WTM London 2015 award for accessible accommodations

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Tourism businesses and organisations around the world are being considered for the World Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 at WTM London this November.  The prestigious awards scheme, co-founded and organised by Responsible Travel, is part of World Travel Market’s World Responsible Tourism Day – the largest day of responsible tourism action in the world – which takes place on Wednesday 4 November and  celebrates the most inspiring and innovative examples of responsible tourism in practice globally.  For a second year, Enable Holidays will support accessible tourism in the Awards. Enable Holidays was the first UK tour operator to be accredited for its competence in auditing the accessibility and grading the suitability of accommodations abroad for people with disability, seniors, slow walkers and others needing better access.  This year the category ‘Best Accommodation for Disability Access’ will be awarded to an hotel or place to stay that is accessible and enjoyable for all, welcoming travellers of all physical and mental capabilities and which can serve as an example to the wider tourism industry.

A major discussion topic at World Travel Market London last year, the accessible tourism category also produced one of the 2014 Awards Overall winners, Campo & Parque dos Sonhos, Brazil, recognised for “demonstrating that truly inclusive tourism can enhance the adventure activity experiences for everyone, and enable families and friends to share their leisure and the experiences”, according to Chair of the Judging Panel Professor Harold Goodwin.

Lynne Kirby, managing director of Enable Holidays, believes the awards can play an important role in promoting accessible holidays: ‘’As one of the pioneers of accessible travel, Enable Holidays is pleased to support initiatives that are helping to open up more of the world to disabled people”. By sponsoring the Access category, Enable Holidays is helping to promote the need for truly barrier-free holidays and keeping this important issue at the top of the agenda.

Follow on Twitter: @RTAwards @WTM_London @enableholidays #WRTA2015


Ageing Boomers a factor in increasingly important Family Tourism

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Seniors and grandchildren

AUT University academics Heike A. Schanzel and Ian Yeoman have just had a paper published discussing “Trends in Family Tourism” (Journal of Tourism Futures, 2015: Vol. 1 Iss 2 pp. 141 – 147).  In it, the authors discuss how family travel is predicted to grow at a faster rate than all other forms of leisure travel.  It is a phenomena shaped by changes in demography and social structures, including a growing number of older people.   Longevity and smaller core families have led to the family becoming more vertical rather than statically horizontal in form. Grandparents are enjoying more time with their grandchildren as they live longer.  “In 1960”, write the authors, “the life expectancy of a UK woman was 73 and the mean age for giving birth was 27. Presently, the life expectancy for a woman is 81.9 and the age for giving birth is increasingly in their 30s. Present day grandparents can expect to enjoy several more years with their grandchildren than those of the 1960s”.  People expect grandparents to continue to play an active role in their grandchildren’s life.

Increasingly re-connection holidays across generations become a way for extended families to spend valuable time together, and 75% of travellers plan their holiday around a milestone event such as a birthday, reunion, wedding or anniversary – and even a holiday, to bring family members together. More baby boomers are becoming grandparents who are typically healthier, mobile and want to spend quality, fun time with their grandchildren.

Follow on Twitter: @tomorrowstouris

Permanent link to paper: Heike A. Schänzel Ian Yeoman , (2015),”Trends in family tourism”, Journal of Tourism Futures, Vol. 1 Iss 2 pp. 141 – 147 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JTF-12-2014-0006

VisitEngland conference on accessible tourism

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VisitEngland photo of a wheelie and a pushchair user in a souvenir shop

VisitEngland is that country’s national tourist board. Its role is to grow the value of tourism by working in partnership with the industry to deliver inspirational marketing campaigns and to provide advocacy for the industry and visitors. The organisation’s work is underpinned by robust research and customer insights.  VisitEngland has for a number of years been at the forefront of developing accessible tourism for people with disabilities and others who need better access to tourism, travel, and hospitality.  It has carried out a number of initiatives in this area (search here), and annually gives an “Access For All” award at its Visit England Awards for Excellence” celebrations.   Recently, VisitEngland received funding from the European Commission to develop accessible tourism, and is currently part way through an “Access for All” project, developing and promoting 7 high quality accessible tourism itineraries.

This year – as part of English Tourism Week 2015 (14-22 March), VisitEngland will be holding a conference on achieving access for all in tourism venues.   Unlocking the Purple Pound will be held in partnership with Sandcastle Waterpark in Blackpool on Wednesday 18th March.  Sandcastle won the 2013 Gold Award for accessible tourism.   The  free event will help business owners and managers improve their facilities and services for disabled people and those with other accessibility needs – a market now worth £12.4bn to England’s tourism industry.

With more than 1 in 6  visitors to England likely to have an impairment and a massive 31% uplift in the number of domestic holidays taken by the 55+ age group since 2006, the business case for improving accessibility has never been more compelling.

