Abstract: Ageing population is a widely discussed phenomenon. Supporting seniors’ healthy and active lifestyle, a wide range of products and services are aimed at serving elder age groups’ needs. Travelling with tourism purposes is among one of the popular activities of seniors in developed countries. Acknowledging tourism’s benefits, the European Union is also supporting programmes with the objective of developing new tourism products, new tourism flows. In the framework of the COSME programme (co-funded by the EU), projects have been initiated with the main objective fostering tourism flows during the off-season period. This can help not only to raise the quality of life of the involved travellers, but can result a better use of tourism capacities, and a more balanced tourism performance of destinations. One of the COSME programme is the Off to Spas project (676737/COSME) that aims creating a new health tourism product in the Central European countries attractive for senior tourists during the offseason period.
Keywords: ageing, health, European Union, seniors,
Abstract: Tourism is one successful strategy for active and healthy ageing. However a set of challenges needs to be considered, as well as numerous resources can be mobilised. From the European perspective it is relevant to share the outcomes of both policy and projects’ results that will drive the implementation of national and local solutions for low-season and age-friendly tourism.
Keywords: trends, health tourism, medical tourism,
Abstract: Although consumer and tourism trends vary destination by destination, some mainstream development focusing on technology, sustainability, health consciousness – and recently shared economy – forms the environment for tourism receiving areas. Big data and mobile technology influences mostly tourism which results personalisation. However, the main ‘essence’ of travel experience remains something similar, namely feeling happier, better rested, closer to the family, less stressed and more relaxed (Euromonitor 2015). Population ageing, lifestyle changes, tourism alternatives, and particularities of healthcare systems are supporting health tourism development already for some decades (García-Altés, 2005). All these trends influence the Off to Spas project’s success in a positive way, because the health tourism destinations involved offer a non-conventional, innovative way of travel experience, outside of the tourism hot points. The health tourism product is to be developed also in line with mainstream trend by providing a contribution to an increased health status, and quality of life. The Off to Spas project has a clear remit and the terms of reference make our task clear, as we address the health tourism experience of senior citizens (50+) within the European Union. However what becomes clear is that closer scrutiny reveals that there is greater complexity involved in the remit than would be at first appear. As will become obvious, the environment we are operating within lacks definitional and operational certainty. Therefore this article attempts to set out some health tourism trends.
Keywords: senior, tourism, successful ageing, ageing societies, Europe,
Abstract: Nowadays societies are rapidly changing: fertility rates are declining, life expectancy is lengthened, urbanization and migration are important circumstances too in this environment (European Commission, 2014). The prognosis of the UNWTO says that the trips of people over 60 will mean two billions travel by 2050 (Morgan et al., 2015). Such forecasts supposed that each older generation would be healthier, better educated and more financially secure than the previous (Patterson, 2006; Morgan et al., 2015). Older adults are a very attractive segment for tourism stakeholders. The reason for that – among others – is that they have an increased awareness of their health status, so health can be a crucial motivator when travelling with tourism purposes (Chen et al., 2013).
Keywords: health tourism, perceptions, image, Northern Europe,
Abstract: In order to identify the real potential of a new tourism product development – health tourism in this case –, good information about the target group is essential. With this aim, a primary research has been conducted in the framework of the Off to Spas project. The online consumer survey (170 respondents, mainly from Sweden) reflects the attitudes of the potential senior travellers. Besides the general attitudes and travel experiences, the survey focused on the potential of new health tourism product and the elements of a health tourism trip attractive outside of the main season period. As the results show, the already affluent travellers are especially interested in the experiences and discovering new places that can support to maintain their good health condition and support a good quality of life. The introduction of medical treatments and services could be also enriched by the wellness services and non-health tourism attractions, among them culture, gastronomy and nature have the best potential. However, in the case of new, emerging destinations, the general tourism image and awareness should be also communicated, in order to reach successfully these segment.
Keywords: health tourism, stakeholder analysis, product development,
Abstract: In order to provide a comprehensive view about the potential of the new health tourism product development, the consumer survey has been accompanied by a stakeholders survey. Getting to know stakeholders’ opinion and perception, it enables to elaborate a realistic product development process. Gaps identified between travellers’ and stakeholders’ perception can support to map strength (to be communicated more intensively) and weaknesses (to be developed in the future) of the new health tourism product. In the case of the Off to Spas project, the conclusions highlights that stakeholders are more ‘rational’ and focusing on ‘hard’ factors (e.g. infrastructure, safety), meanwhile potential travellers can be attracted by the emotional benefits, and experiences provided by the destination visited.
Keywords: health tourism, product development, mature destination, Hévíz,
Abstract: Hévíz (Hungary) is a well-known health tourism destination with an international reputation. Although the destination has a well-developed infrastructure and a wide range of tourism attractions and services, the city develops its offer from time to time. In the framework of the Off to Spas project, the destination plays a cutting edge role in sharing know-how regarding health tourism product development. Thanks to its wide professional network, the project’s outcomes can be valuable also for other mature health tourism places. In the case of Hévíz, the main focus of the new health tourism product development is to enrich and rejuvenate the already available offer, the innovation means to target new segments (senior travellers from Northern Europe) by providing new and tailor-made experiences.
Keywords: health tourism, product development, emerging destination, Covasna,
Abstract: Covasna (Transylvania) is a place with a very valuable natural environment and a wide range of natural healing assets. However, the lack of awareness, and shortage in infrastructure and tourism services results challenges when developing tourism in the destination. The Off to Spas project is a valuable tool for this emerging destination to find the already attractive assets and services, and to develop tourism packages that can be a motivation for visiting the surroundings. In the case of Covasna, the project provided an excellent know-how and network to build on. The result is a new health tourism product that can support the reputation of the place, and induce further developments in the area.