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Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World

Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World

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Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World

494 pages
6 hours
Dec 21, 2017


Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World, based on Ian Patterson's previously published Growing Older, provides an overview of the latest research concerning tourist behaviour and leisure needs of baby boomers, seniors, and older adults. With an increasingly ageing population, industry interest has intensified and there has been a corresponding explosion in related research activity.

Covering marketplace trends that attract the older market, this new edition:
- Provides an understanding of the older tourism and leisure market, discussing how to effectively provide for this expanding group;
- Discusses growing areas such as independent travel, the leisure experience, cultural and heritage tourism, cruises, and health and wellness tourism;
- Supplies case studies of tourism and leisure organizations successfully catering to the needs of the older market.

This book is an invaluable resource for researchers and students interested in senior leisure and travel, a section with the money and the time to invest heavily in leisure and tourism activities. It can also be applied by professionals to improve their product offerings for this sector, which, while valuable, brings its own unique challenges.
Dec 21, 2017

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Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World - Ian Patterson



I was born and grew up in Melbourne, Australia. I had a fascination as a child with listening to stories from my grandparents and older relatives about their holidays and trips. In the 1950s and 1960s, Christmas was spent at the Mornington Peninsula, at a place named Dromana (84 kilometres or one hour’s drive from Melbourne) where we holidayed in a caravan for several weeks close to the beach. In those days, older people did not travel very far for their holidays. Travel overseas was seen as a luxury as it was regarded as too expensive and arduous for people who had retired. My parents never travelled overseas during the whole of their lives.

My interest in studying older adults began in 1988 when I was a PhD student at the University of Oregon, USA. I became interested in this field of enquiry through my studies in the academic field of gerontology. The idea for this book dated back to when I took a graduate class from Professor Denis Howard at the university on tourism research. In one of the assignments that he set for the class, he asked students to develop a book proposal on a tourism topic. As a result, I completed an initial proposal for a book on the tourism and leisure needs of older adults that became the basis for my first edition.

When I was first appointed as a lecturer (and then senior lecturer) in leisure studies at Griffith University in 1991, I was one of the first academics who was interested in articulating a vision about the future of tourism and leisure services for older adults. I developed lectures and workshops for my students, as well as presenting to a number of human service organizations in Queensland such as the Blue Nurses, Red Cross, the Uniting Church Division of Aged Care and Domiciliary Service, and the Princess Alexandria Hospital. In 2000, I was appointed as an Associate Professor in the School of Tourism and Leisure Management at the University of Queensland.

When I began writing about older adults, my earlier publications focused on the leisure needs of the frail aged, and on building a case to support the importance of leisure and recreation programmes in institutionalized settings such as Nursing Homes. In the early 2000s, my research focus changed to concentrate on researching healthy older people, and in particular to study the social-psychological needs and benefits for older people who undertook tourism and travel activities.

The first edition of the textbook I wrote was titled Growing Older: Tourism and Leisure Behaviour of Older Adults and was published by CABI in 2006. The focus of the book was to provide an understanding of this emerging market for tourism and leisure providers, and to discuss how to effectively market to this expanding group of older travellers. The book explored the older tourist from a range of different perspectives – as a domestic tourist; as an overseas visitor who was part of a packaged tour; as an active participant in a soft adventure tour; and for those who required an educational focus.

Since the book was published, tourism and leisure experiences have become even ‘bigger business’ for increasing numbers of older travellers. Marketers and travel companies were now directing their attention to this growing niche market. In addition, there has been an explosion of academic articles that were targeting senior, baby boomer, and older adult travel. Among the new trends that have been identified, was the fact that older travellers are seeking out new experiences and creative personal challenges in their travel behaviour, as well as becoming more skilful and knowledgeable consumers that demand value for their money. In particular, there is a growing market segment emerging of adventurous, independent and special interest older travellers. They are seeking out new, exotic, and interesting destinations that link up to their special interests, which may include educational tourism, adventure experiences, visiting heritage sites, and health and wellness holidays.

