How current forms of special interest tourism might be changed or enhanced

how current forms of special interest tourism might be changed or enhanced

Some forms of special interest tourism are inextricably linked to the location in which they occur. For example wine tourism logically depends for its existence on a region with at least some reputation for wine production

There are however forms of special interest tourism where the use of leading edge technology transcends geographical or climatic restrictions. The ability to snow ski in Dubai or scuba dive in the subarctic are but two examples.

Explore the literature on the nexus between technology in all its manifestations and special interest tourism. Suggest how current forms of special interest tourism might be changed or enhanced or what new forms of special interest tourism might emerge as a result of these advances.

Introduction

Special interest tourism has experienced the use of technology in meeting the unique needs of tourists and breaking geographical and climatic conditions through artificial tourist experiences which are simulations of natural environments. This essay describes the application of information and computing technology in the sectors of the tourism industry to enhance communication, access to tourism information and facilitating tourist expeditions and adventures. In addition the improvements that need to be made in application of technology in special interest tourism such intelligent information systems and innovative wireless technologies have been described in this paper. Because of the advantages associated to application of technology in special interest tourism, new groups of tourists with special needs are emerging and hence there is need for the tourism supply chain to invest more on technologies that will facilitate meeting the needs of the increasing demand.

 

Special interest tourism is a customized recreational or tourism experience designed to fit specific interests of groups or individuals. People have special recreational interests of sceneries, activities, places and emotional attachments. Special interest tourists include individuals or groups with a particular interest that travel to a specific region and destination to meet their recreational needs. Special interest tourism acts to provide diversity in recreational activities (McKercher & Chan, 2005). Special interest tourism gives meaning to tourists through pleasurable activities that enable them to access new experiences away from their routine activities, environments and climates. This category of tourism emanates from the differences in lifestyles, interests, tastes, preferences, culture and financial abilities of the tourists.

There have been many developments in the tourism industry and application of technology has become the new trend in special interest tourism. Because of the disparities within the tourism market, the tourist industry has developed a wide range of recreational resorts and hotels to cater for the special needs of their customers (Chieh, 2001). The tourism industry is now targeting niche markets because some tourists prefer specialized holidays and even quieter resorts (McKercher & Chan, 2005). The development in technology has facilitated the provision of specialized recreational services to tourists through efficiency of access to information, online arrangements for travel and accommodation and payment. In addition the developments in the travel industry such as low cost airlines and jumbo jets have enabled the tourism and transport sector provide specialized services depending on the specific specifications of speed and cost.

The application of technology to serve the special preferences of tourists has led to the introduction and application of artificial adventure environments. Interests of people in outdoor recreation and adventure have led to artificial leisure that employs the new trends and advances in technology (Berger & Greenspan, 2008). Examples of application of artificial recreation environments include outdoor and indoor climbing walls, indoor sport environments, artificial skiing and water theme parks (Stevens, 2009). In Japan for example OceanDome which is the world’s largest indoor ocean was constructed with rolling of artificial waves and use of plastic squeaks of sand in an artificial beach. This is the application of adventure programming technology to serve the special needs of tourists.

The tourist industry is moving into a future where artificial adventure environments are becoming dominating in provision of specialized services to tourists. With the application of Challenge Course Technology, course builders are fulfilling the classic outdoor desires of tourists. The number of special interest tourists is likely to increase profoundly with in future due to the increasing improvement of safety measures within artificial courses (McKercher & Chan, 2005). The natural outdoor settings are likely to shrink steadily with the advent of new technologies and their application in special interest tourism industry. Interests of tourists in specialized services in areas such as skiing and climbing will increase as a result of facilitating technology and hence promote the tourism industry.

With the increase in the number of tourists with special needs, design technologies in engineering, architecture and landscaping have been used to create geographic, hydrological and climatologic features to optimize leisure experiences. Artificial lagoons for example have been developed to provide various resort models for tourists. Examples of the new trends in recreation include floating swimming pools and indoor water theme parks (Stevens, 2009). These recreational features have been used by tourists in varying capacities because of the disparities in aesthetic preferences within the tourism market.

