Only 9.7 percent of hotels in Greece offer specialized services for silver tourists
Silver tourism has been rapidly growing in Europe, with the percentage of travelers over the age of 65 expected to increase from 15 percent in 2010 to 25 percent in 2020 and 35 percent in 2050, according to a study carried out by Athens-based research firm diaNEOsis.
The study was presented on Friday during a panel discussion titled, “The silver economy: An opportunity for Greece?”, at the Delphi Economic Forum 2019, which is currently taking place in Delphi, central Greece.
“World population is ageing, life-expectancy is increasing and senior citizens have better health, and therefore more opportunities to travel after their retirement,” said Yannis Tountas, professor at the Medical School of Athens University and coordinator of the study, during the event.
“Greece in particular has the potential of attracting 100,000 health travelers that would generate revenues of 400 million euros on an annual basis but, in order to achieve that, the country has to further develop health tourism and its three segments – medical tourism, spa and wellness tourism,” Tountas added.
According to diaNEOsis, senior travelers are divided into two categories: Those who go on short holidays, and those who rent or buy a secondary residence in their preferred destination and therefor travel for longer periods.
“Today, 7.3 percent of adults in Europe is thinking of moving to a destination in southern Europe after retiring, which means that demand for vacation homes will reach 2.7 million in the next 20 years,” Tountas said.
Silver tourism still underdeveloped in Greece
While many European countries – such as Portugal, Italy and Spain – have adjusted their tourism product to the needs of senior citizens, only 9.7 percent of hotels in Greece offer specialized services for silver tourists, while tour operators have not developed products for senior travelers, the study reveals.
“Greece is lagging behind in terms of accessibility, transportation and [infrastructure] safety which are essential requirements for the development of silver tourism,” Tountas underlined also adding that the country’s health system has been a discouraging factor for senior citizens.
However, Greece does in fact have the potential of becoming a leading destination for silver tourists. “Greece doesn’t need to make costly investments in order to develop silver tourism. It has the infrastructure, the human resources and the hotel capacity to move forward,” said Aristos Doxiadis Partner at BigPi Ventures and co-author of the study.
In addition, the country could tap into the vast potential of spa tourism through its thermal springs, improve its medical services and further develop wellness tourism and specific services that aim to improve health such as meditation, sports and nutrition.
The Greek Tourism Ministry is working towards that direction with the licensing of more thermal springs in Greece and the development of synergies between the private and the public sector in the field of medical tourism.
The Delphi Economic Forum 2019 will close its doors on Sunday, March 3.