This new edition has a new title: Tourism and Leisure Behaviour in an Ageing World and has a similar focus to the first edition. That is, to provide the latest research about the characteristics, tourist behaviour, and leisure needs of baby boomers, seniors, and older adults. In the last ten years since the first edition was published there has been a huge increase in interest from the tourism industry about this field, and an explosion in published research papers which have concentrated on this growing field of leisure and tourism for older people. In addition, new niche markets have emerged such as cultural/heritage tourism, cruise tourism, and health and wellness tourism, which are attracting greater interest from the older market.

This new edition will have several changes to its format:

•  Chapter 5 on ‘Mode of Leisure Travel’ has an increased analysis of the importance of caravanning and RV travel for grey nomads (in Australia) and snow birds (in Canada).

•  Chapter 6 on ‘Types of Travel Experiences’ has a new section on independent travel, and a discussion of the importance of the ‘leisure experience’ for older travellers.

•  Three new chapters have been included: Cruise Tourism (Chapter 9), Cultural and Heritage Tourism (Chapter 10), and Health and Wellness Tourism (Chapter 11).

•  New case studies have been included to provide examples of tourism and leisure organizations that are successfully catering for the needs of the older travel market.

I would like to acknowledge the friendship and camaraderie that I have received from my colleague, Dr Shane Pegg from the Tourism Cluster of the Business School at the University of Queensland. We have published a number of research articles together on ageing and tourism and he has been a wonderful support to me over the years. I would also like to thank my Editor at CABI, Ms Alexandra Lainsbury for her help, guidance, and support while I have been re-writing the second edition. She has always answered my emails promptly and has been there for me with a kind word at times when I needed it most. Thanks Alex!

Finally, I would like to thank my partner Susan for her love and support over the last year of writing the second edition, which I could not have finished without her. I would also like to thank my children, Anna, Clare, Kathryn and Andrew; and grandchildren, Chloe, Holly and Sally, for the contribution they have made, and continue to make to my life. This book is part of the legacy to you all.

Ian Patterson

21 May 2017

1 Tourism and Leisure Needs of Older Travellers

The aims of this chapter are to:

•  Provide a general introduction to the growing older population throughout the Western world.

•  Examine the importance of leisure, travel, and tourism as emerging markets for older adults.

•  Understand and define the concepts of leisure and tourism and to examine their similarities and differences.

•  Define the different cohort groups that are included in the general category of older adults, particularly the silent generation, new-age elderly, baby boomers, and the senior market.

•  Explore in greater depth the emerging baby boomer market and its relationship to tourism and leisure behaviour.


Betty Friedan (1921–2006) the famous feminist wrote about her experiences with ageing in The Fountain of Age, which was first published in 1993. In the following quote, Friedan captures the essence of successful ageing when she suggests the need to redefine later life as a time of growth instead of inevitable decline. ‘Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength’ (Friedan, 1994).

Our world is growing older at the fastest rate in its history. Most countries around the world have an ageing population (United Nations, 2015). In 2015, there were 48% more people aged 60 years or over worldwide than there were in 2000, and by 2050 the global number of older adults are expected to double from around 617 million to 1.6 billion (He et al., 2016) (Fig. 1.1).

Fig. 1.1. Increase in world population relative to 2000, by broad age group, 2000–2050 (from United Nations, 2015).

Life expectancy has increased dramatically in the 21st century in most of the developed countries. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the World Health Organization (WHO) African Region, to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions (World Health Organization, 2016). The highest life expectancies are in the more developed regions, particularly Europe (28.8%), North America (25.1%), and Oceania (19.7%). The oldest life expectancies for both males and females include the following countries: Japan, 84; Italy, 83; Spain, 83; France, 82; Sweden, 82; United Kingdom, 81; Australia, 83; New Zealand, 82; Canada, 82; and the USA, 79 (World Health Organization, 2016).

