Niche tourism is a form of tourism that caters for the needs of small numbers of tourists. There are many forms of niche tourism, which include Adventure tourism, Ecotourism, Heritage tourism, Movie tourism, Agro tourism, Medical tourism, Silver (grey) tourism, and Dark tourism.
Niche tourism strategies
This is a type of niche tourism whereby the tourists travel to remote areas or physically challenging environments that are sometimes dangerous to the tourists. This may include:
- Travels to Mt Everest, Nepal. Embarking on a trip to this summit cost about $50,000.
- Visit to Antarctica
- Sahara Tour
- Mariana Trench
Adventure tourism can either be expensive and cost as much as $50,000 to Mount Everest or it can be as cheap as $3000 to places such as Machu Picchu. It is a form of tourism that benefits the local community and also gives the tourist the opportunity to discover aspects of nature that are less known.
Besides, adventure tourism also protects the natural environment in a sustainable way because most of the tourists are well educated and, according to the world tourism organization, over half of the adventure tourists are women.
Extreme environment tourism
This involves dangerous landscapes often with a difficult climate, and remote places that are sparsely settled or not occupied at all. Characteristics of extreme tourists are that they are without children, have high-paid jobs/good income earners etc.
Movie location tourism
This is a form of tourism that takes place in areas where popular movies have been shot
- Lord of the Rings acted in New Zealand
- Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland
- The Hobbit in New Zealand
- Theme parks such as Disneyland have created a setting that looks like the movie to attract viewers
It refers to travel to experience the place, artefacts, historic sites or indigenous people. It is sometimes referred to as historical tourism.
Advantages of Niche tourism:
- It is environmentally friendly, as it causes less pollution due to the limited number of people involved
- It benefits the local population
- Tourists are able to maximize the benefits of their tourist experience
- It can be dangerous because it sometimes involves extreme and risky activities
- It can be expensive
- They are more like to be exposed to various attacks by criminals
The opposite of niche tourism is mass tourism. Mass tourism caters for the needs of a large number of people. This includes packaged tours and itineraries.
- Travel in large groups thus it is safer.
- It is cheaper because the cost is shared among everyone.
- It boosts socialization because the tourists travel with people they are familiar with
- It is well organised.
- It is expensive in the long term because some travel and tourism agencies take advantage of the tourists.
- Tourists are sometimes forced to visit places they might not want to visit.
- It may lead to environmental degradation: noise pollution, water pollution, air pollution etc
- Mass tourism may sometimes lead to terrorist attacks.
The role of TNCs in expanding international tourism
A TNC is a company that has branches in many parts of the world but has its headquarters in a developed country. In many developing countries, tourism is used as a national strategy to promote development. Examples of these countries include Kenya, Ghana, Thailand and the Maldives. These countries, however, do not have the necessary financial resources to invest in the infrastructure needed to boost tourism or attract tourism.
Infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, hotel and internet services would be needed to open up these tourist destinations. Consequently, some TNCs have decided to invest in the tourism industry in most of these countries. These TNCs offer some advantages and disadvantages to these countries.
Benefits of TNCs to the economy of developing countries
- Offer employment opportunities e.g as tour guides, drivers etc
- Increase in government revenue through the payment of company taxes
- Increase in foreign direct investment
- It helps to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserve, thus helping to stabilize the country’s currency against international currencies.
- TNCs help to advertise a country’s tourist potential.
- TNCs help to develop the skills of the local people through skills training
Disadvantages of TNCs to the economy of developing countries
- Not everyone can afford the cost of services or goods provided by TNCs.
- TNCs increase the cost of living in developing countries
- Land prices become expensive due to the high demand for prime lands by TNCs.
- The activities of TNCs may lead to environmental pollution – Noise pollution, visual pollution, water pollution
- They usually repatriate their profits.
- The local people sometimes work under very poor working conditions.
- Sometimes they disrespect the culture of the local people.
Generally, TNCs play a crucial role in the development of tourism in two main ways:
In terms of primary tourist resources, TNCs may invest in tourist attractions such as Disneyland in Maryland, the USA, Canada, and France.
In terms of secondary tourist resources, TNCs may invest in airlines (eg Emirates, Easy jet, Virgin Atlantic, Monarch, etc) or invest in the food industry (such as McDonald’s, KFC,) or hotel industry (such as Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn).
Question: In what ways can TNCs expand tourism potential in developing countries?
