By MeLoDijoPerez Apr 25, 2013 1019 Words
Assessment 1: Explore the significance of special interest tourism as part of the tourism product of a destination of your choice. According to Read (1980), in Hall and Weiler (1992), the conceptualization of the term ‘Special Interest Tourism’ (SIT) emerged during the 1980s and can be seen as the predecessor of ‘Niche Tourism’. Early discussion of SIT set the context for the development of niche tourism markets, and was seen to be a prime force associated with the expansion of tourism and the motivation around which tourist activity was planned and advanced. It marked the move from tourism as a commodified, mainstream offering to one that was more specialized and unique. Initially SIT products were seen to focus on relatively homogeneous groups of consumers such as eco or cultural tourists and were compared to Stebbins’ (1982) specialized, serious leisure consumers. However, what began to emerge in academic debate was that there existed another softer end of the spectrum often linked to individual operators’ expertise within that special interest field and desire to tap the latent consumer demand for that niche market. This ‘casual’ end of the spectrum Stebbins (1982) points out as still being in the majority and is seen as pursuing a ‘relatively short-lived pleasurable activity requiring little or no special training to enjoy it’ (Stebbins, 1982, in Bartram, 2001, p.5).Trauer (2006) observes how the growth of the SIT sector is said to reflect the diversity of interests of contemporary society –increasing concerns for the conservation of the environment; the desire for self-improvement; personal fulfillment and new experiences and the thirst for knowledge. The significance of the market is illustrated by the fact that ‘a remarkable 81% of US adults who travelled in the past year or 118 million are considered historic/cultural travelers’ (Keefe, 2002, in McKercher and Chan, 2005, p.1). Furthermore SIT tourists are seen to be higher yield than other tourists staying longer, spending more and participating in more activities. Morgan and Pritchard (1999) highlight how SIT serves to indicate qualitative differences from those of mass tourism, promoting tourism that is more socially responsible and community focused. Difficulties arise in academic debate when trying to define SIT. Hall and Weiler in their original work propose SIT to occur when ‘travelers’ motivation and decision-making are primarily determined by a particular special interest,’ (Hall and Weiler, 1992, p.5). Further definitions (Swarbrooke and Horner, 1999; Derrett, 2001) expand this to characterize SIT as: * Motivated by a desire to engage in new or existing interests in a novel or familiar location; * The opposite of mass tourism;

* Tourism undertaken for a specific or distinct reason; and * Having emerged because of the desire to deliver a more sustainable tourism product. Douglas et al. (2001) expand this debate to define the characteristics of SIT as ‘flexible delivery, market segmentation and advances in technology affecting management and distribution’. Similarly, when settings SIT in a broader tourism framework Brotherton and Himmetoglu’s (1997) work proposes a ‘Tourism Interest Continuum’. This emerges through increased travel experience, resulting in a maturity of the tourist life cycle from safe to more experimental and adventurous forms of tourism activity, enabling the tourist to seek self-prestige and self enhancement. Their work sought to refine SIT theory from the global/macro to the local/micro also focusing on levels of involvement. This motivational approach is also apparent in the various typologies that have emerged from other SIT studies. Trauer (2006) also raises an interesting area for discussion, examining how various special interest segments (e.g., sport, rural, event and adventure) can merge with other SIT categories. For example, although sport, rural, event and adventure tourism can be seen to be distinctive segments, a challenging mountain bike championship held in a mountainous region can be seen to cross all four SIT segments. There is little published work that realizes that the individual segments are not mutually exclusive and often there is an overlap (Hall, 2003). McKercher and Chan (2005) challenge previous research asking the question ‘How important is SIT?’ They argue that tourists participate in a wide variety of activities at a destination which are often secondary to their reason for travel. For example, tourists who visit a museum as part of their tourism experience are not necessarily cultural tourists. Their visit could be only to the museum shop and/or cafe or as part of a wider tour of the destination. They argue that the interest shown in SIT rarely translates into strong commercial opportunities, and often activities are periphery to the destination. Further research is needed to confirm their assumptions. However, what is apparent is that research into SIT has set the context for discussing niche tourism products that are part of a wider, multi product offering at the destination. For single product destinations this can be seen as a core activity and for a smaller, focused group forms the special interest and sole motivation to visit the destination. As basic conclusion, in my point of view. I think the issue of explore the significance of special interest tourism as part of the tourism product of a destination of your choice is very interesting, as you can see I have been reading articles on the history and the different ideas on the subject. I have basically the conclusion that the special interest tourism is predecessor of niche tourism. References:

* Brotherton, B., and Himmetoglu, B., (1997). Beyond destinations: Special interest tourism. Anatolia: An International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research, 8(3), pp. 11-30. * Derrett, R., (2001). Special interest tourism: Starting with the individual. In: Douglas, N., Douglas, N., and Derret, R. (Eds.). (2001) Special Interest Tourism.Brisbane: Wiley, pp.1-28. * Keefe, C., (2002). Travelers Who Love History and Culture Spend More and Stay Longer than Average Tourists. * McKercher, B., and Chan, A., (2005). How special is special interest tourism? Journal of Travel Research, 44(1), pp. 21-31. * Trauer, B., (2006). Conceptualizing special interest tourism - frameworks for analysis. Tourism Management, 27(2), pp. 183-200

Alberto Pérez López, Erasmus Student. S1209991// Thank you very much for pay me attention.

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