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Regions and cities ready to meet the challenges of the senior tourism sector
​Annemiek Jetten

Local and regional authorities promote a holistic approach to age-friendly tourism

In its opinion on Age-friendly tourism , which was adopted unanimously at its plenary session on 10 February, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) suggests that the growing population of retired people in Europe can act as a lever in promoting and developing out-of-season tourism. The regions play a fundamental role in the development and implementation of tourism-related policy strategies at regional level.

"With a spending power of more than EUR 3 trillion, older people make a significant contribution to Europe's tourism industry and represent an enormous potential, also in terms of boosting local employment. We urgently need to promote an integrated approach to age-friendly tourism, which takes into account both the diverse needs of seniors as well as the strengths of our local economies", pointed out Annemiek Jetten (PES/NL), Mayor of Sluis, member of the CoR commission in charge of natural resources (NAT), rapporteur of the draft opinion on Age-friendly tourism.

There are currently over 128 million EU citizens aged between 55 and 80. This amounts to around 25% of the total population. Older people form a naturally growing group among those who purchase tourism services. They have different needs, motivations and expectations, but for them high-quality services, continuous innovation and skilled staff are important. The CoR opinion draws attention to the important contribution that older people make to the tourism industry. Demographic change should be seen by local decision-makers not only as a challenge, but also as an opportunity for European cities and regions. Tourism has huge potential for stimulating other sectors and creating new jobs, especially for young people. Local and regional authorities should pursue a comprehensive and cross-sectoral approach, covering healthcare, transport and access to services.

In its opinion the CoR calls on the Commission to make senior tourism central to the Digital Agenda for Europe, as a mechanism for bridging the digital divide, and to consider declaring a European Year of Tourism, which would help to promote the diversity of European tourism and raise the profile of the various stakeholders active in the tourism sector.

Annemiek Jetten's opinion will feed into the European Commission's report on Low-season tourism.


Wioletta Wojewodzka
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