Demographic Changes Will Impact the Tourism Industry

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Wrong end of the stick
By Sandra Rhodda

New Zealand seems hardly aware of how major demographic changes will impact our tourism industry.

I refer of course to population ageing worldwide and the resulting rise in the number
of people with disabilities (PWDs).

It was informative therefore to see several overseas references to these factors in
IT742.

For example, Jerry Bridge, MD of UK-based Bridge and Wickers International said
at TRENZ that in the UK, older clients are the second largest market and that his
company will continue to target them because they have more time and money.
Ruth Grau, president of Los Angeles-based Springboard Vacations talks of the
potential for 2,000 medical tourists per year to this country, resulting in a demand
for 30,000-40,000 bednights.

Accessible

To accommodate this potential demand, facilities will need to be accessible for
PWDs, and current medical tourists are recuperating at SkyCity Grand and City
Life because "they offer facilities for the disabled".

Finally, a review of The Jackson Report, commissioned for the Australian Federal
Tourism Minister, states that a far greater proportion of tomorrow's tourists will be
over 60.

In fact, The Jackson Report predicts that domestic tourism visits in Australia by
those 50 or older will jump from 27.7 million in 2007 to 35.2 million in 2030, and
that spend by this group will jump from $17,000 million to $21,000 million. Most of
the increases will come from the 60+ age group. Meanwhile, visit and spend by those
aged 15 to 49 are expected to remain at 2007 levels.

The greying of the population, the increase in tourists with disabilities, and our sad
lack of facilities for such tourists has been discussed in the New Zealand context
before (See IT639, IT699, IT705, IT739).

Question

The question therefore arises: when will our government and industry sit up and
take notice? The Ministry of Tourism's own data shows that the proportion of older
visitors in or to New Zealand is creeping up. Overall, about 45 percent of visitors
are now 45 years old or older. In the case of short-term visitors from China, the
proportion 45 or older is 56 percent, and for cruise ship passengers to New Zealand
- think development of port facilities - it is over 70 percent.

Youth

Surely we have the wrong end of the stick? We still intend to focus on the youth
market (IT 741/2) as part of our strategy to bolster visitor arrivals over the
upcoming summer (TNZ website), and intend to look to the young adventure-seeking
backpackers market as an industry lifeline.

This in spite of the fact that even in the backpacker market, grey is growing. A
YHA NZ user survey shows that those 50 or older comprised 14 percent in 2007
but 27 percent in 2008. And the fact that "adventure-seeking" is not top of the list
of things tourists do or intend to do here should also be a wake-up call. Top holiday
motivators tend to be fairly sedate. For internationals, "seeing attractions", and for
domestics "taking time out" top the list
.
In fact the number one activity of all tourists in NZ is "sightseeing". While it is
true that some of our ageing tourists will still want to jump off bridges or hang off
mountains, most will probably be less inclined to do so as they age and become less
able-bodied. And it is the growing ageing sector that New Zealand should be going
after. Why? Because, as Mr Bridge and The Jackson Report so rightly point out,
this will be the market with the time and the money

Source: Inside Nigel Coventry Tourism
www.insidetourism.com.

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