Emerging Industry Overview: Specialty Tourism

Industry Snapshot

From cycling to safaris, anthropological digs to spiritual retreats, the face of tourism changed dramatically in the last few decades. Most often called specialty tourism, this rapidly emerging segment began to revolutionize the leisure travel industry as a whole. Once geared toward only high-end customers who were able to pay large sums of money for extravagant and individualized tours, by the twenty-first century the industry had branched out, annually drawing in hundreds of thousands of "average" travelers, all interested in new and challenging ways to spend their leisure time.

In general, the bulk of specialty tours is targeted at specific groups--such as families, women, singles, or gays/lesbians--or specific activities such as cycling, hiking, kayaking, or gambling. This targeted approach has led to a great deal of diversity in the field, with more than 80,000 companies offering services worldwide. Specialty tourism is expected to continue to grow and develop and even emerge as a dominant force in the leisure travel industry well into the twenty-first century.