Sponsored by Aveso, the programme is packed full of practical tips and expert insights, including an Access Statement workshop, top tips for accessible marketing and tailored sessions for attraction and accommodation businesses.

Follow on Twitter: @VisitEngland @VisitEnglandBiz @AvesoCP

Boomers “agents of change” in tourism: SMG Consulting

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Boomers and seniors at the Tower of London

SMG Consulting is a Californian company which carries out research and develops strategic plans and tourism marketing programs in tourism, recreation, and hospitality.  They have just released their eight annual SMG Tourism Outlook for 2015.  In it, they describe several agents of change in the industry, including demographics and consumer behaviour (the others are climate, and tourism funding).

The report points out that by 2029, more than 20% of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Although the number of Baby Boomers will decline through mortality, this shift toward an increasingly older population is expected to endure. By 2056, the population 65 years and over is projected to become larger than the population under 18 years. While Boomers are getting older, they still represent 25% of the U.S. population with the highest disposable income, a significant share of the tourism industry bottom line.The report goes on to say that today’s Baby Boomer is quite different, however, than a decade ago, even a year ago. Following the free spirited lead of their Millennial kids and Gen Xer co-workers, Baby Boomers are mimicking their leisure patterns and pursuit of fun in their older years. The report calls this “Aging Younger”.

Because of this, some traditional pursuits of older generations are in decline.  For example, the report points out that in the USA, golf is on the downswing.   As Baby Boomers age and move on to other passions, Gen Xers and Millennials are not replacing the void. Following suit, Baby Boomers are also spending more of their precious time in a variety of activities such as food pairings and motorcycle touring making them less inclined to play the traditional 18 rounds. A similar situation exists in skiing, that is, as Baby Boomers age and turn to other passions, Generation Xers and Millennials are not replacing the volume or frequency.

Boomers are healthier and wealthier than ever, and more willing to engage in numerous activities. For example, WanderLust, a yoga music foodie festival, and the SnowGlobe music festival, attract both a younger and older audience. Priorities with health, community and ecology, Wanderlust festivals are popping up all over, extending the life of tired destinations and many of their traditional Baby Boomer visitor segments. Remember, Baby Boomers were raised on Rock ‘n’ Roll and self-expression. Baby Boomers who are the parents of Millennials want new experiences too. They like music festivals and yoga, which keep them young, and the destination even younger. Chasing youth is a great revenue generator, especially for mature destinations that desperately need repositioning.

Source: SMG Consulting (http://smgonline.net/).  Follow on Twitter: @SMGtahoe

ICT and coastal tourism for all: European conference

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Cote d Azur veiw of the coast

Euro-Mediterranean m-Tourism institutions and professionals recently shared their ideas and suggestions on ICT and Coastal Tourism for All with 80 professionals attending the 4th Telecom Valley m-Tourism Day in Nice, France (http://www.investincotedazur.com/en/info/news/ict-and-coastal-tourism-for-all-in-the-euro-mediterranean/).  The session was part of the Digital Economy Fortnight in PACA. Coastal tourism was discussed in terms of  access for all, including people with disabilities, families, seniors, and others who need better access. Presenting bodies included institutions (Riviera Cote d’Azur CRT, Nice Cote d’Azur CCI, NECstour) and digital companies which are developing solutions related tosuch visitors.  Included were the WACAN Agency in Sophia Antipolis, which has developed a smartphone application for walksfor those with visual and hearing loss. The AISM (Italian Association for multiple sclerosis), BALEARES TURISMO, CARPEVITAM NGO, DEFISMED, FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA TURISMO, GEOLIVES) also presented projects.  .

Jean-Bernard Titz, President of Telecom Valley and leader of the m-Tourism commission, announced the release of the commission’s latest white paper (www.m-tourism-day.eu) focusing on “Tourism, ICT and Disability”, which is the result of consultation involving many beneficiaries and experts in tourism, ICT, law,  and the Silver Economy (senior citizens economy).

Follow on Twitter: @TelecomValley @jbdevhelp @CotedAzur4Biz

Guest post: New Zealand missing out by failing to accommodate travellers with mobility challenges.

