Senior tourism is predicted to be a major force in the 21st century.
Older citizens have both purchasing power and leisure time; therefore they represent a significant economic market potential which needs strategic responses. By reinforcing senior tourism, older citizens can contribute to face the challenge of seasonality, stimulating economic growth and jobs in Europe, recalled speakers during AFE-INNOVNET webinar on Senior tourism.
Three speakers were invited to present the initiatives at the EU level but also at the local-regional level in the field of age-friendly tourism. The speakers illustrated the new trends in regards with tourism, going from sustainable to responsible tourism. All these new concept are now involved and taken into account to encourage older tourists to enjoy a break where the environment is adapted to their needs and expectations.
Oscar Almendros Bonis, from DG GROW (Tourism Unit Policy), presented the senior initiative. Starting in 2012 due to the political support of the European Commission (EC) and the tourism development potential in the extension of seasonality and generation of growth and employment opportunities, fostering transnational tourism flows for elderly travels in the low season has been one of the lines of action of the EU Tourism Policy. Mr Almendros briefly explained the background of this initiative, reshaping an EC initiative called “Calypso: Tourism for All” running from 2009 to 2012– aiming at promoting transnational exchanges between different countries or regions during low-tourist seasons targeting the following groups: underprivileged young adults (aged 18-30); families on low incomes; people with disabilities; and seniors (65+). Indeed, these groups can help extend the tourism season and help create longer-lasting employment in the tourism sector, as they are less constrained by vocational seasons.
Several actions (e.g. survey, questionnaire, workshops) were taken in the previous years to better understand the seniors needs and expectations and thus to better support the action plan “Low season tourism: towards age-friendly tourism”, which objectives would be to gather knowledge to boost the demand in the low and medium seasons and create a transnational business model with a view to improve the offer, promote Europe as a single destination and facilitate a good governance and monitoring of all initiatives foster political support at all different territorial levels.
Jovita García Collado, Lawyer and Expert at Environmental Management and Sustainable Development at Ambienta 45 presented the "ActivSeniors" project, which promotes sustainable and responsible tourism in natural areas with specific care and attention for people over 55 years and that have a positive im
pact on the health and wellbeing of travelers. In order to implement this type of tourism, Ambienta 45 set up the “ActivSeniors method”, with the collaboration of public-private organisations from the tourism and environmental sector and local and regional authorities. The project aims at preparing tourist destinations for the new reality of an older population and help them create a complete tourist product adapted to the new needs and expectations of the ageing and mature baby boomers. ActivSeniors use a particular method to create their tourist products on the particularity of each territory (e.g. biodiversity, climate, culture, social resources), where nature and health is at the centre of the thinking process, thus making it a unique product.
Maddalena Illario, Coordinator of the CosMic Network and Campania Reference Site, presented an overview of several municipalities of Campania Cosmic Net and their age-friendly initiatives in the field of tourism (Ottaviano, Capaccio-Paestum, Pollica and Minori). Being aware of the challenges posed by the ageing population, these municipalities have seen their naturel environment and resources and local heritage as an opportunity to develop their tourism sector for everyone, and especially older tourist. The abovementioned municipalities have adopted resolutions to deploy dedicated services to fulfil seniors’ needs and have integrated them in the tourist offer. In municipalities and the private sector was needed. By investing in these policies, they believe they can more effectively and sustainably address certain challenges, such as seasonality and at the same time, driving the development of joint policies among local stakeholders.