Greece must take immediate actions to create the conditions that will allow silver tourism to expand if it hopes to tap into the growing market, according to a conference on the subject held at this year’s Philoxenia tourism show in Thessaloniki over the weekend.
Titled “Tourism 55+: Driver for the Extension of the Tourism Season”, the conference brought together experts and tourism stakeholders who exchanged knowhow and views on ways that Greece can benefit from senior travelers.
Besides the fine weather all year round and the vast array of low-cost accommodation facilities countrywide, other favorable conditions include the Mediterranean diet, Greece’s large network of thermal springs, and the sea.
Delegates did however underline that it is vital action be taken immediately if Greece wants to tap into senior travel as competition is strong particularly from rivals Spain and Portugal, which are already catering to a large percentage of senior travelers.
According to data presented at the Philoxenia event by Stella Tsartsara, Gerontologist and senior tourism expert, there are currently three categories in this particular travel segment:
-The 55-65s – which includes travelers who are still in the work force and in good health, seeking relaxation and rest,
-The 65-70s – made up of retirees, many of whom in declining health seeking new experiences and medical tourism options,
-The 70-85s – consisting of older travelers with health problems who need special travel packages.
Delegates attending the conference stressed the need to develop products and package tours that can meet the needs of these three categories, with emphasis on the last, as options there are few not only in Greece but Europe-wide, and these involve ensuring accessibility.
According to other conference findings, the average senior holidaymaker is an experienced traveler, with plenty of leisure time, flexibility and spending power, who demands higher quality services, may have health issues, and is not interested in experiences as much as in security, which means practical accommodation facilities and available medical care.
In the meantime, Fraport Greece data on Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport presented during the conference indicates a 5.2 percent rise, or an additional 288,000 passengers, in the first 10 months of 2018, compared to the same period last year. Passengers in the 55+ category account for approximately 14-15 percent of total airport traffic.
The 55+ Silver Tourism conference was jointly organized by the Hellenic Federation of Hotels (POX), with the support of the European Federation of Tourist Guide Association (FEG) and the European Network of Accessible Tourism.
The Greek Travel Pages (GTP) was a media sponsor of the 34th international Philoxenia tourism exhibition.