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Reflections on a recent holiday in Alaska and Canada.  Guest post by Roger Loveless.  Roger is a New Zealander who uses an electric wheelchair and recently spent a month travelling with it overseas. He has muscular dystrophy and lives in Hamilton.  He retired from the electric power industry in 2008 and now works part time as an access coordinator for CCS Disability Action (http://www.ccsdisabilityaction.org.nz/). He has always enjoyed travel and experiencing different cultures with his wife Mary.  Next year they will be visiting their son’s family, including two grandchildren, in Britain which will include a weeks “glamping” in a Mongolian Yurt in Dorset.  Picture: Roger and his wife Mary

Taku Helicopter


 I have just returned from my first overseas holiday with my electric wheelchair. My wife Mary and I went to the USA and Canada using planes, ships, a helicopter, cable car, taxi cabs, trains, buses and coaches. We did a 14 day Alaskan cruise out of Seattle, the Rocky Mountaineer train from Calgary to Vancouver and some other sightseeing.  At some cruise ship ports of call I couldn’t get off the ship, and at Sitka I had to use a hired manual wheelchair to be able to use the tenders. Some places required advance warning of my needs but what really was far better than New Zealand was the availability of tour buses with hoists for wheelchairs at the back, where they could push a few rows of seats together to make space. We used these in Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage, and Vancouver (for a journey to Victoria including a ferry trip).  Then there was the real highlight, with a helicopter ride to the Taku Glacier. I boarded the helicopter using a special lifting seat. 

Really an eye opener as to what can be done if there is a will, supported by at least some legislation. It makes you wonder how much New Zealand is missing out on by failing to accommodate the traveller with mobility challenges. 

I also holiday most years in Paihia (NZ) and note that in 2013/14, 44 cruise liners called in, carrying 73,366 passengers and 32,695 crew. How many of those passengers had mobility issues and didn’t bother to come ashore? As passengers tend to be older people, perhaps 5% (close to 4000 people) had mobility issues and if their companions also stayed on the ship, that would be quite significant. Perhaps these figures are wrong because persons with disabilities merely avoid New Zealand entirely in favour of places where access is treated seriously and they are welcomed.  Wouldn’t it be great if we had shore experiences and tour buses that were accessible? We could even make the effort, advertise the fact and, if we get it right, see positive comments on social media.  Apart from tour buses, Paihia has ferries, boat trips, helicopter rides and even a train from Kawakawa. 

Follow on Twitter: @ccsdisabilitya

Yorkshire tourist attractions praised for accessibility

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Silver Travel Advisor logo from their website

A number of Yorkshire tourist attractions have been praised for being accessible to older travellers. The National Railway Museum, in York, RHS Garden Harlow Carr, near Harrogate, Fountains Abbey, near Ripon, Ampleforth Abbey, near Helmsley and Malton’s Eden Camp Museum, all received plaudits from Silver Travel Advisor which is a review and advice website for mature travellers.

Silver Travel Advisor managing director Debbie Marshall is very impressed with the level of consideration and detail that Yorkshire’s tourist attractions have gone to in order to accommodate older or less able guests.   “Many of them offer mobility scooters, lifts and ramps, and all the sites visited have gone to great lengths to ensure the comfort and welcome of the UK’s aging population” she said.

Silver Travel Advisor is a website run by a team of mature travel industry professionals.  Members can join for free and are invited to contribute to the site’s growing collection of impartial mature travel reviews, travel advice and travel tips – all written exclusively by and for mature travellers.

Follow on Twitter: @SilverTravelAd @Welcome2Yorks

Biggest tourism and travel spenders are the Baby Boomers

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Tourism Review (http://www.tourism-review.com/) recently carried out a survey of travel agencies and professionals in the tourism industry to get their opinions on changing trends with travel, consumer expectations, and booking.  They came up with seven important trends and their likely effects.  One of these was the fact that it is Baby Boomers – those in their late forties to mid sixties – who are the biggest spenders.  TR notes that for any tourism business, be they hotel, travel agency, or airline, it is crucial to keep up with trends in spending and technology in order to stay ahead of the competition and retain their evolving consumer base.  Businesses within the sector need to keep an eye on where their revenue is coming from.  Spending habits tend to be separated into generations and while agencies focus on attracting the youth market, they only account for 9% of travel expenditure in the last year.  It is the Baby Boomers spending the most, bringing in 60% of the revenue.

Follow on Twitter: @Tourism_Review

Tourism Business magazine NZ says Accessible Tourism increasingly important

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Senior tourist at Tekapo church New Zealand

Tourism Business magazine is New Zealand’s premier magazine for the tourism industry.  Edited by Annie Gray, it brings important news and tips to the industry every second month.  In the latest issue (Dec-Jan 13/14), a “Something to Ponder” article points out that Accessible Tourism is going to be increasingly important to the NZ tourism industry, and that businesses need to cater to the older demographic.  The proof, says the article, can be found in the results from the 2013 NZ Census.  In a snapshot about the age of NZ’s population, one of the most startling aspects is that people aged 50-69 make up more than 23% of the population and number nearly one million (up by 21.5% since the last 2006 census).  The article goes on to say that those aged 65-69 show the biggest increase (32%0, followed by those 60-64 years old (almost 30% increase).