The major sectors that the special interest tourism target includes adventure tourism, ethnic and rural tourism, nature based tourism, health and religious tourism. People travel for various reasons which range from business, family and education to recreation. The Islamic culture provides for an annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Christians may also travel for religious purposes to Jerusalem to satisfy their religious desires. Such travel is included in special interest tourism because of the specificity of the reasons of travel. Some tourists travel into their ancestral lands to fulfill their needs for rural experience. All these sectors promote special interest tourism because the industry provides travel, accommodation and tour services specific for such tourist categories.

With the use of modern computing technology and the internet, special interest tourism such as dark tourism has enabled tourists to visit dark tourism sites on the internet and freely access the information they need. This shows growing consumer interest in special interest tourism. The use internet technology has facilitated posting images on the websites that takes the tourists back in history such as historical public executions. People are increasing their interest in sites that illustrate historical massacres and battles that happened in the past within tourist destinations they visit (Pranicevic, 2006). New developments in technology will lead to dark tourism being reported in real world as the events unfold. Moreover, simulations of the past happenings in form of multimedia such as video and animation would further promote the special interests of tourists who are interested in dark tourism (Baines, 2001).

Special interest tourism in sports has employed technology to provide indoor game tournaments such as ice hockey, skiing, tennis, polo golf, soccer and basketball. Large platinum screens are installed in the buildings to enhance the viewing of the games by tourists who travel for recreation in sports. Sports events in any country promote its tourism industry because international guests require travel, accommodation and tour services.

Cultural tourism has been promoted by technological advances which provide multimedia that describes various cultural interests of tourists. Cultural and professional activities have been made possible through use of technology to communicate objectives and activities of meetings and travel destination to experience various cultures (Baines, 2001). The applications of simulations that describe the cultural activities are used to enhance the understanding of tourists who travel in order to learn about world cultures and beliefs. The future of special interest tourism would employ innovative technology that will remove geographical barriers between tourist and the cultural groups through the use of telegraphic technology.

Professional guides have been presented to adventure tourists via computers and mobile phone technology. The use of geographical information systems such as Google maps have been employed in adventure tourism thus increasing the number of tourists that are interested in such tourism activities. Adventure in the real world environments has therefore been enhanced by technology. Communication between tour guides and the tourists is also facilitated by the use of wireless technologies such as mobile phone communication.

Artificial adventure is becoming the leading source of income in the tourism industry due to its attachment to modern technology. With the new trends and advancements in technology, artificial adventure sites have been accessed by special interest tourists across the world via cartographic applications accessed through computers and iPads. The future of this industry is headed for even more innovative techniques, for example technology has been used to simulate climbing with walls that spins and tilts in different angles (Chieh, 2001). Special interest tourism that focuses on tourists with climbing passions or hobbies would use computer consoles to add challenge to tourists in artificial climbing. Such consoles will enable the tourists to adjust the inclines and speed depending on their abilities to climb. In this scenarios, operators use communication devices to ensure the security of the tourists.  The use of technology in artificial climbing eliminates the need for special clothing, helmets and robes thus attracting more special interest tourists.

The future of artificially constructed adventures is headed to advances in devices and invention of gadgets that eliminate the health and safety concerns of tourists. Environmental protection will be enhanced through artificial adventure technologies hence making the future of special interest tourism in adventure to be commercially very attractive (Berger & Greenspan, 2008). The increased emergence of simulations and adventure products in the modern tourism market will promote more innovations that would create better typologies to meet the tourism market demands.

The transition of the tourism industry has majorly been facilitated by adoption of information and communication technology in provision of services and products to tourists. The new trends in technology has experienced incesed use of technology to meet specialized needs of tourist within the special interest toursm framework (McKercher & Chan, 2005). Technology is reshaping the value chain of the special interest tourism and tourists are adapting new values and lifestyles. The application of technology has been experienced in sectors of tourism such as hotels, airlines, tour operators, rail and road transport. Special intrest tourism included the use of technology to facilitate online booking of hotel rooms by tourists depending on the varying budgets and preferences. The travel agencies now have websites through which tourists can book and pay for the services via the online transaction applications (Ming & Ming 2008).