Stakeholders in the tourism industry
Stakeholders are people with an interest in something. In the case of tourism, the major stakeholders are the beneficiaries or the people who are directly affected by the tourist industry. A number of them are listed below:
Advantages/disadvantages of TNCs:
- TNCs help to make tourist destinations accessible to tourists by investing in the tourist sites
- TNCs can invest in infrastructure to attract tourists
- The presence TNCs attracts tourists from home countries and elsewhere.
- Greater variety of goods and services at their disposal
- There is an increase in the number of jobs available.
- TNCs compete with local companies and may put them out of business or cause them to improve their products or services
- More job opportunities.
- TNCs provide other perks like subsidized healthcare, holidays etc.
- In LICs, TNCs may provide training services for employees.
- The working conditions may not be favourable
- Local employees do not usually get high-paying jobs.
- The use of technology may render some employees redundant
- The government gets more revenue from taxes.
- It would reduce the cost of unemployment benefits given by the government to its citizens.
- TNCs take the profit back to their home country.
- Large TNCs can control the government in LICs
- TNCs create competition in a country in a country, which leads to an improvement in the quality of goods or services provided.
- TNCs may advertise the industry for the goods or services they provide which leads to an increase in the demand for such goods or services.
- TNCs may take competitors out of business.
Costs and benefits of tourism as a national development strategy
Tourism has long been used as a development strategy in many LICs, especially small island developing states (SIDs). Examples of such countries include Tunisia, Papua New Guinea, The Maldives, Vietnam, Nepal, Sao Tome, Mauritius, and Cyprus. Even though tourism provides benefits to these countries, there is no doubt that there are associated costs involved in using tourism as a strategy.
Economic benefits of tourism to SIDS
- Increases the GDP of a country directly and indirectly through the ‘multiplier’ effect. Multiplier effect: this means that the revenue obtained from the tourism industry could benefit other industries which could yield further income in other industries.
- Taxes increase government revenue. Government obtains tax from the tourists which can be used to invest in other projects in the country such as schools.
- Increase the foreign exchange earnings of a country. This can help to stabilize the country’s currency. Can be used to import technology and machinery, and invest in other industries through foreign direct investment.
- Creates employment for the local people.
- This may divert government attention from needy areas of the economy. Such as education and health.
- Requires government expenditure on tourism: The government would have to spend a lot of money providing good roads etc.
- Profits may go overseas – In the form of ‘leakage’. Leakage: when the profit is taken outside the country.
- Spread effect is limited and may therefore cause regional inequalities. It may only bring about regional development and not national development.
- Inflates prices for land, housing, food and clothing.
- May enhance the role and status of women in society. How foreigners behave with their wives would usually influence how people in, for instance, LICs would treat their wives.
- Encourages female education.
- Saves the indigenous culture of the people due to tourist interest in them.
- Increases international understanding of diverse cultures.
- Culture exchanges stimulate broadening horizons.
- The breakdown of traditional family values creates a materialistic society.
- Social pathology, including an increase in prostitution, drug use and petty crime.
- Mass tourism may lead to resentment from the host population
- Westernization of culture may lead to the depletion of the cultural heritage of the local people.
- Improvement in landscape and architectural standards
- The establishment of nature reserves and national parks protects the environment.
- Promotes interest in monuments and historic sites which encourages preservation and maintenance of the sites.
- Tourist complexes do not reflect local architecture
- The natural environment and wildlife habitat could be destroyed to allow for the development of secondary tourist facilities such as hotels, nightclubs etc.
- Excessive pressure leads to air, noise and visual pollution
- Traffic congestion and pollution
Case study of tourism as a development strategy in SIDs
- Kenya National Tourism
- Medical Tourism in Tunisia
- Tourism in the Maldives (Click here to download the presentation)
Case Study: Medical Tourism in Tunisia
Medical tourism is travel for the purpose of receiving medical treatment or improving health or fitness. Synonym: health tourism
Nature Of tourism in Tunisia:
The development of tourism in Tunisia goes back to the date 1960. As of 2000, there were about 197,400 hotel beds in 95,977 rooms with an occupancy rate of 56%. In addition, Tunisia decided to focus on health tourism because the country slumped into the stagnation stage (Butler’s model of tourism development) when other North African countries began to blossom on the tourism scene with beach tourism.