Why does this mean the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry should improve access?  Because disability increases with age.  Not only that, but it is older generations who have the time and money to spend on tourism.  And, more than 40% of NZ’s international visitors are in the older (50+) age groups, with the fastest growth rate for international visitors occuring in the 60-69 year-old demographic.  According to NZ MED, this trend will continue.

Follow on Twitter: @tourismbusiness @MBIEgovtnz

Program to improve taxi accessibility first of its kind in Canada

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City of Vancouver taxis from the City website

Vancouver City mayor Gregor Robertson, the Vancouver Taxi Association and the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities have launched ‘Ask-Listen-Act’, a new form of enhanced taxi driver training involving seniors and people with disabilities. Robertson said the training will help make the taxi fleet more accessible and convenient for local seniors and people with disabilities. One in six people in BC has a disability and one in eight people in Vancouver is 65 years of age or older.   “From our new building code to enhanced investments in pedestrian safety, the City is committed to improving accessibility for everyone”, said Robertson.  ‘Ask-Listen-Act’ Enhanced Taxi Driver Training will provide Vancouver taxi drivers with extensive training to ensure customers with different types of disabilities are transported safely and respectfully. In development since April 2012, the program is created by the Vancouver Taxi Association, in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the BC Coalition of Disabilities, and involved consultation with several groups, including the City’s Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee, Seniors Advisory Committee, Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC (COSCO), Access for Sight-Impaired Consumers (ASIC), and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, among others.

‘Ask-Listen-Act’ will provide no-charge, specific training for taxi drivers when serving customers with a range of disabilities including those using mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. It also provides guidance for helping customers with developmental disabilities, customers who are blind or visually impaired, customers with guide or assistance dogs, and customers who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Follow on Twitter: @CityofVancouver @BCCPDHealth @VCHhealthcare

Accessibility Pass extended to needs of seniors

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Boomer couple from 50 plus Hellas website

ACCESSIBILITY PASS, the global certification scheme that classifies hotels’ accessibility level based on their infrastructure, services and personnel skills, is extending its scope to ensure that it addresses the accessibility needs of Senior Citizens. The Greek older people’s organization 50plus Hellas is contributing valuable input regarding particular aspects of the Senior Citizen arm of the scheme. 50plus Hellas is a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, which aims to improve the quality of life of those over 50 years of age in Greece. The ACCESSIBILITY PASS “Senior Citizen Friendly” certification is awarded to hotels successfully assessed for fulfilling the scheme’s related criteria.  Source: ENAT Twitter: @EUaccesstourism

VisitEngland and others write about the importance of the ageing market

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Picture of beach cabins on the front of the Visit England report

In a new publication on “Domestic Leisure Tourism Trends for the next Decade”, VisitEngland (England’s National Tourism Board) identifies 5 trends influencing domestic tourism in the next ten years.  The first on the list is demography, with a concurrent trend in the need for accessibility.  The report states that:

Changes in the population and demographic make-up of England over the next decade will have a transformative effect on society – and significant implications for consumers’ leisure choices. Common to many of the trends in this section is the changing shape of the family – something evident in the rising number of older people and grandparents’ increasing involvement in childcare, and also in the diverse structures and types of family. Overall, the population of England will grow, but this growth will not be spread evenly across age groups. There will be a very well understood trend is the growth in the number of older people and rise in the average age of the country – referred to as the ageing society. Not every section of society is growing; there will actually be a decline in the number of people aged 35-49 over the next few years, leading to a ‘squeezed middle’ generation. The medium term future will also see a rise in the number of younger people, as a result of a sustained rise in fertility rates since the mid 1990s – a baby boom.

The report goes on to say that the implications of these shifts on domestic leisure tourism will be profound. The rising number of older people not only signals a change in the needs of this particular group – there is an implication, for example, for all types of business to meet accessibility needs – but also a shift in their attitudes. The next retired generation will be heavily comprised of the baby boomer cohort, who differ greatly from previous older generations in their attitudes to leisure – they are generally more affluent and far more leisure focussed than previous generations of older people.  Businesses and destinations in the tourism market will need to adapt to cater for an increasing number of intergenerational family holidays.  The ageing population will intensify – in three decades time, there will be more than 9 million over 75s in England (twice as many as there are currently) making the importance of catering for both older and intergenerational groups a crucial implication for decades to come. The appetite for travel and tourism amongst the oldest groups in society is likely to increase over time (‘healthy life expectancy’ is increasing, as well as overall life expectancy), but
accommodation and travel options that can cater for people with reduced mobility will be in great demand.

