The Silver Tourism project comes to an end in October 2017. The final conference was organised by Euromontana on the 19 October 2017 in Brussels and gathered around 50 participants from regional representations, tourism organisations and other stakeholders from the silver economy sector.
Setting the context.
The silver economy emerged from the recent demographic trend of a growing proportion of elderlies in the population, in better health. This represents an economy opportunity, notably for the tourism sector.
Policy-wise, the European Commission issued a communication in 2010 on tourism1 and has been working in parallel on the silver economy (through the EIP-AHA for instance). A lot of initiatives launched by the EC in the previous years such as Calypso or calls for proposals on low- season tourism are now over.
All official sources such as the OECD and the UNWTO concord on saying that the tourism sector will only increase its activities and turnover in the upcoming years with effects on the housing, energy, transport sectors as well as rural development.
Silver Tourism is an Erasmus+ project, running between 2015 and 2017, involving 6 partners from 5 different countries andcoordinated by the Chamber of Commerce of Badajoz in Spain.
The project produced a vocational education training tool, in the shape of a Massive Open On- line Course. This course targets touristic operators and stakeholders of this sector and aims at training silver tourism experts by using the Design Thinking methodology.
Design Thinking is a thought process that can be used to design new products or services which includes 5 steps: Empathise – Define – Ideate – Prototype – Test. Design Thinking exercises include interviews, profile cards, storyboard, stakeholder mapping, motivation matrix, etc.
The MOOC is made up of 5 different units, completed by examples of good practices, videos and Design Thinking exercises. A quiz must be taken between each unit to move on to the following.
➢ UNIT 1. Understanding the needs of silver- age tourists and accompanying people.
➢ UNIT 2. Designing silver tourism products & services.
➢ UNIT 3. Marketing silver tourism products & services.
➢ UNIT 4. Developing local/ regional silver tourism destination.
➢ UNIT 5. Silver tourism management framework.
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More than 2,700 projects dealing with tourism have been funded under the Erasmus+ Programme since 2014 – either through mobility programmes or strategic partnerships. The main objective of strategic partnerships (around 30% of DG EAC’s budget) is to support cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices in the fields of education, training and youth and sport.
Apart from Silver Tourism, other examples of projects include ELEVATOR, ALLTOURIST, and Growing the Market in Accessible Tourism.
The European Cyclists’ Federation is the umbrella federation of national and regional cycling organisations. The main objective of the Silver Cyclists project was to increase the number of seniors undertaking cycling holidays by using the EuroVelo network.
The project achieved to develop tourist packages targeting seniors and launching the Charter of Silver Cyclists.
The TOURage project aimed at developing senior tourism in remote regions. The project collected more than 55 good practices and developed 11 regional action plans. Among these 55 good practices were highlighted:
- Golden Ireland – a business driven approach only for travellers over 55 years old.
- Accessible nature tourism in North Karelia (FI) – a destination development with special adjustments for seniors.
- Training courses for seniors to be trained as local tourist guides in Latvia.
The Seninter project aims to create a slow and sustainable tourism product targeted and adapted to the seniors travelling with their grandchildren during the low and medium season in Europe.
In that sense, the tourism product is based on the discovery of the local heritage (tangible and intangible), culture and on meetings with the local community, especially with other seniors and their grandchildren.
The Seninter project tested their model with a trip organised for 21 Slovenian grandparents and 15 grandchildren travelling to Rimini, Italy for a week. The model has already been transferred to other destinations such as Marseille, France.
European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) are a European initiative promoting sustainable tourism development models across the European Union. All involved EDEN destinations wish to extend the short tourism season.
The main focus of the EDEN 55+ network project was to design suitable cross-border tourism products in pilot EDEN destinations for seniors 55+ (women and couples) to increase tourism flows in low/medium seasons.
The project developed 4 cross-border tourism products for seniors 55+ (women and couples), tested by groups of seniors from Italy in April & May 2017 (two 5-days testing programmes).
The different good practices showed how silver tourism is really an economic opportunity with a huge potential and how they are still skills and competences gaps to fill to make the most of this potential. This is the aim the Silver Tourism project serves with its MOOC.
The take-away message is to think out of the box when building a silver tourism project. Indeed, tourism is not an EU priority anymore, several funding programmes have already disappeared and the future programming period may hold more financial instruments than grants.
So, think of social innovation, cultural heritage, accessibility, social tourism, EEA and Norway grants, SME support, or education and training – and make our seniors enjoy their holidays!
All the presentations are made available on-line.