Senior tourism

Senior tourism is growing exponentially in the world

Population ageing, coupled with socio-economic changes, has led to exponential growth in senior tourism, also called “silver tourism”.

Although this type of tourism is growing  fast, the tourism industry does not always meet its specific demands. For example, senior tourists often want to travel within the same age group, and they tend to value health tourism as well as tours requiring less physical intensity than regular tours.

Key figures on population ageing

The current population ageing is a demographic phenomenon without precedent in the history of humankind. The aged population is currently at its highest level in human history and will continue to grow at an accelerated pace in the coming decades. This phenomenon, due to declining fertility rates and increasing life expectancy is particularly widespread in the developed countries and in China. It has far reaching consequences which are reshaping the tourism industry as we know it.

12 % of the world population will be over 65 by 2030.

1 billion people in the world will be over 65 by 2030.

The life expectancy to be reached by 2030 is 72 years old.

Senior tourism in China

As in the rest of the world, senior tourism in China is quickly developing due to population ageing and increasing standards of living. Besides, western values of self-enjoyment are spreading fast among Chinese seniors, who want to travel and discover both China and the rest of the world.

The younger generations of Chinese seniors are more and more educated and independent as well as wealthier. Studies show that they increasingly tend to choose tourism packages specifically designed for seniors.

241 million senior citizens (aged over 60) in China in 2018.

130 million outbound trips of Chinese people in 2017.

7% is the annual growth rate of outbound trips of Chinese citizens between 2016 and 2017.

Universities of the third age (U3As) – key movers of senior tourism

The University of the Third Age is an international movement whose aims are the education and stimulation of mainly retired members of the community – those in their “third age” of life. It is commonly referred to as U3A.

There are U3As on all continents, providing various educational, artistic and other activities to about 10 million senior citizens around the world. Their students have a taste for and a culture of participation in study tours.

Most U3As organize trips for their senior students, be it locally or internationally. Nowadays more and more students are eager not only to travel with their senior classmates but also to stay and study for some time in foreign U3As in order to have a meaningful experience abroad. There is a growing demand from senior students to have the possibility to travel the world within their U3A community.

U3As have advanced knowledge of senior tourists’ tastes and expectations, and they are seeking to discover new destinations for study tours and find providers who can satisfy the specific needs of senior travellers.

The International Association of Universities of the Third Ages (AIUTA) is one of the key partners of the World Senior Tourism Congress.