Of course, an ageing society is not going to just affect English domestic tourism.  Access Tourism New Zealand has for a long time been publishing blogs about the need for the New Zealand tourism and travel sector to sit up and take notice of demographic trends.  New Zealand is getting older.  According to the 2013 NZ Census, the median age (half are younger, and half older, than this age) of the population continued to increase, reaching 38.0 years in 2013 compared with 35.9 years in 2006.  The number of people aged 50–69 years rose to 989,364, an increase of 21.5% since 2006. People in this age range made up 23.3% of the population in 2013, compared with 20.2% in 2006. The number of people aged 65 years and over continued to increase. In 2013, there were 607,032 people in this age group, making up 14.3% of the population. This was an increase from 12.3% of the population in 2006 and 12.1% in 2001.  Over 73,000 people were aged 85 years or over at the time of the 2013 Census. There was a 29.4% increase in this age group since 2006.

In the USA, Mark Bradbury (senior director, Insights and Integrated Marketing, AARP Media Sales) explain why 50+ travellers will rule the airways, railways and hotel hallways into 2014 and beyond.  According to Bradbury, the 50+ traveller is the lifeblood of the travel industry.  They are responsible for 48% of all vacation expenditures, up from 42% just five years ago—a trend that will continue as 50+ population growth outpaces that of 18-49 by a 3:1 margin over the next decade, according to the U.S. Census. People 50+ consider travel more of a necessity than a luxury, as evidenced by a post-recession increase of 25% in their travel spending. Since 2007, 50+ vacation spending is up nearly $20 million, compared to a $1.7 billion drop among 18-49. 50+ travellers spend 23% more on domestic vacations and 22% more on foreign vacations than younger travellers, and spend more high-end. With more time and money at their disposal, older Boomers eager for new experiences are growing the 60+ segment of the travel market. Since Boomers started turning 60 just seven years ago, the 60+ travel market has grown by 24%, or 3.6 million travellers.  Younger Boomers value gratification that can be realized today.  Boomers are at the core of several travel trends, including: ecotourism, adventure travel, medical tourism, multigenerational travel, passion/hobby vacations (that is, combining a vacation with a passion, such as biking, language learning, food, wine, etc.), and spiritual travel. They are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In summary, no one travels more than Boomers, and no age group is wealthier.

Worldwide, older people are also increasingly switched on to digital media.  In New Zealand 77% of those aged 55-64 are connected to the internet, 61% of those aged 65-74, and 32% of those 75+.

In other areas, SilverGroup reports that those 50+ comprise 35% of all travel and 80% of all cruises in the EC,  Japanese 50+ will comprise 80% of the total tourism dollar across key Asian Markets by 2015, and Chinese 50+ will comprise 39% of total overseas travel and 66% of spending this year (2014 – MasterCard Asia Pacific and ING).   By 2015, those 65+ will spend US$129bn on travel and leisure (SilverGroup).

For tips on travelling as a senior, visit Tourism Review.

@VisitEnglandBiz @VisitEngland @Tourism_Review @SilverGroup @StatisticsNZ

EC: Barrier-free travel: a win-win for society and EU tourism

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Wheelchair sign at a beac from the EC website

The European Commission Enterprise and Industry magazine reports that barrier-free travel is a win-win for society and EU tourism.  Making tourism more accessible is essential to the development of new markets and services that will help Europe’s tourism industry thrive. By making basic adjustments to facilities and information services, senior citizens and travellers with special access needs will promote equal opportunities, social inclusion, and boost the tourism industry.

Senior citizens and people with special needs have the desire and the right to travel like everyone else. However, their travel experiences are often restricted by physical barriers such as transportation constraints, inaccessible accommodation and tourism sites and a general lack of information.  Senior citizens are an essential element to the European tourism industry. Currently, more than 128 million Europeans are between 55 and 80 years old, and according to current demographic trends, this proportion is expected to increase. However, the potential for senior travel has not yet been fully exploited: Only 41 % of seniors between 55 and 75 currently travel.  Tourism authorities, as well as industry and senior organisations, are being encouraged to engage in a stronger public-private partnership. In this context, the Commission is preparing to launch an initiative, ‘Europe, the best destination for seniors’, which is designed to increase the flow of senior tourists, particularly during the low and medium seasons, between countries both inside and outside the EU.

According to the World Health Organization/World Bank, an estimated one billion people in the world live with disabilities. Together with their families, that means approximately a third of the world’s population is directly or indirectly affected by disability.  Many people have access needs, whether or not related to a physical condition (e.g. wheelchair users, visual, hearing impairment, allergies). For example, older and less mobile people or people with pushchairs have access needs, which can become a huge obstacle when going on holiday.  For those people, travelling can be a real challenge, as finding the information on accessible services, checking luggage on a plane, booking a room with special access needs often prove to be difficult, costly and time consuming.

In order to promote accessible tourism, the Commission this year (2013), dedicated European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) awards 2013 to locations that excel in accessible tourism.  Destinations in 19 countries were recognised for their efforts in developing accessible tourism offers.  In addition, barriers that restrict travel within or to Europe are being lifted. The EU boasts a comprehensive set of passenger rights which apply regardless of the transport used.

