Older tourists are fit, independent and happy with improving food and hygiene
The tourism industry is experiencing a new type of traveller as ever-increasing numbers of older and retired people journey from Europe and North America to Asia in search of new and enriching life experiences. Typical visitors to India, China, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and so on are no longer budget backpackers, but wealthier tourists over the age of 55 who have saved for their older years. And it is far more likely that this segment will need agent assistance than the intrepid backpacker.
These tourists prefer an itinerary full of culture and history. Many are relatively fit and are happy to take on challenging travel. They also enjoy independent travel rather than roaming about in coaches. Travel professionals say that senior tourists are encouraged to travel to Asia because of improving food and hygiene standards at hotels. Locals in Asia tend to be gentle and respectful towards older people.
It is hard to find comparable statistics, but from the UK for example 103,000 people aged between 55 and 64 travelled to India in 2009 and 51,000 others went to China. The owner of a London-based agency, who reports that more than half of his clients are over 50, says: “I started my company to take young professionals abroad for adventurous holidays, but then realised I was getting lots of calls from their parents.”
Now that China is seeing a surge in interest, Middle Eastern countries such as Oman and Syria could be next.
[pictured: Gelanggang Seni – Kelantan; courtesy Tourism Malaysia]