Technologies that have found application in the special interest tourism include Global Distribution Systems (GDS), Computer Reservation Systems (CRS) and the internet. Global Distribution Systems include network connections that integrate automated booking systems by the tourism sectors to meet the diverse needs of tourists (Papageorgiou, 2008). The system provides instant access to travel agencies around the world. Special interest tourism for mountain climbing destinations will enable tourists to contact the travel agencies through web applications in order to book reservations for travel to their prefered destinations. The computer reservation system has been promoted by the increased access to the internet that helps tourists with special interests to access the travel agencies and hotel and accommodation companies to book reservations depending on tastes and preferences.

To make the special interest tourism grow even more, there is need for development of an intelligent information  system or a well structured systems to facilitate the access of travel, hotel and tourist attraction information. This will eliminate the limitations of the ICT technology within the tourism industry (Pranicevic, 2006). Limitations such as fragmentaion of information on the web makes tourists to take a lot of time in accessing relevant information and in some instances the structure of the website pages becomes misleading to the tourists. Intelligent systems will facilitate acquisition of specific information by tourists on specialized tourist activities such as sports, religion, adventure and education.

The improvemnets in technologies that would highly facilitate the special interest tourism include development of search engines specific for the tourism industry. This will increase the number of special tourist groups because many tourists have unique needs but they are not able to enjoy recreational opportunities due to lack of sufficient information. In addition facilities that allow tourists to browse the online tourism information sources according to topic should be provided (Berger & Greenspan, 2008). Tourists will be able to access information that is unique to their preferences and financial abilities. Most of the current search systems provide generalized information on tourism hence there is a need to include cartegorization of services so that the diverse desires of tourists are accommodated.

Wireless technologies should be introduced to the special interest tourism industry to meet special preferences of tourists. There is a special group of tourists who travel for education activities away from their normal routines. Such special tourists could attend conferences to get information on their careers or areas of interest (Law, 2008). Therefore the hotel and accommodation sector should provide conference rooms with wireless technologies so that tourists would access information and communicate with others via  wireless apllication protocols. In addition, the industry should employ global navigation satellite systems which will enable tourists who have a passion for adventure though facilitated navigation of locations via GPRS technologies.

User friendly computer and web applications that are specially designed for the information needs of all categories of tourists should be implemented to promote special interest tourism (Ming & Ming 2008). Tourists will be able to access specific resources such as sports information sources, culture and adventure in relation to the tourist destinations so that they will have advance knoweledge before visiting these locations. Easy access of information will also facilitate preparations on travel and accomodation services.

The artificial simulations that provide outdoor experiences to tourists need to be innovated to make them more real. Although it would be impossible to make artificial features to look exactly like the natural environments, improvements can be made to make them as close to reality as possible (McKercher & Chan, 2005). Artificial mountain climbing in virtual worlds where tourists climb to the top on virtual mountains without oxygen masks can be more real if special climbing clothing that are used in natural adventures are introduced to the virtual climbing to make the experience more real and thus attract the number of special tourists.

The number of tourists within the special tourist industry have increased in the recent past due to application of technology in promoting these services. Tourists who are passionate about theatre and movie industries for example have increased because of the new trends in this industry that advertises its products through the internet and international media (Berger & Greenspan, 2008). The availability of information via online promotion of tourism has led to emergence of new preferences that has led to growth of special interest tourism in areas of sports, adventure, religion and education. The promotion of tourism is also prominent in the mass media such as CNN through which various tourist destinations market their services and products. This has resulted in emergence of special groups of tourists from all over the world who  have specific needs and tastes.

Application of electronic tourism has promoted creation of several linkages among business firms across regions of the world (Baines, 2001). The interrelation of sectors of tourism such as travel, hotel and accomodation makes it necessary that these sectors work together as a supply chain to meet the incresing demand in the tourism sector. The commercial linkages within the tourism industry via electronic networks has enabled the tourism sector to refer their clients to their business partners and associates so that the special needs of the tourists are effectively met. For example a tourist who may want a natural expedition or adventure would be refered to a tour company from the hotel management through online communication. Airlines would also refer travellers to various tourist destinations  that they would visit upon arrival through online linkages.

