Gathering at their first plenary session in 2016, CoR members gave today unanimous backing to the draft own-initiative opinion by Annemiek Jetten, Mayor of Sluis (PES/Netherlands), on Age-friendly tourism. "With a spending power of more than EUR 3 trillion, older people make a significant contribution to Europe's tourism industry and represent an enormous potential in terms of boosting local employment. We urgently need to promote an integrated approach to age-friendly tourism, which takes into account both the diverse needs of seniors as well as the strengths of our local economies", she stressed.
Insisting on the important role of local and regional authorities - in particular in cross-border regions – in taking up this challenge, the rapporteur underlined that "all actors on the ground must play their part in promoting a cross-sectoral approach that guarantees high quality services when it comes to medical healthcare, wellness, accessibility to tourist destinations and sustainable and affordable transport solutions". In this context, she also pointed to the added value of identifying good practices among senior citizen organisations, setting up exchange programmes for older people and developing affordable tourism products.
The rapporteur also requests the European Commission to make senior tourism central to Europe's Digital Agenda, both as a mechanism for bridging the digital divide and a means for fostering elder people's social inclusion.
Last but not least, the rapporteur recommends the establishment of a European database on senior tourism and the launching of a European Covenant of Mayors on Demographic Change.
Her draft opinion was particularly welcomed by Francina Armengol I Socias, President of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands (PES/Spain), who added that "by extending the tourism season, age-friendly tourism can help to boost growth in Europe's regions". She also pointed to travelling in Europe and getting to know other regions as a great tool to combat Euroscepticism.