Identifying the Senior Traveler

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Why do people travel? Some look at it as a way of acquiring a “worldly perspective” of diverse culture and tradition. Others may view it as a way to connect with their inner self. It can even be an opportunity to try something new. The bottom line: our motivation for travelling changes, between people and across ages.

We have a certain image of the “common traveler” that echoes youth and adventure (try Google-ing “traveler”). For the longest time, this was actually the case; about five years ago, more than half of Singapore’s youth in their twenties to thirties travelled overseas. Other age groups paled in comparison. We need to expand our idea of who can be defined as a traveler, and how they are depicted.

Aging has become a very relevant conversation on a global scale; the Modern Aging platform looks to carry it on by highlighting the endless potential of the aging population. We can all agree that there is a perception that the elderly don’t (like to) travel as much as younger people do; so, why is age seen as a barrier?

In truth, aging presents so much possibility under the travel umbrella. Travel can be an engaging and insightful way for the elderly to spend their retirement period; it may even help them socialize and find companionship as they grow older. It even seems to sport some health benefits for elders! There are also so many older people around the world who love exploring new places as part of their “lifetime bucket list” (check out this forum of senior travellers sharing their travel tips), and it’s time we encourage this more.

The number of elderly is climbing quickly; how do we motivate them to travel? The first step is to know and meet their needs. Singapore has already kicked this off by redesigning public spaces to be more age-friendly, including wheelchair accessibility in public transport and lifts to overhead bridges to help elderly travel easily within the island itself. Not to mention, so many big tourist attractions such as Gardens by the Bay have also made their landscapes and facilities more universal to welcome older tourists who may struggle with mobility.

We all know that as we age, we become more prone to chronic disease. This brings us to another huge selling point for senior travelers: medical tourism. Singapore stands out in Asia with its unique “comfort and luxury with medical services” approach, attracting tourists from all around the world. It’s safe to assume that elderly citizens with long-term illnesses needing regular treatment are likely to prefer relaxing, more hospitable hospital stays, and Singapore provides just that. Take a look at our city’s first integrated medical and hospitality complex that gives patient care a whole new meaning here.

Singapore has so far taken all these large strides to encourage senior tourists to travel; now how do we move forward? What other areas can we look into to further boost senior travel, and how can we improve upon what we’re doing right now? Come to our next Modern Aging seminar, Tourism and the Senior Traveler on November 11th and be a part of this discussion as we find ways to champion the senior traveller.

By Diya Gopalan
Edited by Jananie Audimulam

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