Follow on Twitter: @EU_enterprise

New Zealand still mostly ignores the important older-tourist market

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sam 028

There are some in New Zealand who recognize the importance of older people to New Zealand’s tourism industry.  For example, Professor Ian Yeoman (Victoria University Wellington) noted at the recent New Zealand HAPNZ holiday parks conference that wealth and power is now in the hands of senior citizens (Inside Tourism 937/11/7/13). Yeoman also talked about the importance of extended family holidaying, saying that today, grandparents have more contact with their grandchildren than in the past. “Grandparents are extremely important to society. They are spending three times as much time with their grandchildren than grandparents did 40 years ago because they are living longer and are wealthier, and are caregivers because both parents are working”.  This often means that it is grandparents who actually take their grandchildren on holiday.  AA Tourism CEO Moira Penman notes that  “empty nesters” tend to have more disposable income and more time up their sleeves after their children leave home and many are keen to try new experiences.  “Health and fitness is also high on their radar, so activity-based holidays are attractive amongst this demographic,” said Penman.   “Many tourism operators have already recognized this interest and have tailored more active holiday packages and products to this age group and we can only encourage this positive approach.”  In addition, says Penman, New Zealanders in older age groups are exploring more domestic holiday destinations and  22% planned on travelling somewhere new in 2013, compared with only 15% in 2012.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand tourism industry in general still maintains disproportionate focus on the youth market.  For example, Tourism New Zealand (TNZ – the official marketer of New Zealand) has had a lot of projects recently targeting youth.  In fact, the youth market is one of five sector markets on the TNZ website (the others being Film and Hobbit, Business Events, Cruise Sector, and Rugby World Cup), and there is also a dedicated Youth Market team at TNZ .  However, there is no such dedicated team for older visitors in spite of the fact that the most recent data available (for October 2013) shows that 46% of visitors to New Zealand where aged 45 or older.  This negelect is also in spite of the fact that TNZ GM tourism operations Paul Yeo thinks the older market segment will grow.   Active boomers are a “distinct segment that we believe will grow and as people remain healthy and wealthy then there will be plenty of 80 year old bungy jumpers and skydivers and it is a segment we really think and hope will continue to grow,” Yeo told the Great Adventure conference in Wellington recently.  Why no dedicated team for older visitors?

Certainly, other countries have not been neglecting the older age bracket.  The Australians, for example, have been aware of demographic issues affecting their tourism industry for some time.  Like many Western countries, the Australian population is ageing. It is predicted that by 2050 around a quarter of the population in Australia will be over 65 years because the large Baby Boomer segment, declining fertility rates, ageing families, and increasing life expectancies.  The way Baby Boomers “use their time and money when they retire will affect the domestic tourism industry and their choice to travel domestically, internationally or not to travel at all is an important consideration for the industry”, states a recent Tourism Australia report.  The report goes on to describe how Gen X and Boomer Australians spent the most on tourism per capita between 2000 and 2006, and gives other analyses by age group.

And of course, when considering the older market, attention must be paid to access in tourism, travel, and hospitality, because disability increases with age.  While the New Zealand pays little attention to the older visitor market, it pays almost none to the huge market of people with disabilities.  Compare that to Australia, where  regionally, the State of Victoria has encourages accessible tourism by issuing an Accessible Business Toolkit for tourism businesses, Queensland and New South Wales have also worked on improving tourism access, and Western Australia and other states have  Access Tourism Strategies.  We have none.

Accessible Tourism round table at World Travel Market

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Wheelchair being pushed in a Spanish street

The World Travel Market (WTM) is a 35-year-old leading global business-to-business event with presentations and exhibitions for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.  It is attended by almost 48,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press in London every November. WTM 2012 generated £1,860 million of travel industry contracts. WTM also runs a number of other business-to-business events covering all elements of travel and tourism.  At this year’s Travel and Technology Show, a round table was held on Accessible Travel and Responsible Travel.  The event featured an in-depth and informed discussion as eight experts from both business arenas gathered to discuss the markets.

