The popular stereotype would have you believe that younger people are all heading off to foreign climes in search of fun and adventure while the older generation are content to stay at home. In reality, the facts and figures don’t support this preconception. More than a third of holidays are taken by over 50s and they’re spending more on each trip than their younger counterparts.
Seniors are also getting more adventurous. The rise of the so called grey gappers has seen a steep increase in older travellers heading for far-flung backpackers’ favourites such as Thailand.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “We’ve seen a rise in the number of over-50s booking trips to far-flung destinations once their children have left home and an increase in long-duration holidays, with some booking 21- and 42-night packages. It seems that travelling the world is no longer reserved for school leavers or college students.”
Not every older traveller is heading for the backpacker trail however and destinations like France, Spain and Portugal remain popular. Whatever the destination, the facilities valued by older travellers often differ from those required by a younger demographic. This could extend to local cultural attractions and available excursions but will also often involve health and mobility considerations.
Older travellers with mobility issues may have specific requirements regarding their sleeping area, bathroom and toilet. Walk in baths and easy-access showers can be paramount for some travellers to be able to attend their bathing and hygiene needs independently. Bed heights and accessibility can also be important. Older tourists often appreciate assistance with tasks such as carrying bags and staff who can provide good local information.
Basic accessibility in and around the accommodation are also important. The International Symbol of Access (ISA) features a picture of a wheelchair but it gives a good indication of levels of accessibility for anyone with mobility issues, not just wheelchair users.
Entrances should be fully accessible and, where ground floor accommodation is not available, safe and reliable lifts should be provided. This can extend beyond just the holidaymaker’s rooms. If a restaurant, cafe or entertainment facility is located elsewhere in the building, it should be just as accessible.