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Why social tourism should be funded in the United Kingdom? - An analysis of social tourism and its benefits to the elderly

Why social tourism should be funded in the United Kingdom? - An analysis of social tourism and its benefits to the elderly
Author: Tom Disney
1 Commentries
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate why social tourism should be financed in the United Kingdom. The paper will focus on social tourism for the elderly who are an increasing segment of the population.

Social Tourism, Elderly, UK Government, Change, Good Practise.

Main Body
According to Minnaert, Diekmann and McCabe, (2012) social tourism is defined as “all activities, relationships, and phenomena in the field of tourism resulting from the inclusion of otherwise disadvantaged and excluded groups in participation in tourism. The inclusion of these groups in tourism is made possible through financial or other interventions of a well-defined and social nature.”

With a growing knowledge of its benefits, social tourism is becoming an increasingly prominent field of research within the tourist business. This knowledge adds to the argument for why social tourism should be supported and developed by the UK government.

According to Cole and Morgan (2010), tourism as a method of alleviating socioeconomic hardship is still regarded unusual in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In mainland Europe, public funds are utilised to assist and co-fund social tourism activities, either through direct grants or public-private partnerships. In the United Kingdom, social tourism is mostly reliant on the charity sector.

The United Kingdom's population is increasingly ageing. Spending on adult social care has risen considerably in recent years, with £26.0 billion being spent in 2020/21. Long-term health problems are common among the elderly, accounting for 70% of total health and social care spending in England.

Social tourism is believed to have strong links to quality of life, health, stress reduction, an active lifestyle, and a healthy way of living. Social tourism was found to reduce marginalisation and poor self-esteem. It also stimulated re-engagement with physical exercise and social connection. According to studies, social tourism can improve the health and wellbeing of older people as well as their work-retirement transition.

IMSERSO is a government-funded holiday programme for the elderly in Spain. Seniors in Spain can take advantage of lower-cost holidays during the off-peak season. Each year, IMSERSO creates or maintains around 13,00 direct hotel jobs and 80,000 indirect low-season jobs in the regions most affected by seasonality (ISTO, 2017). The activities created under this programme improve the health and quality of life of senior citizens while also having a social and welfare influence on those who receive them. In addition, the number of visits to medical centres and the amount of medication used has dropped.

Several IMSERSO concepts can be applied to social tourism in the United Kingdom. Off-peak seasons would benefit both the elderly participants and local businesses if sponsored tourism was made available to some of the UK's most popular tourist locations. Social tourism provides possibilities for a more active physical and mental lifestyle, which, when paired with the benefits of social contact, improves mental and physical health.

INATEL is Portugal's first tourism programme that mix treatments with cultural and recreational activities. Its main objectives are to increase the quality of life and well-being of seniors while also encouraging low-income seniors to participate in a range of activities. Participants have broader access to the programme since it is less expensive, due to a 50% reimbursement from the Portuguese government. For many senior adults, this is one of the few occasions to attend a thermal spa, which helps to improve their health and quality of life.

The INATEL Foundation has a number of key principles that can aid in the growth of social tourism in the United Kingdom. It is critical to carefully assess the kind of tourist activities included in a UK programme in order to focus on the various requirements of participants as well as the program's social and health aims. It is critical that the programmes produced are diversified in order to guarantee that all older participants are fully included.

The United Kingdom's approach to social tourism is split, with the charity sector providing financing and services. Its benefits might be realised by shifting to a more European orientation, with social tourism supported and co-funded by public funds. Some of the good practises mentioned in this paper should be implemented by the United Kingdom.

Clear objectives in terms of the health and social benefits of programmes to participants and the economic benefit to local communities should both be considered. The aim must be to offer full inclusivity of opportunity to all eligible members of society regardless of their health, financial status, location, and ethnicity.

All social tourism programmes discussed, improved the quality of life and health of the elderly participants, resulting in reduced demand for social and health care. The programmes also benefited the local economies by creating low season employment opportunities and sources of income.

Reference List

Cole, S. and Morgan, N. (2010). Tourism and inequality : problems and prospects. Wallingford, Oxfordshire ; Cambridge, Ma: Cabi.

ISTO. (2017) Tourism in actions 20 examples of social policies & programmes around the world. International Social Tourism Organisation. Available from: https://www.isto.international/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/EN_Tourism-in-actions-20-examples-of-social-policies-programmes-around-the-world.pdf

Minnaert, L., Diekmann, A. and Mccabe, S. (2012). Social tourism in Europe: theory and practice. Bristol, UK; Buffalo, Ny: Channel View Publications.
Author: Jess Major
The purpose of the discussion paper I have selected to provide commentary in is focused around why social tourism should be funded in the United Kingdom and an analysis of social tourism and its benefits to the elderly. This paper falls under strand 2, which is the focus of constraint, towards breaking down barriers to tourism participation: strategies and good practices. The author has recognized and highlighted the key issues, which the elderly face in regards to tourism for example, the amount in which health and social care costs them which the author has identified as 70% of their spending and in addition to this the importance of tourism and the benefits, which come hand in hand. The author has also highlighted the significance which social tourism holds as well as also using a case study to show the direct affects which social tourism has on the elderly. The author has used academic sources to back up their arguments and also gave a background on what social tourism is and provides a strong and in depth, description of INATEL in Portugal, which is a social tourism concept, aimed towards the elderly generation. With this, the author has identified some key backgrounds on the chosen topic, however, more research is needed to help identify more examples of places, which offer this and should also aim to add future developments, which could be put in place especially within the UK.
The author used a reference from 2012 however, a more updated alternative could have been cto Jablonska et al (2016) journal called ‘Social Tourism, its clients and perspectives’ which is only 6 years old and offers a slightly different perspective. The chosen strand is all about breaking down the barriers and strategies for this. The author has stated the facts behind the barriers and mentioned the social tourism concept and INATEL example as a way in which this is down. However, no recommendations have been provided as to what the author thinks should be done so there is no personal perspective. Overall, the paper is an interesting read, the case study focus was an important section, however it would have been nice for a few personal opinions and recommendations as well.

Jablonska, J., Jaremko, M., and Tim?ák, G. (2016) Social Tourism, its clients and perspectives, Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 7(3), 42-52. Available from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303094732_Social_Tourism_Its_Clients_and_Perspectives#read [accessed 30 June 2022].