Ataxia South Wales Chairman Alan Thomas said the UK’s estimated 10.6 million disabled people have a combined annual spend on goods and services of up to £80 billion, adding: “It is a big market out there. What’s the travel industry doing about it? In a word, nothing.”  According to a UK Government report (2012 Legacy for Disabled People, Inclusive and Accessible Business Travel), businesses failing to take into account this market are missing out on up to £80 billion of potential spend. Thomas said the problems start as soon as he tries to book a holiday as many people in the industry see his wheelchair rather than the human being using it, leaving agents too embarrassed to deal with. Enable Holidays Managing Director Lynne Kirby said such problems are endemic in a trade which has failed to educate staff how best to handle disabled people. She said: “Disabled customers have gone in to a shop and everybody disappears and I have to say hand on heart it is still happening” But Kirby believes the solution is simple, adding: “It is about getting the right information but the travel industry doesn’t know the questions to ask” Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes added if the market is to be adequately served, it must be all encompassing: “Accessible travel is the only type of travel that has implications from the moment of departure from home to the moment of return.” However, Virgin Atlantic Passenger Disability Adviser Geraldine Lundy said the trade would need to go even further to meet the market’s needs, adding: “It is even before they (disabled travelers) leave home. It is when they’re thinking about the holiday and booking it. It is about getting the information about where they want to go.” Lundy said the information needs to be accurate to allow disabled people to make informed decisions. She added it must also take in to account that some disabled people are blind or have learning difficulties and will need the information presented in a different way. Sinclair-Barnes added as the Baby Boomers enter old age and face increasing health problems, the industry must take action. “It (accessible travel) is a growing market. I’ve found it quite astonishing how little (product) there is.”

Source: WTM

Ataxia South Wales @AlanROYGBIV Enable Holidays @enableholidays Amadeus Director of Marketing Rob Sinclair-Barnes @AmadeusITGroup Virgin Atlantic @VirginAtlantic

Euro travel forum looks at seniors coach tourism

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Tour bus

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) will hold the 8th European Bus and Coach Forum on theme of “European group tourism by coach: Driving seniors and out of season tourism. The forum will take place in Kortrijk, Belgium on 17 October.  The first interactive panel debate on the “Current situation, market potential, and opportunities” will be led by Alain Libéros, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission, DG Enterprise and Industry, Tourism Policy.  It will  feature a keynote address by Eszter Ruga, project officer, ’’Healtour 2011” EU Calypso project on research into seniors’ travel specificity, their expectations, and information about this market.  The second panel will discuss practical problems and solutions to “bring seniors on board”.

The ageing of the worlds population is a tourism megatrend

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Japanese senior citizens

An Australian report “Our Future World: Global Megatrends that will Change the way we Live” has been released by The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).  The global foresights project reports on six megatrends or collection of trends, patterns of economic, social or environmental activity that will change the way people live and the science and technology products they demand.  The six interrelated megatrends identified are: limited global resources, environment destruction, the rise of Asia, an increase in internet connectivity, the rise of social relationships and experiences over products, and the ageing population.  In regard to the later megatrend, the report points out that Australia and many other countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have an ageing population.

In fact, the whole world is getting older.  In 1950 8% of the world’s people were over 65 years old. This grew to 11.2% by 2011 and is forecast to reach 22% by 2050, when the world will have more than 2 billion people over the age of 60 years. The extent of ageing is less pronounced in developing countries where 9% of the population is over 60 years old today and this is forecast to grow to 20% 2050.  In contrast, populations in developed countries are ageing faster.  In Australia for example – which is an important tourism market for New Zealand – demographic forecasts by the Bureau of Statistics show that in 2011 14% of the population was aged 65 years and over; by 2056 this proportion is predicted to be 23-25%.   Over the same time period the median age will rise from 37 years to between 41.0 and 45.2 years.   In Japan – another important tourism market for New Zealand – the ageing population is even more pronounced.  Japan has the fastest speed of ageing amongst the world’s countries. In 1950 4.5% of the population was over 70 years old. By 2010 it was 23%. Currently, one quarter of Japan’s population is 65 or older. By 2050 it will be 40%.

Another CSIRO report on tourism for the government of Queensland (Hajkowicz, S., in preparation: The future of tourism in Queensland: Global megatrends creating opportunities and challenges over the coming twenty years) predicts a growth in seniors travel.  It notes the importance of the ageing population on tourism and that the older traveller must be understood.  For example, retirees tend to have relatively long trips at relatively low spend-per-day, a relatively high proportion stay in caravan parks and camp grounds, and they are more likely to undertake cultural and heritage activities, increasingly eat out, and visit local attractions, as well as visiting friends and relatives. However, this is not a homogenous demographic.  Many want higher comfort levels and quality of service.   This tourism megatrends document will form a basis for the upcoming Global Eco2012 Conference in Noosa, Queensland in November.

As Access Tourism New Zealand has pointed out before (most recently, 28 August, but also 16 August, 4 July, and many many more articles that can be accessed by searching for “Ageing”),  tourism in New Zealand must not continue to ignore in its policy and in its promotion campaigns the ageing trend in terms of trying to attracting visitors to our shores.