The use of technologies such as automated mountaineering gears, reseach equipment, communication, radio and recreation accessories is common in special interest tourism because of the diversity of needs among tourists (Ming & Ming 2008). The tourism industry also provides technologies such as video conferencing, email, film, music and even heated tent floors to meet the preferences of the tourists. Such technologies increase the cost of recreation by many fold. To promote the tourism industry and encourage emergence of special group tourists it is necessary for the special interest tourism industry to perform a cost benefit analysis so that the cost of tourist services would be reduced. This will attract more tourists because many individuals are limited by financial cababilities in accessing tourist services and products.

The emergence of online booking servers in the tourism industry has made them to become the new intermediaries and thus replacing the travel agents (Law, 2008). The special interest tourism industries should invest more on these virtual intermediaries to help tourists access their services through the internet. The electronic systems have supplied world wide products to tourists with high reliability and functionality. Holiday packages, rental cars and hotel bookings have been made possible through these electronic systems which have also provided information retrieval services to the tourists from all over the world.

Technology has led to provision of adventures that are safe and less costly compared to the real world expeditions that will involve travel expenses, hotel and food arrangements in addition to spending a lot of time (Berger & Greenspan, 2008). Tourists who have limitations in time and resources are now able to use the special technology that provides secure adventure in areas away from the natural features. For example tourists can snow skii even in Dubai due to the application of technology to provide indoor skiing experiences that are as vast as the real life skiing environments. The artificial beaches in Japan also provide tourists with ocean experience away from the natural ocean environments. This illustrates the application of technology in breaking geographical limitations and climatic conditions (McKercher & Chan, 2005). Tourists do not need to travel into natural adventure environments when they would have the same experience through the artificial features hence reducing some costs associaated with recreation experiences. Safety in artificial adventures is made possible through use of automated safety devices that help to detect and prevent accidents. The Sub Arctic Scuba in Yukon is another example of application of technology in special interest tourism that gives tourists diving experiences  away from natural features.

The rising special categories of tourists will require the travel and hotel industries to provide services that target niche markets. Many caterories of travel arrangements should be provided to cater for the varying needs tourists. The airlines should also provide fast jumbo jets for tourists who have limited time and yet would afford to access adventure, sport, religious or education related recreation activities (Offutt, 2010). The planes provide special levels of travel classess for tourists because their budgets and preferences differ. The hotel industry should provide modern communication technology for tourists such as efficient access to social networks through computers in the tourist rooms and international calls to meet the new demands and trends in technology, (Papageorgiou, 2008).

Technologies such as high resolution cameras both for video and still images are available with zoom capabilities that tourists with special preferences can use during their recreation moments. Tourists who travel to watch birds or migration of wild animals find the use of such technology very valuable to their tourist activities and needs. To attract special tourist groups, tour agencies should provide products that are relevant within various tourist expeditions. The use of technology should be implemented  by tourist agencies so that tourist can access online information to acquire prior knowledge before they engage in tourist activities so that they know what they should expect to see and all services available to them (Pranicevic, 2006).

 

Conclusion

The tourism industry has evolved and the modern trends include application of technology to create artificial environments that help tourists to enjoy various experiences without traveling to the natural environments and climates. Special interest tourism has adopted and implemented technology in special tourist interest areas such as sports, religion, culture and education. The use of information and communication technology has also facilitated tourist activities by provision of specialized travel, communication, safety and accommodation services by the sectors of the tourism supply chain.

 

References

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Berger, I. E., & Greenspan, I. (2008). High (on) Technology: Producing Tourist Identities

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Chieh S., (2001). Information and communication technologies in tourism 2000. Tourism and

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Law, R. (2008). “ENTER2008”: Report on the 15th International Conference on Information

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Ming, S., & Ming, C. (2008). Special interest tour preferences and voluntary simplicity lifestyle.

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 2(4), 389-389-409.

McKercher, B., & Chan, A. (2005). How Special is Special Interest Tourism?. Journal of Travel

Research, 44(1), 21-31.

Offutt, B. (2010). Travel Innovation and Technology Trends 2010 and Beyond. PhoCusWright

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Papageorgiou, G. (2008). Tourism: A modern synthesis. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 8(1),

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Pranicevic, G. (2006). Application of information and communication technologies (ICT) in

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Stevens, Q. (2009). Artificial waterfronts. Urban Design International, 14(1), 3-3-21

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