Gianni Rusconi | Il Sole 24ore

The over-65s want to continue travelling, exploring, devoting their free time to their passions. And to do this they are willing to open their wallets without too much trouble. A lot. According to Istat data processed by Lattanzio M&E and presented on the occasion of the Italian Tourism Exchange, tourist spending (accommodation and food services) by Italians of 'silver' age can be estimated at around 5 billion euros per year, to which a further 7 billion must be added for recreation, entertainment and culture. No less significant is the economic impact of senior foreign tourists, worth an equal 5 billion euro, with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States in the lead in terms of presences per country (LM&E estimates based on Bank of Italy data) in that order.

How to intercept a demanding and numerous target

Dizzying figures, in short, that confirm the excellent health of a constantly growing segment, considered not by chance by insiders as a great development opportunity for the tourism market and especially for tour operators and hoteliers. The latter - as noted by Daniela Ameri, director of (an online magazine dedicated to the over-50s community), are particularly called upon "to develop innovative strategies to respond to a very demanding target". And very numerous. In 2017, the over-65s in Europe constituted about 20% of the active population, while in Italy they were 23%, for about 14 million people; by 2050, the slice of our travellers/consumers is destined to expand further to reach 20 million in our country, equal to 35% of the population, compared to an EU average that will instead stop below 30%.

What activities do 'silver tourists' prefer on holiday? The Lattanzio M&E research shows that (citing Eurostat data) 75% of Italian over-65s spend their holidays in our country, 38% visit family and friends; around 30% prefer contact with nature and an identical percentage prefer cultural destinations and relaxation between sun and beach, while 15% focus decisively on wellness. The first choice of 'silver' foreigners arriving in Italy, on the other hand, is undoubtedly art and culture (an item indicated by 69% of the sample), but attention to food and wine is not negligible. The watchword, for everyone, is customisation: the senior traveller (30% of whom live alone) also builds his or her holiday on the basis of services capable of guaranteeing him or her the utmost comfort in terms of travel, health care and eating habits.

Tailor-made' offers

Analysing the future developments of the so-called 'silver economy', Luca Cuzzocrea, scientific head of Lattanzio KIBS Monitoring & Evaluation, emphasised how 'the data available today tell us of silver people who are increasingly healthy, increasingly digitised and increasingly inclined to spend their free time on holiday, but also increasingly demanding. And these needs must be intercepted, studied and satisfied, so that this category of customers can be the driving force of a new golden age for the tourism sector'. What travel operators and accommodation facilities will therefore have to achieve (and right away) is a level of service dedicated to a target that is increasingly eager for a 'tailor-made' holiday. Walter Vassallo, CEO and founder of Letyourboat, a ligurian start-up that has promoted the concept of 'bed&boat', i.e. the possibility of sleeping on a boat moored in a marina, is also convinced of this. "When we conceived our platform, we thought of making the experience of living the sea accessible from a new perspective, even to those who have not yet experienced this emotion and are looking for comfort, triggering a paradigm shift in the tourism offer through an innovative hospitality concept, usable 365 days a year". Even for travellers over 65.

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