At the present time, Japan has the largest number of people who are 65 years and older. The number has nearly quadrupled in the last 40 years to 33 million in 2014, accounting for 26% of Japan’s total population (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication Bureau, 2016). In the USA, more than 20% of residents are projected to be aged 65 and over by 2030, compared with 13% in 2010 and 9.8% in 1970 (Ortman et al., 2014). That is, one in five Americans will be older than 65, and some experts believe that this cohort will place a major strain on the social welfare system. In Australia in 2013, 14% of the population (3.3 million people) were aged 65 and over, and 1.9% were aged 85 and over (439,600 people). By 2053 using medium-level growth assumptions, 21% of the population will be aged 65 and over (8.3 million people) and 4.2% aged 85 and over (1.6 million people) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014).

The United Nations (2015) has recognized the fact that the older generation is growing at a rapid rate, and estimated that more than 2 billion people will be aged 60 and older by 2050. This will account for 22% of the world’s population, compared with only 10% in 2000, and this demographic shift will be seen across all continents. In 2001 the UN presented a report that was prepared by its Population Division to the 2002 World Assembly on Ageing (United Nations, 2001). The report provided a description of global trends in population ageing, and included a series of indicators of the ageing process by development regions, major areas, regions, and countries. The report concluded that:

•  Population ageing is unprecedented and without parallel in human history – the 21st century will witness even more rapid ageing than did the previous century.

•  Population ageing is pervasive, a global phenomenon affecting every man, woman, and child – but countries are at very different stages of the process, and the pace of change differs greatly. Countries that started the process later will have less time to adjust.

•  Population ageing is enduring – we will not return to the young populations that our ancestors knew.

•  Population ageing has profound implications for many facets of human life.

Another direct result of these changing global ageing trends is that older travellers are increasingly accounting for a greater share of all vacation and holiday spending (Littrell et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2007). Figures have shown that in 1999, over 593 million international travellers were aged 60 years and over. At this time, they accounted for approximately one-third of the total amount spent on holidays in that year. By 2050 this figure is projected to grow to exceed two billion trips per annum (World Tourism Organization, 2001). These future population projections indicate that becoming older does not necessarily restrict people’s desire to travel, in fact the opposite is actually occurring (Reece, 2004; Boksberger and Laesser, 2009; Chen and Wu, 2009; Patterson and Pegg, 2009).

This population increase is having a significant impact on the type of holidays undertaken, and although travelling to warmer climates is still popular, many older adults are demanding new and exotic destinations in their search for memorable experiences that may include educational tourism, soft adventure holidays, visiting heritage sites, and volunteering holidays. It is becoming more common that older individuals now prefer to take holidays where they can learn something new and/or embark on different historical and cultural experiences (Patterson and Pegg, 2011). Many are adding unusual destinations to their itinerary, and for others, ‘They are the biggest participants of volunteer-related travel who look for spiritual or experiential aspects of travel as much as the young market do’ (Fraser, 2012, p. 6). Furthermore, long-haul adventure trips are becoming more popular in the off season, while for others they prefer a shorter travel period, to be more active, so that they will not be away from home for long periods of time (Patterson and Pegg, 2011).

Since the turn of the 21st century, tourism researchers have noted that older travellers are growing into a separate market from younger people (You and O’Leary, 2000; Muller and O’Cass, 2001), which is increasingly attracting the attention of destination managers from the leisure travel industry. Several years ago, Robertson (2001) noted that tourism researchers needed to more clearly differentiate between the impact of travel experiences on older people and that of younger tourists. Robertson (2001) posed this question: ‘Is travel [for older people] more than materialistic shopping trips, mass tour buses that isolate travellers from locations they desire to see, or self-indulgent trips that take advantage of Third World Countries?’ (p. 100). Despite this cynical viewpoint, there is little doubt that older people and baby boomers are increasingly placing tourism and travel as a higher priority in their retirement years than earlier generations. As Robertson noted, the travel destinations and type of travel may differ to younger travellers.

Thus, older travellers are becoming a separate and distinct market because they still feel healthy, are often wealthier, better educated, and more independent than previous generations of older people who are aged 65 years and older. Many have an abundance of free time and a lessening of social and family obligations compared to younger cohorts of people (Sellick, 2004; Nimrod, 2007; Patterson and Pegg, 2009). They possess a relatively large share of discretionary money that they want to spend on travel (Fleisher and Pizam, 2002; Huang and Tsai, 2003; Glover and Prideaux, 2009). They prefer to take longer holiday trips and stay away from home for a longer period of time (Fleisher and Pizam, 2002; Robinson and Godbey, 2010), and have a greater concern for personal safety while travelling (Fleisher and Pizam, 2002; Patterson and Pegg, 2009) than any other age segment of the population.

