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20 Niche Tourism Groups

If you thought that Niche Tourism covers just a hand-full of interest groups, think again. In the 5th edition of his book ‘Marketing Tourism in South Africa’, Richard George identifies 20 distinct Special Interest tourism groups.

Special interest tourism (SIT) to South Africa has increased rapidly in the last few years. Special interest tourists are motivated by the desire to go on holiday and take part in a current interest or develop a new interest in a new or familiar location. Special interest tourism is a niche market, similar to adventure tourism, but it differs in that it involves little or no physical exertion. The special interest may be a one-off interest (for example, going on a safari, white-water-rafting or shark-cage-diving) or an ongoing interest (for example, spiritual tourism). Some of the most popular special interest tourism products include the following:

1. Agri-tourism (also known as agro-tourism or farm-based tourism): This involves activities such as fruit-picking. Tourists may go on tours of working farms or on established tourist routes such as brandy or wine routes. They may visit factories that process farm produce (for example, jam) and may stay overnight in farmhouse B&Bs.

2. Ancestry tourism: Tourists travel to destinations with the aim of learning more about and possibly tracing their ancestors.

3. Architourism (or architectural tourism): Tourists are attracted by the design and buildings of a destination.

4. Avitourism (or birding tourism): Birdwatching is a popular hobby all over the world. Southern Africa is one of the richest birding regions, with a network of birding routes. BirdLife South Africa, a membership-based non-profit organisation, represents the birding tourism sector in South Africa.

5. Battlefields tourism: Tours to former battlefields have grown in popularity. Popular battlefields sites in South Africa include Islandwana in KwaZula-Natal and the Western Front (Normandy, the Somme) in Europe.

6. Eco-tourism (or wildlife tourism): Tourists view the flora or the game of an area. This includes whale-watching. Read more on the subject of Ecotourism – Click HERE.

7. Gambling tourism: Tourists visit casino destinations and holiday in gambling cities that have many casinos.

8. Gastronomy tourism (or food tourism): “Foodies” visit a destination in order to experience cuisine and food festivals. Gastronomy tourism is defined as travel that has food as the primary factor of influence in travel behaviour and in the decision-making process.

9. Lighthouse tourism: Tourists visit and sometimes stay in lighthouses that provide accommodation for tourists.

10. Military tourism: Tourists who visit war memorials, battlefields, forts and war museums.

11. Nostalgia tourism: Tourists return to a destination for sentimental reasons. For example, they go back to a destination where they had a memorable childhood holiday, or where they lived or studied in their younger years.

12. Photographic tourism: Tourists visit Africa’s natural and cultural attractions in order to take photographs.

13. Property tourism: Tourists travel to holiday destinations to purchase residential property. The property tourism operator who organises the tour may reimburse all or a portion of the cost of the holiday that was taken in order to view the property if the tourist purchases the property.

14. Rural tourism (or Cultural tourism): This includes homestays so that tourists can experience rural life and food.

15. Safari tourism: Tourists participate in art safaris and rail safaris.

16. Spa tourism: Tourists visit mineral or hot springs. This type of niche tourism is not bound to any season. It is a year-round activity.

17. Wedding tourism: This involves honeymooners and couples wishing to have their wedding ceremonies in Africa. Wedding tourists tend to travel in quite large numbers.
18. Wellness or spiritual tourism: Tourists come to a destination in order to unwind and enjoy reflexology and massages, for example.

19. Wildlife tourism: Tourists participate in activities such as safaris, viewing marine wildlife and photographing wildlife.

20. Wine tourism: Tourists visit wine-growing regions and wine routes, vineyards, wineries (cellar tours and tasting rooms), wine festivals and so on, for the purpose of consuming or purchasing wine. South Africa has excellent wine regions and offers a variety of additional benefits to wine tourists, including natural and cultural visitor attractions. The country’s wine routes are ranked as the fourth most popular visitor attraction for international and domestic tourists. The winelands in the Western Cape, Napa Valley in California, the USA and Adelaide in Australia are examples of world-class wine tourism destinations. Read more on the subject of Wine tourism – Click HERE.

More Specialist Tourism Groups

Here’s 6 more niche tourism groups to add to the above list – Editor.

21. Accessible tourism: Accessible tourism is ‘Tourism For All’. It’s about making travel and hospitality more reachable and pleasurable for travellers with universal access requirements. It’s also about sensitising yourself to the language of disability. Read more on the subject of Accessible tourism – Click HERE.

22. Adventure tourism: Adventure travel is a type of tourism, involving exploration or travel with perceived (and possibly actual) risk, and potentially requiring specialized skills and physical exertion. Adventure tourism is rapidly growing in popularity, as tourists seek different kinds of vacations. Read more on the subject of Adventure tourism – Click HERE.

23. Cruise tourism: Cruise tourism is a great way to expose a country’s beauty and culture and also a nice way to travel the world giving tons of jobs and employment to places that it visits, mostly “ports of call”. Read more on the subject of Cruise tourism – Click HERE.

24. Cultural tourism: This kind of tourism normally occurs in urban areas with particular historical significance or cultural facilities, such as museums and theatres. Cultural tourism also highlights the various traditions of indigenous communities through observing their rituals, customs as well as their values and lifestyle. Tourism therefore serves as the carrier of culture and cultural tourism has become the platform for cultural consumption. Read more on the subject of Cultural tourism – Click HERE.

25. Film Tourism: Film tourism is a growing phenomenon worldwide, motivated by both the growth of the entertainment industry and the increase in international travel. Film induced tourism explores the effects that film and TV-productions have on the travel decisions made when potential tourists plan their upcoming holiday or visit to a destination. Read more on the subject of Film tourism – Click HERE and HERE.

26. Red-tape tourism: OK, this one is more tongue-in-cheek! Could Home Affairs offices, licencing departments and similar facilities in South Africa’s small towns compete on service delivery to create a new domestic tourism niche? asks Ivo Vegter. To read this article Click HERE.

If you have any other niche tourism groups to add to the list just COMMENT below.

About the Author:

Richard George is an Assocociate Professor and Research Director at the School of Management, University of Cape Town. For more information Telephone: +27 (0)21 650 4245 or Email or visit the Book Website at: or



  1. Love Akosua Kpedekpo

    Help Our Village Foundation is a rural Eco Tourism Destination. A non-profit and non-governmental organization, was created in 1992 as a community based project under the visionary leadership of the Queen of Adaklu Mamaga Afedima II. It aims at promoting Adaklu community, Brown cotton production in Adaklu and the Adaklu Mountain as an Eco-Tourism Destination. As a source of knowledge, Providing Educational and cross cultural programs and services to the youth, volunteers, students, educators and institutions.

    Our Vision
    Every person feeling connected to and participating in community building through tourism to help reduce poverty among the women of Adaklu

    Our Mission
    Our Mission is to promote the value of volunteering and increase the range and quality of volunteering as a tool for community building
    Our website address is

    Please contact the following,they have been petronising our programs “Kevin Porter , Country Director Rustic Pathways ,USA, “Laura Doak” Mount Temple Comprehensive School Ireland,Miss Chrissa Percival”Chrissa Percival” , Peace Corp Volunteer 2010 – 2012.

    Looking forward to hear from you

    Love Akosua Kpedekpo

    Help Our Village Foundation

  2. Our blog is a travel, hospitality and tourism site with a speck of news, features and review graphics.

  3. Ok, so… Battlefield Tourism is a subtype of Dark Tourism, which is “per se” a special interest tourism / niche.

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