Berlin — The over fifties are more mobile and more active than ever before. Between 2005 and 2010 vacation travel by Europeans aged 55 and over expanded by 17 per cent. This age group as a whole accounted for more than a quarter (27 per cent) of all trips abroad. This corresponds to 78 million holiday trips. As far as holiday preferences are concerned, the over fifties are increasingly distancing themselves from the clichés associated with traditional travel by senior citizens.
While beach holidays outstrip any other type of vacation in Europe, and are even gaining in popularity, individual countries have their own preferences. At the same time, city tours, cruises and excursions have experienced a significant boost among the over fifty-fives.
According to an analysis commissioned by Messe Berlin and carried out by the World Travel Monitor®, the most important source markets for the over fifties are the United Kingdom with 16.1 million and Germany with 15.3 million vacation trips. While foreign travel by members of the so-called silver age group from Britain has risen by 28 per cent since 2005, the German market has stagnated. In third and fourth place respectively are France with 7.2 million and the Netherlands with 6.9 million trips. These four countries alone account for almost 60 per cent of all travellers in the over-55 age group.
Dr. Martin Buck, director of the Competence Centre Travel and Logistics at Messe Berlin: “Socio-demographic change in Europe presents a major challenge as well as offering enormous opportunities. As the number of older vacationers rises, so this target group acquires growing importance for the travel industry as a whole. That is why it is so important for the world’s travel industry to be informed about the requirements, demands and wishes of the over fifties with regard to their travel plans.”
With a 28 per cent share of the market, holidays at beach resorts are by far the most popular choice among Europe’s over fifties, and are the most vigorously expanding sector too, the number of such trips having increased by four million since 2005 (a 22 per cent rise). The city tour sector has also expanded significantly (a 16 per cent share of the market). In this area the volume of over fifty-fives grew by 3 million (a 32 per cent rise), followed by cruises, with an increase of 2.4 million trips by people in this age group, and excursions, with a rise of 2.1 million. There was also slight growth across Europe in sports and health-oriented holidays.
Other countries reveal different holiday preferences. According to the World Travel Monitor® there has been a strong decline in the interest shown by Germany’s so-called silver age group in holidays on the beach (3.8 million trips less, minus 18 per cent). All the same, they remain the most popular type of vacation. The winners are smaller market segments such as health-based vacations (0.7 million trips, plus 61 per cent), cruises (0.9 million trips, plus 64 per cent), sports holidays (1 million trips, plus 53 per cent) and city tours (2 million trips, plus 30 per cent). In the United Kingdom the beach is still the most popular form of vacation, by a short head. Among the French, however, excursions are roughly of the same importance as vacations at beach resorts. Although in the Netherlands the over fifties who travel abroad still tend to prefer holidays in the countryside, the biggest expansion has been recorded in city tours and holidays on the beach.