Over the last ten years, tourism has diversified considerably. Whilst holidays used to largely fall into the summer sun, winter sun, ski, and the “original niche markets” which included lakes and mountains and city breaks, the market is now much more sophisticated. Tourists are more confident about travelling to destinations that are further from home, they are more confident about booking flights and accommodation themselves, and many want to be increasingly active when they are on their desirable holiday.
These changes in consumer attitudes have led to the emergence of a large number of small, niche tour operators that offer activities and tours that have not traditionally been included in the large, more mainstream, tour operator brochures. However, the popularity of these niche markets and their rapid rates of growth in recent years have led many of the larger operators to either include them in their own brochures, or buy some of the smaller operators and merge them into their own organisations.
There are a variety of niche tourism markets that may be developed depending on supply and demand assessments. Niche markets might include Farm and Country Tourism, Ecotourism, Bird-Watching, Cycle Tourism, Charity tourism, Veteran tourism, Indigenous Tourism, Adventure, Health (Wellness and Medical), Backpacking, Gay and Lesbian or Educational Tourism. The development of products and experiences to meet the needs of niche markets should be based on an understanding of visitor market characteristics and preferences and assessment of their feasibility and investment potential.
The national tourism industry should not only be developed in general but a special niche market should be looked into that can enhance the industry's potentials and attraction. Niche markets are partly responsible for driving the growth of tourism to many parts of the world, and in many instances in a responsible and sustainable way. With increasing concern amongst travellers about the environment, these market segments are all becoming an increasingly important part of the tourism sector.