Institute News Main Headline

Course on special interest tourism helps IFTM students learn about new types of tourists

Assistant Professor Dr. Li Xiangping

中文摘要 / Summary in Chinese

Special interest tourism encompasses various types of rapidly expanding tourism segments. IFTM dedicates an entire course to it, convened by Assistant Professor Dr. Li Xiangping. Students taking the course highlight their interest in the topic, and its relevance to their studies. The course allows them to get a detailed understanding of a trend that has grown significantly over the past decade.

Special interest tourism, also known by the acronym SIT, refers to tourism activities catering to specific interests either of groups or individuals. These have emerged since the 1980s as valuable niche markets for tourism destinations.

SIT examples include, according to Dr. Li, food tourism, medical and wellness tourism, volunteer tourism and backpacker tourism. “There is a long list of different SIT types, and new types continue to emerge,” she says.

IFTM introduced its course on SIT as early as academic year 2004/2005, recognising the sector’s importance for tourism and hospitality industry growth. It is offered as a mandatory course for  students of the Tourism Business Management and Cultural and Heritage Management bachelor’s degree programmes, and as an elective course for students from other programmes.

Dr. Li explains the IFTM course provides undergraduates with “a comprehensive understanding”of SIT segments. The course aims to help students keep up with the rapidly growing portfolio of types of SIT, as the tourism industry responds to market demand for greater customisation and differentiation in tourism offerings.

The course’s curriculum explores the body of knowledge related to the characteristics and needs of special interest tourists. Students are able to learn about various SIT products, and about various value segments.

Moreover, the course enables students to understand how to develop and market SIT products. Undergraduates can also acquaint themselves with issues relating to satisfying the needs of special interest tourists.

Dr. Li explains that, after learning via lectures about relevant theories and concepts, undergraduates on the course are required to explore further the SIT segments via various class activities. Students “are encouraged to participate in class discussions and contribute to case analyses,” the scholar says. “Projects are also employed, to allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the topics discussed.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the course often included field trips outside Macao, to allow students to experience and learn more about different types of SIT. Due to travel restrictions related to the pandemic, such trips have been suspended over the past 2 academic years, but the aim is to resume them as soon as possible.