The Canaries develop a new “senior-plus” tourism strategy

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Thanks to its mild climate all year round and its proximity to France, the archipelago has become a preferred destination for French seniors. In 2022, the Canary Islands are opting for a new tourism strategy to attract the “senior-plus” segment for longer stays and with a larger budget.

The boom of the “senior-plus” segment

The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce of the Canary Islands Government, through the Canary Islands Tourist Board, has launched an action plan to attract “senior-plus” tourism, people over 55 years old who want to spend a long vacation. The objective of the strategy is to double the spending of senior tourists on the islands, to reach a medium-term expenditure of 770 million euros per year.  “Take a break in the country with the best climate in the world” is the name of the action plan presented by the Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla.

In the medium term, the Ministry plans to attract 200 thousand visitors over 55 years of age each year and to have 770 million euros spent annually on the islands. Before the pandemic, the Canary Islands received 131,600 senior visitors with an average expenditure per trip of 2,907 €, which is more than double that of an average tourist (1,137 €).

The “senior-plus” visitor is one of the 3 most important tourist segments for the Canary Islands, followed by teleworkers and sports tourists. The Canary Islands Tourism Board will allocate a budget for these segments of 1.5 million euros in 2022, plus 500 thousand euros for senior-plus tourism. In 2021, an additional budget of about 250 thousand euros has been allocated for December.

We have already begun to position ourselves in the minds of consumers and will soon have the first results of the “senior-plus” tourism offer. The project is extended to all regions of Spain. An important part of the campaign will contribute to positioning the Canary Islands as the ideal long-stay destination for senior-plus travelers. This segment aims to be less dependent on aviation connectivity and to consume in an environmentally responsible manner. “Senior tourists’ expenses are generally higher and more evenly distributed across the region, which allows the Canary Islands to control better the tourism offer.

Yaiza Castilla

A new economic engine

The Minister also points out that the economy of the senior segment represents 25% of GDP in Europe and more than 45% of global consumption, a segment often described by experts as a new economic engine. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that the population aged 60 and over will make more than 2 billion international trips by 2050. With this in mind, Yaiza Castilla says: “The Canary Islands must become a priority destination for senior tourists. This is an opportunity for economic and social development that the Canary Islands should not miss.

The archipelago already has a large number of senior tourists. In 2019, they already accounted for more than 4,500,000 visits, 34% of the total number of visitors to the Canary Islands and 5.36 billion euros of spending, 35.52% of the total tourist spending on the archipelago.

“Senior-plus” strategy, an objective of reaching 200 thousand tourists per year

In the medium term, the objective of the action plan is to reach 200 thousand “senior-plus” tourists each year. This would represent a 50% increase. The plan also aims to extend the average stay and thus increase annual spending, which would double from 383 million euros to 770 million. The “senior-plus” tourist chooses the Canary Islands as a vacation destination because of its geography, landscape, gastronomy, hiking trails, as well as the commercial and cultural offer.

The average stay for seniors is 50 days, compared to 9 days for all visitors. In total, 80% of “senior-plus” visitors do not book organized trips; they buy flights directly from the airline (73%) and book their own accommodation (54.1%). They often travel as a couple, visit more than one island and are more likely to return. They are savvy trip planners, visiting wineries, markets, museums and enjoying Canarian food.

The “senior-plus” tourism action plan uses different means of communication to target customers, without “aging” the image of the Canary Islands. The director of communication and marketing projects for Canary Islands tourism, Alberto Ávila, explains,

The objective will be to generate branded journalistic content, focused on the destination, based on its simple and friendly lifestyle, the advantages of having the best climate in the world throughout the year and the guarantees of health and personal safety.

Alberto Ávila

As part of a value-added sponsored content campaign, the strategy aims to link the Canary Islands’ tourism offer for the “senior-plus” tourist with information published in the main media.

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