One of the aspects of the social pillar of responsible tourism is about making it easy for everyone to enjoy tourism experiences regardless of their physical limitations, disabilities or age.
Society is getting older: nowadays, more than 128 million people in the European Union are aged between 55 and 80 years, representing about 25% of the total population and the current demographic trends in the EU show that the proportion of senior citizens is bound to constantly increase up to a 30% in 2060.
Nevertheless, the European-wide senior tourism market remains limited and fragmented, senior tourists’ mobility is often problematic and very often the supply is scarcely designed when it comes to meeting the needs of the elderly.
In this context, the European Union is financing several projects in order to foster the creation of touristic products for seniors in low season.
The European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality (EARTH) presented one of those during the World Congress of the International Social Tourism Organisation (Zagreb, 19 – 21 October).
The project, called SENINTER, plans to create a slow and sustainable tourism product targeted and adapted to seniors traveling with their grandchildren during the low and medium season in Europe. The children are preferably less than 6 years old, the seniors are preferably retired in order to travel out of the high tourism season which means that they are 55 years old and more.
The tourism product will be based on the discovery of the local heritage (tangible and intangible), culture and on meetings with the local community, especially with other seniors and their grandchildren of the destination.
The very first experience will be from 26th to 31st of March 2017, where 15 grand-parents with grand-children from Slovenia will spend 5 nights and 6 days in Rimini (Italy) during the touristic low-seasons.
The visitors will discover an unusual part of Rimini and surroundings (usually known for the very active nightlife) in order to get in touch with the local culture. The trip foresees the visit of the roman part of the town, but also one day in San Marino – the smallest and the oldest Republic in Europe – together with many other activities.
The climax of this experience will be when Slovenian grandparents and children together will meet the local community in a Social Center for elderly people. Slovenian and Italian grandparents will tell their stories about their own childhood and different experiences – a vital emotional involvement for both generations and positive relationship.
The organisations involved in the implementation come from all over the Europe: Diesis (Belgium), KOAN (Spain), Egocentro (Italy), Emilia Romagna Region (Italy), Associazione Italiana Turismo Responsabile (Italy), DT Slovenia, NEC – Notranjska ecological centre (Slovenia) and the Network EARTH – European Alliance for Responsible Tourism and Hospitality.