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New ITEP Study Focuses on Seniors

New ITEP Study Focuses on SeniorsProspects for travel by seniors to Greece is more than optimistic, said the head of the Research Institiute for Toruism (ITEP), Professor Panagiotis Pavlopoulos, during the recent presentation of the institute’s latest study. He said seniors are increasing in numbers as a percentage of the world’s traveling population, they have free time for travel all year around, and they have money to spend. These travelers are also culture minded. “What better destination for senior travelers than Greece?”

Georgios Katsos, the author of the study “Tourism for Seniors,” said on the presentation of the study that in 2000 one in every four European tourists that arrived in Greece was a senior and that these guests spent more money than the average traveler. These numbers have nowhere to go but up, he said.

This certainly is not new information to tourism professionals or to the state, he said, but perhaps they do not realize how many seniors there are in the world or how much money they spend on travel. His study emphasizes the importance of senior travel, to Greece especially, and projects numerous proposals on how the private sector, but particularly the public sector, can take advantage of this increasing swell of travelers.

The major concerns of senior travelers, he said, center on health (good doctors and hospitals), safety and the quality of the complete range of tourism products, particularly those outside of the hotel.

With the above in mind, Mr. Katsos said that Greece has not kept up with its Mediterranean competitors in initiating policies that would entice seniors to travel to Greece. “It is imperative that Greece plan and implement a concise, complete and long-term policy that would ensure the increase (and not just holding arrivals at present numbers) in the number of seniors traveling to Greece.”

He added that it’s not just the additional 20% more than the average tourist that they spend. Nor that they arrive during off-season periods. Seniors, he said, rarely spread communicable diseases, rarely create problems within the daily life of the Greek people, and for the most part insist on local food products and local foods, not imported products.

For the private sector, Mr. Katsos suggests that any company interested in senior travel must concentrate on being a pioneer in quality services so as to ensure the senior is fully satisfied with his holiday. Being a pioneer would include the use of modern technology to improve quality of services and the creation of new services (athletic events for seniors) that would give more to a product and better service the senior.

For government, the author of the study has written almost an entire chapter full of suggestions. These include cooperation with regional authorities so as to improve transportation and health services outside of major cities and quality inspections of establishments, especially those that have anything to do with food products.

And within the educational system, he suggests the training of individuals for services to seniors, which includes “a personal touch” during travel and overnights. Advertising should center on cultural aspects and be ‘informative ads’ as against ‘persuasive ads’ used for sun, sea and sand promotion.

Mr. Katsos added that one of the prime ‘draw cards’ for senior travel to Greece would be the creation of theme parks of scientific and cultural interest.

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