Is medical treatment the next big thing for the travel industry

 

In Singapore, older travellers go to China, Europe and Africa for a healthy holiday. Bigger players such as Commonwealth Travel subsidiary CTC Healthcare  (http://www.ctchealthcare.com.sg)  report a marked increase in business. Some companies say that although the numbers are too small to warrant elderly-specific packages, they have slowed the pace of the tours for them. Travel agencies are finding that some people go back to Europe every year, going up to the Alps for some therapeutic treatment. Many senior travellers in Singapore go away three or four times a year.

Some travel agencies will advise older customers of potential health risks, and may even request they go for a medical check-up before signing up. The smarter ones are turning this around. Recognising a new business opportunity they are seeking destinations that can alleviate the health concerns of older travellers. The silver generation will soon have even more options for their next health based trip.

What applies in Singapore must also apply to many other countries. Travel agents and insurers in the UK are l aware of the huge amount of business from those in their fifties, sixties and seventies. Recently, one or two companies have recognized that with an increasing number of older travellers, a new market of those in their eighties is beginning. Ironically, the very reason many travel insurers are reluctant to cover older travellers, is exactly why there must be a vast market potential of health and wellness related travel for this age group.

The over 50’s form an increasingly complex and diverse group with enormous influence and spending power. In the UK, approximately 42% of all adults are 50 plus, that is around 20 million people and the over 60s now account for 20% of the population. In the US this ‘Third Age’ is set to exhibit the strongest growth of all demographic segments in the next five years, generating a group representing over one-quarter of the total population. 68 million people in the US are 55 or older. Soon there will be more than 3 million people over 55 years, which represents 30% of the total population in Sweden.

In order to target the over 50’s as a consumer group, companies need to gain a closer understanding of this age group, their lifestyles, their histories and interests and adapt marketing plans accordingly. While the needs of a 55-year-old can be very different from those of an 85-year-old, there is almost certainly a common bond in the desire for independence, mobility, and new experiences.

The importance of encouraging healthy lifestyles is just as important in this age group as in any other and the growth in health and wellness related travel applies here too as more seniors take up healthy pastimes. As well as spas and wellness centres, preventative treatments, private health care abroad and even cosmetic surgery are all motivating factors for the over 50’s.

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