Greek Ministry of Tourism strategizes to attract more senior visitors

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Parthenon Greece

The Greek Ministry of Culture and Tourism is planning to launch a strategy to attract more senior tourists to the country, reports GTP.   A study conducted by the Research Institute for Tourism (ITEP) found that senior tourism could develop into an essential factor for the lengthening of the tourism season in Greece, because most seniors are not constrained by having to return home to employment. The study showed that by 2030, senior tourists will constitute 24 percent of the international tourism market.  Greek tourism minister Olga Kefalogianni said a targeted communication campaign would be planned to attract senior tourists to Greece.  “The increase of senior tourism (in Greece) is a strategic objective,” she said.  ITEP’s research showed that tourists over the age of 55 are less interested in taking a vacation for swimming and sunbathing; cultural tourism was more popular for seniors, especially for holiday-goers from Austria (26 percent), The Netherlands (22 percent), Belgium (22 percent) and Germany (21 percent).

As part of the campaign, Greek tourism enterprises will promote their services at the upcoming Swedish tourism fair Senior,  the biggest fair in the country for an active older audience.   Senior will take place 15-17 October 2013 at the Stockholmsmassan exhibition center. In its 19th year, last year’s fair attracted 139 exhibitors and some 10,200 visitors.

Why Baby Boomers are being sold short: NZ Listener article

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Front cover of the Listener magazine for August 31 to September 6 2013 showing faceless Baby Boomers

This week’s New Zealand Listener magazine cover story is about how business in this country neglects Baby Boomers to their peril.  Karl du Fresne writes that Boomers are a huge demographic controlling most of the disposable income who are largely ignored.  Older consumers are 32% of our population but control an estimated 65% of disposable income but attract only 10% of of advertising spending.  Doug Lloyd at AUT University’s communications school says that this is because agencies and marketers are dominated by people under 40.  “While the baby-boomer generation spends up large on new cars, travel, technology, financial services, healthcare, and dining out, advertising agencies and marketing managers still seem to equate age with Viagara and Zimmer frames” writes du Fresne.  The phenomenon was noted in “The business of Ageing”, a 2011 Ministry of Social Development report which warned that businesses who ignore Boomers will find their markets shrinking.  Other reports – such as that by Neilsen for the Hope Foundation for Research on Ageing –  have warned of the consequences of ignoring the Boomer market.  Many a blog on this website (Access Tourism NZ) has over the years tried to bring the attention of the NZ tourism, travel, and hospitality industry to the fact that by ignoring Boomers, seniors (and people with disabilities), the industry is ignoring a lucrative market (the latest such article, 12 days ago). An indication of this lack of interest in older visitors to NZ can be seen, for example, in the promotional photographs in the image library used by the 100% Pure NZ website (the official Tourism NZ website).  A quick survey of these photographs shows that fewer than 5% include models who appear to be over 45 years of age acting as visitors.  This is in spite of the fact that the number of older visitors to New Zealand is on the rise, and that currently 43% are 45 or older.

Former NZ Herald editor-in-chief Gavin Ellis (now a media researcher) pointed out to du Fresne that ignoring Boomers is counter-intuitive, and that “younger people now, particularly the under-25s, are finding it very hard to get high-paying jobs…..their disposable income is probably less that it has been in the past”.  Richard Poole, co-founder of GrownUps, an ezine aimed at the mature, internet-savvy demographic says this group should be even more attractive to advertisers because people aged 46-65 are often influential across four generations. “As well as making their own spending decisions, they might be choosing a retirement home for their octogenarian parents, advising their adult children on their first home purchase, and opening KiwiSaver accounts for their grandchildren”

The Listener article also presented the following facts about New Zealanders 50 years old or older:

  • More than 100 New Zealanders a day turn 50
  • They spend 16% per person more than younger New Zealanders
  • They buy 80% of new premium car purchases
  • 30% are internet users (more than in the 4049 age group)
  • By 2031 there will be over 1 million aged 65 or older
  • By 2051 consumer spending by older people could increase from $11 billion currently to $45 billion
  • Their spending on food and entertainment is expected to increase fourfold

American Baby Boomers travel habits

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 Boomers looking at a museum exhibit

Recently, Lab42 carried out a survey of 500 IT-using American Baby Boomers planning a holiday in 2013.  American Boomers outspend other generations by $400 billion every year on consumer goods & services, and have an average annual disposable income of $24,000.   In addition, Americans aged 50+ account for 80% of all luxury travel spending (Kempfer).  The survey revealed that:

  • 51% planned their vacation with no overall budget in mind
  • 44% planned to travel with family, 31% with a partner, 9% with friends, and 10% alone
  • 41% want to stay/sleep comfortably and would spend less in other areas, 34% do not consider accommodation costs, and 25% are willing to stay/sleep less comfortably in order to spend more in other areas
  • 44% say that personal safety is an extremely important consideration
  • 78% used at least one website to plan their vacation, 61% would take a Smartphone, and 64% would take a laptop (Lab42)

Twitter: @Lab42Research @andreakempfer