Niche Tourism, 2022 Update – Thematic Research

Pages: 42 Published: January 20, 2022 Report Code: GDTT-TR-S068

Niche tourism is now recognized across the entire industry, with many companies looking to differentiate their brand from others. Niche tourism has many similarities with the experience economy because niche tourists are constantly searching for engaging and unique experiences that match their interests. In recent years, mainstream holiday providers have identified niche tourism as a potential growth area and, subsequently, niche tourism is no longer confined to small independent companies. Many large conglomerates such as Expedia, TUI, and Booking Holdings have globalized the niche tourism industry through mergers and acquisitions and brand extensions, globalizing the sector.

COVID-19 has altered traveler demands, which has created an opportunity for tourism businesses to innovate and develop their product. Many people have been confined to homeworking, lockdowns, and social distancing intermittently for the past two years, creating a desire to enjoy wider, ‘greener’ spaces while engaging with others. As a result, there is a significant opportunity for niche tourism companies involved in rural and adventure tourism to grow their product. Research from the GlobalData Ads database suggests that operators targeting these types of tourists will receive strong support from DMO’s (Destination Marketing Organizations) as many are actively targeting this market.




What are the main trends shaping the niche tourism market in the recent future?

Consumer trends

Rather than being loyal to one brand, consumers are now loyal to their own personal preferences. Leisure tourism is considered a broad term for traveler motivations and tourism providers have become more niche to better service every traveler’s wants and needs. Tourism providers that focus on particular traveler types are commonly seen across the travel and tourism space as operators that specialize in wildlife, adventure, cultural, and sustainable experiences among many others. Major OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) such as Booking Holdings, Expedia, and Group now promote a wide variety of experiences, but smaller operators are becoming more specific, focused on one segment.

There are plenty of niche tourism markets with a substantial following, such as agri-tourism, eco-tourism, cruises, and ski tourism. Large travel companies have become more in tune with this idea, and as a result, niche tourism is now recognized across the entire industry and not just seen as small companies. Many popular attractions and holiday providers have identified niche tourism as a potential growth area. Subsequently, it has become globalized, with multibillion-dollar companies such as Airbnb, Hilton, Walt Disney, Booking Holdings, and Expedia offering unique and personalized experiences.

Enterprise trends

Large companies such as Booking Holdings, TUI Group, and Expedia are investing in niche tourism experiences and holidays to try and diversify their product ranges. The movement from two of the world’s largest OTAs follows changing trends within the travel industry, with many Millennials and Gen Z tourists seeking more meaningful and fulfilling tourist experiences. The rise of the experience economy has also had a significant impact.

The sharing economy is positively impacting niche tourism, and some tourists are now moving away from traditional hotels. Hotels provide a standardized service, which can vary in quality depending on the service rating of the property. Ultimately, the consumer has a certain level of expectation, such as the check-in process, facilities, aesthetics, and services. However, this standardized type of service can sometimes lack character, innovation, and authenticity. For example, the guest experience in reputable budget hotel chain Motel One will be similar whether they stay at a hotel in Prague in the Czech Republic, or Manchester in the UK. Both hotels have a similar feel and look, breakfast options are identical, and both contain similar facilities such as the ‘Gin Bar’ and contemporary lounge.

Industry trends

Adventure tourism could be a long-term beneficiary of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many activities associated with adventure tourism (such as rock climbing, skiing, hiking, and mountain biking) are outdoor activities that help people to keep socially distanced while enjoying the wider and more open ‘green’ spaces that they are yearning for. The physicality of the activities also means that it is generally more popular with the younger generation such as Millennials and Gen Z, which somewhat limits its potential reach. However, less strenuous outdoor activities such as walking are still popular with older cohorts.

Agricultural and rural tourism will also be a key trend for the niche tourism sector in 2022. During the pandemic, many people have been stuck indoors, instructed to work from home for months. As a result, many people have been unable to experience the outdoors to any real extent. Many countries have experienced at least three lockdowns over the past two years (2020–2022) and as a result of these lockdowns, citizens were restricted to only leaving the house for necessities such as food and medical supplies. Ultimately, this has created significant pent-up demand for open natural spaces. The impact on physical and mental wellbeing has been significant and has led to many tourists seeking an escape from normal day-to-day life.

Which are the key regions and countries in the niche tourism market?

