Approaches to seniors’ tourist behaviour

Karina Nielsen
  • Tourism Review, June 2014, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/tr-05-2013-0021

Senior tourism

What is it about?

Considering the wide-ranging scope of the literature on senior tourism, as well as the differing views of an older person, the paper aims to identify main approaches to seniors’ tourist behaviour. The findings are based on a literature review of empirical studies on the topic. Specific key elements (the temporal dimension, travel constraints and the segmentation criteria) were chosen for the analysis. The approaches were described in light of life cycle and generational theory, highlighting key variables and empirical results. Four approaches, that reflect intertwining characteristics of seniors’ tourist behaviour, are found: analysis of constraints, comparative analysis, analysis of heterogeneity and temporal analysis. Overall, how seniors’ tourist behaviour is approached is related to how seniors are viewed. Two broad views are suggested: seniors seen as an ageing group or as a heterogeneous group.

Why is it important?

The paper provides an overview of the literature on seniors’ tourist behaviour, which deepens understanding of the complexity of the topic, and describes different ways of approaching it. It contributes to the literature by proposing a synthesis of approaches, which can be useful for bridging the gap between different approaches in future research.


Dr Karina M Nielsen
Universidad de Malaga

When is a senior is perhaps one of the keystones in this research area, because the research approach seems to be linked to how you view a senior. But, older persons are viewed through many perspectives. Two extremes are, on the one hand a more vulnerable population group increasingly care needing (reduced participation in tourism activities), and on the other active empty nesters in their late 50’s enjoying wide-ranging activities (high participating in tourism). Everything seems to be related to people’s life stories, and the older we get, we accumulate more and more “life” experience, which again seems to shape our life styles and consequently tourism behaviour. In this sense, the two views of a senior (an ageing group and a heterogeneous group) are very broad categories, which mainly try to help other researchers in approaching the topic, more than in describing or explaining seniors’ tourist behaviour.

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