Alternative forms of tourism are different from regular tourism. It aims for a friendly relationship between travelers and local hosts. Further, alternative forms of tourism aim at seeking a transition from impersonal, traditional mass tourism to establishing cordial rapport between visitors and the local hosts.

These tourists normally avoid the services that are used by tourists such as accommodation, transport, and other services. They prefer to share or use the services of the locals. The main motive of this type of traveler is to experience and get an insight way of the local lifestyles.

Alternative tourism is also popularly famous as a key to sustainable development. It promotes balanced growth, keeping in mind the local environment, and socio-cultural concerns.

Tourism development activities such as the construction of hotels, resorts, roads, tourist infrastructure, etc. are costly and affect the environment. But alternative forms of tourism have a minimal negative impact on the environment.

Nowadays with the growing concern for the environment, alternative forms of tourism led to the emergence of travel agents and tour operators to specialize in ecotourism, heritage tourism, cultural tourism, etc.

Alternative Forms of Tourism

Alternative forms of tourism can further be classified into:

Special Interest Tourism

Special interest tourism has evolved from a search for new avenues. The tourism industry has felt the need to expand the destination experience beyond pleasure and give the tourist a completely unique experience in an area that is of special interest to the tourists.

The special interest tourists look for unusual experiences and not for the regular routine itineraries, which include attractions to cater to the needs of the mass tourist.

Special interest tourism can be defined as people traveling to a particular destination with the purpose of fulfilling a particular interest, which can be pursued only at that destination. In India, from the special interest tourist’s point of view, culture is the most popular range of special interests that a tourist may pursue.

A few examples of special interest tourism are, visiting Mughal architecture, textile canters of India, gourmet tours to learn, and also visiting cultural sites like the Taj Mahal, Temples, and palaces, etc.


Ecotourism is one of the popular forms of alternative tourism. It is often called sustainable nature-based tourism. However, ecotourism also incorporates social and cultural dimensions where visitors interact local residents.

Ecotourism usually describes tourism activities that are conducted in harmony with nature. This form of tourism fosters environmental principles with an emphasis on visiting and observing natural areas. Thus ecotourism can be defined as purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the cultural and natural history of the environment, taking care of the ecosystem while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources financially beneficial to the local citizens.

Due to the large movement of people and unplanned tourism development, ecology and the people at the destination are greatly affected. Unregulated tourism tends to destroy forests, consume firewood, create pollution and overcrowding, and threaten the flora and fauna diversity.

The rich forested slopes have been converted into barren rocks due to the development of activities such as roads, hostels, and trekking trails. The intrusion of humans has led to the decline of forest cover and damage to the precious ecosystem and biodiversity.

Keeping all the above points which resulted in the destruction of our natural habited tourism should be developed within the carrying capacity of the resources and ecotourism should be promoted.

Rural Tourism

Tourists nowadays are shifting their interest in travel to a new destination. They travel to rural areas to explore and experience the destination and have first-hand knowledge of the local people, their cuisine, and the actual way of living. Recently in India, rural tourism has gained importance. As a result, the Government of India is marketing rural tourism through its “Incredible India” promotional campaign.

Ethnic Tourism

Ethnic tourism involves travel for the purpose of observing the cultural expression of lifestyles and customs of the indigenous and exotic people. This type of tourism focuses directly on local people. Ethnic tourism involves direct interaction with the authentic culture of the ingenious people. This kind of tourism involves a visit to the local homes, observe, and participate in their traditional rituals, ceremonies, dances, festivals, etc.

The main aim of ethnic tourism is to gain first-hand experience of the way of life and cultural artifacts of the local people.

Senior Citizen Tourism

This is a fairly new emerging trend in tourism specially meant for the senior citizen of old ages. Many tour operators and travel agents are nowadays specialized in packaging tours specially designed for senior citizens. The tour packaged includes a tour escort or tour guide who keeps the senior citizen occupied with entertainment and activities suitable for their age. Extreme care is taken to the senior citizen due to their age factor and other health-related issues.

This concept of tourism is common in the West because of the nuclear family concept. But now it has become popular even in India.

Wildlife Tourism

Wildlife is a term that refers to both flora and fauna components of the natural environment. Further, wildlife has gained popularity in the last decade. Many young enthusiasts and nature lovers as well as adventure seekers are exploring this new area of tourism. Realizing the economic benefits of the country, the government is promoting wildlife tourism to a vast extent.

Space Tourism

Space tourism is the term broadly applied to the concept of paying customers traveling beyond the earth’s atmosphere. This is a new upcoming form of tourism where people will buy tickets to travel to space for a short duration. The limitless resources of space are soon becoming a profitable business.

Cultural tourism

People have become more curious to know more about foreign land, their people, and their culture. The culture of a country plays an important factor to attract millions of visitors. Cultural tourism gives a visitor insight knowledge of:

Way of life or lifestyle of people

Way of people dress, jewelry, dance, architecture, painting, and music

People tradition, custom and beliefs, fairs and festivals and religious practices practice in the region.

Cultural tourism helps in widening one’s knowledge about people’s places, their ways of life, cultural traditions, etc. Some of the worth-mentioning cultural events in India are Ellora Festival, Elephant Festival, Dubai Festival, Khajuraho Festival, etc.

In India, cultural tourism plays a significant role in the country’s economy. Every culture in India differs from one state to another and from one region to another region.

Cultural tourism has offered the tourists an original and unique destination experience especially in India because of ethnic diversity.

Adventure tourism

Adventure tourism is a different type of tourism, it is challenging because it takes a tourist into a place or region which are less visited and may not have easy access. These regions may offer minimal facilities and comforts. For example, going for a trek through dense forests with a tent to live in and a campfire to cook. Adventure activities may expose a higher risk with lots of excitement.

Further, adventure tourism is a package of recreation, enjoyment, education, and the thrills of participating in an adventure. Mostly young people are attracted to undertake adventure tourism as it involves risk and excitement.

Types of Adventure Tourism 

There are two types of adventure tourism. They are:

Land Adventure

Adventure on land is available in many forms which include jungles, deserts, hills, and mountains covered with natural flora and fauna.

Further, adventure on land can also be a safari traveling or a wildlife excursion or traveling through a desert or jungles where the element of adventure could be experienced.

Other popular forms of adventure on land can be wall climbing, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping.

Water Adventure

Diving is the most popular water adventure sport especially in areas with coral reefs in Andaman and Nicobar Island and Lakshadweep Island. Scuba diving and snorkeling are other famous water adventure activities. Other water adventure sports include deep-sea diving, parasailing, water skiing, water rafting, canoeing, windsurfing, etc.

Aerial Adventure: the oldest form of aerial adventure is ballooning. Balloons are filled with light gas either hydrogen or helium gas. Other aerial adventures sports include paragliding, parachute jumping, hand gliding, bungee jumping, etc.

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