The fastest-growing destinations in terms of leisure tourism tend to be in developing countries where tourism is becoming recognized as a valuable source of income for the economy. Many destinations in the past have invested in eco-tourism to maximize the positive impact on local communities and enhance conservation. The fastest growing destinations for leisure travel include Central Asia and West Africa. The key niche tourism destination countries in these regions include Togo, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Albania, Algeria, Tajikistan, Nepal, Vietnam, and Kosovo. Tourism in Togo and Sierra Leone saw a rapid rise between 2015 and 2019. The stream of international tourists has partly been influenced by volunteers and ecotourism. Over 90% of Tajikistan is highland and is scarcely populated for its size and offers hiking through the mountains and meandering by the lakes, rivers, and valleys.

Niche tourism market, by regionNiche tourism market, by regionFor more regional insights, download a free report sample

Who are the leading players in the niche tourism market?

Successful travel intermediaries have been able to widen the potential market by building strong relationships with local suppliers worldwide. Key leaders in this regard are companies such as Intrepid Travel and G Adventures, offering a wide range of niche tourist experiences that are personalized for the individual traveler. These intermediaries differ substantially from traditional mainstream tour operators such as Hays Travel and Jet2holidays that specialize in package holidays to sun, beach, and city destinations. Some of the key companies in the niche tourism market include Expedia Group, Virgin Atlantic, Airbnb, Kuoni, Megacruise, Comcast Corp., Las Vegas Sands, Alux Caverna Lounge, Mirazur among others.

Niche tourism market, by key players

Niche tourism market, by key players

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Market report scope

Top regions and countries Central Asia and West Africa.

Togo, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Guinea, Albania, Algeria, Tajikistan, Nepal, Vietnam, and Kosovo

Key players Expedia Group, Virgin Atlantic, Airbnb, Kuoni, Megacruise, Comcast Corp., Las Vegas Sands, Alux Caverna Lounge, and Mirazur
  • This thematic report provides an overview of niche tourisms role within the travel sector today and how it will continue its involvement.
  • The key trends within this theme are split between enterprise trends and tourist trends that are recognizable today.
  • Several case studies are included to analyze the multiple ways travel companies such as tour operators, travel agencies, DMO’s and cruise lines have tried to capitalize on niche tourism.
  • Our unique thematic analysis then looks at recommendations for travel and tourism organizations and a deep dive into the leaders and laggards within the niche tourism spectrum, complete with industry examples and analysis.

Reasons to Buy

  • Understand the current niche tourism trends within the travel landscape today and how these will escalate in the near future.
  • Assess how travel and tourism companies such as tour operators, OTAs and DMO’s are utilizing niche tourism to drive revenues.
  • Acknowledge the potential pitfalls of using niche tourism by understanding the social, cultural, and environmental effects on the destination.
  • Discover recommendations that for businesses involved in niche tourism
  • GlobalData’s thematic research ecosystem is a single, integrated global research platform that provides an easy-to-use framework for tracking all themes across all companies in all sectors. It has a proven track record of identifying the important themes early, enabling companies to make the right investments ahead of the competition, and secure that all-important competitive advantage.
  • All across the travel and tourism supply chain, now have an opportunity to capitalize on niche tourism, and there are notable examples of this. Therefore, all should buy this report to fully understand how this theme will continue to be a key theme in the future travel landscape.

Key Players

Accor, Airbnb, Alux Caverna Lounge, Atlantic, Booking Holdings, British Airways, Carnival Corporation, Celebrity Cruises, Chernobyl Tour, Comcast Corp, Group, Eva Air, Expedia Group, Friendly Planet Travel, GAdventures, Gaggan, Genting Malaysia, Gourmet on Tour, Hays Travel, Hemingway’s Lounge, IHG, Intrepid Travel, Kimpton Hotels, Kuoni, Merlin Entertainments, Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Miral Asset Group, Mirazur, Norma 2.0, Norwegian Cruise Lines,, Megacruise, On the Beach, OYO, Rainforest Café, Responsible Travel, Seaworld Parks and Entertainment, SIM Holdings, Soviet Tours, STA Travel, The Northern Lights Bar, TUI Group, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, Universal Studios, Walt Disney, WestJet, Wynn Resorts, Young Pioneer Tours

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Thematic Briefing


Consumer trends

Enterprise trends

Industry trends

Industry Analysis

Holidays are becoming more varied

Case studies

Impacts of niche tourism

Tourists are searching for more immersive experiences


Social impacts on local communities


Mergers and acquisitions


Value Chain

Third-party suppliers

Direct suppliers

Ancillary suppliers


Public companies

Private companies


Further Reading

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