Tourism strategies employed:
- The Tunisian government capitalized on their natural resources by providing therapy services in spas
- Many more secondary tourist resources were built for medical health care by opening many more public hospitals and clinics.
- The government strengthened the country’s currency through foreign exchange obtained from the tourism sector
- The government took advantage of the opening of more secondary tourist resources to provide jobs for the public (up to 17% of the workforce).
- The Ministry of Tourism promoted tourism by taking care of the costs of the tourists, like accommodation in five-star hotels and plane tickets.
The most lucrative holiday business (tour operators) in Tunisia belongs to European top TNCs like Thomas Cook and Thomson/TUI, hence the insurance paid by the European tourists is repatriated back to their home countries of the tourists.
The success of tourism strategies:
- The Tunisian government reported that between the years 2005 to 2008 there was an increase in the number of tourists by 671,200.
- In May 2009 the government declared the opening of the world’s third-largest spa resort.
- The creation of the Enfidha airport in 2009, which can handle up to four million passengers annually, contributed to the development of the country’s infrastructure.
Challenges facing the tourism industry in Tunisia
In 2015, a gunman attacked a beach resort in Tunisia, killing several people and injuring many others. Most of these were British tourists who visited for medical treatment. Consequently, the number of tourists declined in the subsequent years until recently, when the government introduced tight security in all tourist destinations in the country to boost the confidence of tourists to return to Tunisia for their summer vacation.
Question: To what extent can tourism be used as a development strategy in a small island developing state?
Political, economic and cultural factors affecting the hosting of international sporting events
An international sporting event is a sporting event that involves a large number of countries. Even though regional or continental sporting events are considered international tournaments, in the context of this topic international sporting events are those represented by countries from different continents. Examples of such events include London Olympic Games 2012, Beijing Olympic Games 2008, Brazil World Cup 2014 and Russia 2018.
Note that the world cup is named after a country whilst the Olympic Games is named after a city.
Certain factors must be considered before a country can host an international sporting event. These include:
- The level of peace and stability in the country: If the country is politically stable, it is more likely to host international sporting events. Chances of terrorism might also be reduced.
- Political isolation can affect a country’s opportunity of hosting an international sporting event. Countries like Cuba, North Korea and Iran may have a lesser chance of hosting an international sporting event because they have been isolated by the western countries and their allies due to some political factors.
- The membership of a country to international organizations: Member to the Commonwealth of Nations, Fifa etc is necessary for a country to be considered as a host nation for international sporting events associated with these bodies.
- The level of economic development in the country can affect its hosting of international sporting events. This is because hosting an international sporting event involves a lot of expenditure on infrastructural facilities. Thus poor countries hardly host international games.
- The number of cities in the country. A country must have a certain minimum amount of cities to be able to host games. This is because the matches must be played in various cities. If the country has a limited number of cities then they would combine two countries. For instance, when Ghana and Nigeria combined to host AFCON. Many cities are also needed because many people are needed to come and watch the games.
- The financial benefits that accrue to the country hosting an international event would be an important factor to consider. This is because international sporting events usually involve a large number of visitors who are prepared to spend on various services in the country. This includes hotels etc. Thus the country would host such an event in order to attract tourists and improve their local businesses. The amount of foreign exchange that the country would benefit from is a factor to consider. This would improve the GDP and stabilise the country’s currency.
- Whether the country has a history of actively participating in that sporting event and succeeding in it. If the country doesn’t like that sport, they would not host it. For instance, Ghana would never host a cricket game.
- The level of interest of the people in the sporting event. If the people like watching it or participating in it then the people would vote for it to host it.
Case study: The Costs and Benefits of hosting an International Sporting Event – Beijing Olympics 2008
Evaluate the role of tourism as a development strategy in low-income countries. 
In recent years there has been a rapid growth of international tourism, and this has been viewed as a stimulus to economic development in developing countries. However, the effectiveness of using tourism as a development strategy has been questioned.
Some candidates may put forward both sides of the argument, evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of tourism as a development strategy. On the positive side, it could be argued that tourism leads to the development of such things as infrastructure and communications, the multiplier effect, foreign currency, employment, and greater integration into the world economy.
On the other hand, it could be argued that the impacts of tourism are limited and spatially concentrated, including factors such as tourist enclaves, mainly low-paid and unskilled labour, “leakage” of revenues, domination by TNCs, and uncertainty regarding tourist numbers due to natural hazard events or political problems.