The world has recognised the indispensable reality of increasing numbers of people with disabilities in our future as world’s population is ageing and this generation has a higher risk of becoming disabled. The profiles of tourists and their preferences are becoming gradually fragmented, simultaneously, the competitiveness of a destination will depend on the ability to produce and market tourism services to an ageing, however, multi-ethnic population.
Key Words: Older generation, tourism, accessibility, disabilities, transformation, tour operators
The portrayal of old age is difficult to comprehend, since the definition is individually created. Simultaneously, what is considered as being disabled is still currently a complex social dilemma. Still, challenges that people with disabilities are facing every day are first and foremost caused by barriers in accessing services which for others would be self-evident. By recognising the needs of this group, could provide people with disabilities a life with lesser limitations (Akinci and Kasalak, 2016), as leisure and recreation are acclaimed as peoples right. Therefore, tourism should also be accessible for those who have limitations.
When trying to place which tourism services should be provided for older generation, age should not be the determining fact to categorise which form of travel should be targeted for each age group, whereas the considerations should go through socio-demographic combinations related to the stage of life. Similarly, another approach to explain the behaviour of this generation could be the lifecycle theory, since the travel behaviour is depending on the levels of income, availability of time and state of health (Alen et al., 2017).
The part of this generation that is capable to travel without political or economic restrictions is assimilated as demanding, while it is natural for physical and mental disabilities to appear while ageing (Akinci and Kasalak, 2016). Furthermore, the stereotypes promoted by tourism advertisers have left suspicion and negative attitudes towards tourism practitioners from this age group. Older generation is ignored in marketing and often confuse older people as helpless, weak and confused, whereas this generation clearly advocate that prevailing impressions should be knowledgeable, capable and motivated. Again, older people have a higher risk of getting infected by a disease while traveling and are more exposed to serious consequences while infectious.
Tourism practitioners are aware of the growing interest of this group towards more adventurous and physically challenging forms of tourism activities that are consistently targeted towards younger generations. Still individuals with disabilities and the older generation have same motivations to travel (Zsarnocsky, 2017). Tourism industry is often labelled as an untrained, low-paid and disorganised economic sector. As a result, it is difficult for practitioners to create these activities available for older individuals with disabilities since lack of comprehensive training and information on how to operate in such situations. At the same time, there is no standard for such service and the accessibility service varies from destination to another, especially cultural perspectives standout greatly from nation to another.
At its best, tourism industry functions as a nurturing power towards socio-cultural factors of people empowering minority groups such as women and disabled communities. Correspondingly, a study from Spain proves that the ones from the ageing society who pursuits tourism activities are healthier and more active than the ones who do not. Current tourism research has proven the benefits of leisure for health and overall well-being. If tourism activities would be available for the majority of people with disabilities, leisure could accelerate the recovery and rehabilitation process. The markets of modern tourism industry are characterised by increasing amount of competitive destinations battling for consumers. Instead of trying to provide tourists something extraordinary, why tourist practitioners are not providing something that is actually meeting the customer needs?
However, in the past, negative attitudes towards the participation of disabled people towards tourism activities have framed the development process. At the same time, withdrawing from a participation can result into a sense of self-abasement, dissatisfaction and reduced self-confidence. General attitudes towards the senior travellers, influence the service outcome. However, by receiving knowledge about ageing, changes the willingness to serve senior tourists, furthermore, interaction with elderly heaves a successful outcome.
Evidence shows that baby boomers and silent generation both prefer to approach traveling plans via tour operators and travel agencies. The elder group under the disabled category branch is also more willing to pay a premier price for quality service. Tour operators could transform their services to greet the new generation of old people, and this generation could be the doorway for the organisations to develop tourism products available for people with limitations.
Logically, discovering the travel preferences of the new generation of old people and developing tourism destinations to meet their needs, could be beneficial to both, tourism practitioners and the generation. This group has flexible seasonal adjustment considering that most of the individuals are retired and outside the labour market, which is why it is an appealing market segment.
Akinci, Z. and Kasala, M. A. (2016) Are Travel Agencies Ready for Accessible Tourism in Turkey? The Tendencies and Expectations of Travel Agencies as Supply Side of Accessible Tourism in Turkey. Journal of Business and Hotel Management, 3(1).
Alen, E., Losada, N. and Carlos, P. (2017) Understanding tourist behaviour of senior citizens: lifecycle theory, continuity theory and a generational approach. Ageing and Society, 37 1338-1361.
Zsarnoczky, M. (2017) Accessible Tourism in European Union. CERS Central European Conference in Regional Science.