Africa Travel Week
ATW Niche Tourism

Niche tourism: what’s the next big thing?  

Different people have different ideas about the perfect holiday. Some want to relax on the beach, others want to explore a new city, and still, others want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, there is a growing trend of travellers after a specific activity or interest in their downtime. This type of tourism is called niche tourism.  

The benefits of niche tourism 

A study by the University of the Western Cape has highlighted the benefits of niche tourism compared to “mass tourism”. For example, niche tourism can help improve the quality of jobs in the tourism industry by creating new markets. Niche markets also often require specialised skills, leading to higher wages and greater job satisfaction.  

In addition, community-based tourism projects tend to be located outside traditional tourism areas, promoting a geographic distribution of tourism benefits. Because independent travellers typically spend more money locally than package tourists, niche tourism can also boost local economies. 

3 Trends in Niche Tourism in Africa 

Exploring the kelp forests of South Africa 

The documentary The Octopus Teacher not only won an Academy Award but also generated worldwide interest in marine forests and the creatures that inhabit them.

Niche Tourism

Tour operators have seized the opportunities to offer “marine experiences inspired by The Octopus Teacher,” such as freediving courses, tours of tidal pools and, in the case of the luxurious Tinstwalo in Cape Town, their two-night package includes snorkelling in the kelp forests.  

DNA tourism and ancestry exploration 

African Americans have been interested in travelling to find out more about their African heritage for decades, but affordable DNA testing is increasing demand, and a new travel trend is taking shape. This new wave of “DNA tourism” is being promoted by companies like Classic Journeys and Family Tree Tours, which hope to capitalise on this growing trend. Airbnb recently announced a partnership with a DNA testing service to provide personalised rental and travel recommendations based on the results. 

Pitching in as a citizen scientist 

Sustainability is high on many travellers’ agendas and presents an opportunity to capitalise on tourists’ desire to contribute positively to environmental initiatives through an immersive holiday experience. Ruaha National Park in Tanzania is home to the Douglas Bell Eco Research Station. Tourists at Usangu Expedition Camp can participate in conservation work and research in the wetlands, choosing a boat safari or spending time with a researcher in the field.

Similarly, guests at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can help tag and monitor pangolins being reintroduced as part of their safari experience. 

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.