The growth of the global senior population is bringing new opportunities for the tourism community, which is emerging as one of the biggest beneficiaries of this fast growing market due to changes in the lifestyle of seniors and their high tendency to travel.
Compared to younger tourists, senior tourists are known for their willingness to spend more on their vacations. With its infrastructure and facilities established over the recent years to draw a higher number of 65 and older tourists, especially those from Europe with a passion for traveling, Turkey stands as one of the growing markets in this segment.
The Mediterranean and Aegean are said to be the regions with the highest potential to take the biggest share from this segment of tourism. In particular, in addition to infrastructure and facilities in the holiday resort city of Antalya and the region, intense personnel training is also being provided within this scope.
Considering that the number of people traveling in Europe is estimated to be around 653.6 million, it is being projected that the number of tourists aged 65 or over is nearly 130 million. The number of people Turkey accommodates in this context is said to be approaching 2 million annually. The target, according to tourism professionals, is to get a higher share from this market.
“We are one of the best countries in the world in terms of facilities,” says Osman Ayık, the chair-man of the Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TÜROFED).
However, he suggests that special promotion programs should be implemented for the targeted audience, pointing to the lack of trained personnel. “It is necessary to be able to explain all these and to give importance to educating staff. In this context, city/district infrastructures should be set to a certain standard,” he told Turkish Milliyet daily.
“For this group of tourists, for example, you need to think separately for those in need of care and others,” Ayık says. It is also of great importance for the senior tourists to fill the facilities that are idle during the winter months. Besides, the studies to be carried out for the tourists receiving re-habilitation services also contribute to their long-term stay.
Antalya Tourism Hoteliers and Operators Association (AKTOB) President Erkan Yağcı emphasizes that the Antalya region stands out in the senior tourism in this context. “They have preferred the Antalya region for a long time in winter,” Yağcı notes.
“These facilities have a system that operates smoothly as they know the needs of these guests very well. We are working hard to further improve. Important promotions have been made to at-tract this potential,” he was cited as saying.
Turkey has a low number of guests aged 65 and over. While in 2018, the number of visitors over the age of 65 was 1.7 million, this figure was 1.2 million in 2017, 1.2 million in 2016, 2 million in 2015 and 2.2 million in 2014.
According to U.N. projections included in the Turkey Tourism Report prepared by the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TÜRSAB), the number of people aged 60 in the world is expected to exceed 2 billion in 2050.
According to the Eurostat survey, 39% of those traveling in EU countries are over 55, while tour-ists aged 65 hold a 20% share. The number of people receiving pensions in Germany, a European country that sends the highest number of tourists to Turkey, has reached 25 million. In Britain, on the other hand, the number of elderly and retirees exceeds 12 million.