The latest report from the American Association for Retired People (AARP) Boomer Travel Trends Report (2014) in the USA found that baby boomers will be active travellers in 2015 as they anticipate taking an average of four to five trips in 2016. More than half (55%) anticipate travelling only within the USA, while four out of ten anticipate travelling both domestically and internationally. In Australia, more seniors than previously are travelling overseas, with the number of people aged 65 to 74 holidaying overseas jumping by more than 80% in the last five years. The figures also showed a 15% rise in the number of globe-trotting older people aged 75–79, and a 12% hike in over 80s travelling overseas. The figures also showed that the age group 75 years and over has shown considerable change with the sex ratio increasing from 74 males in 1999–2000 to 101 males per 100 females in 2009–10 (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010) (Fig. 1.2).

Fig. 1.2. Short-term departures by Australian residents, per 100 resident population, by age (June 2010). (From Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010).


The populations of most developed, and some developing, societies are growing older. This is because birth rates have decreased and life expectancies are increasing due to medical advances and better healthcare, as well as greater public health education with regard to diet, exercise, and improved safety awareness. As a result, population projections have estimated that there will be huge increases in the numbers of older people in the future; it has been estimated that by 2050, 2 billion people will be aged 60 and older, accounting for 22% (or 1 : 5) of the world population. Because of their sheer numbers, they will demand greater power and influence on policy and political decisions in the country in which they live.

There has also has been rapid growth in the numbers of older people who are travelling on a worldwide basis, and it has been estimated that in the future this growth will begin to dominate the tourism market. Becoming older will no longer restrict people’s desire to travel within their own country or overseas. Research evidence supports the fact that older people, particularly those who have recently retired, are relatively healthier, better educated, and more financially secure than previous cohorts of older people. Because they have more time for leisure and are relatively free of family obligations, they prefer to travel for longer periods of time, often in the off season and have a greater concern for personal safety when travelling compared with younger age groups. Because of the great heterogeneity and diversity of this older population, they require a greater variety of travel options than previously, ranging from soft adventure travel that they may want to organize themselves through the Internet, to group travel where everything is done for them by the travel agent and they stay in five-star hotels.

Definitions of Leisure and Tourism

Are there common threads that link the concepts of tourism and leisure together? Certainly there are common social and psychological outcomes that occur through participation in what have been regarded as often distinctly different categorized behaviours. Similar concepts from a number of academic disciplines such as sociology, psychology, and geography have been applied to the study of leisure and tourism. The study of human motivations, perceptions, satisfaction, spatial relationships, social exchanges, etc., has been utilized in the study of leisure and tourism to better understand the function, form, and processes that are involved in each type of behaviour.

In the past, the impact and presence of tourism and tourists was largely ignored by behavioural researchers. This was mainly due to the deeply embedded values of Western society that glorified work and devalued play and leisure. Leisure was seen as superfluous and peripheral compared to the values associated with work which were regarded as noble and spiritual (Pearce, 1982, 2013).

The definitional problems that leisure and tourism have experienced have undoubtedly hindered most of the attempts to clarify and specify any theoretical relationships that have existed between the two concepts. The other concern is that leisure and tourism research has been conducted as separate areas of study with limited crossover, and for some unknown reason, even today they remain relatively isolated from each other. This has been unfortunate, as Crick’s (1989) comment suggests that taxonomies of tourists and tourism are clearly fuzzy or overlapping, and could easily be applied to the interface between leisure and tourism studies in general.

What is leisure?

Leisure studies has its origins in North America in the mid-19th century, with what was termed the ‘Rational Recreation Movement’ that sought to improve the quality of life of the newly urbanized working class. Recreation programmes were encouraged by the Christian churches of the time, emphasizing wholesome and socially responsible activities such as outdoor recreation and camping, community sport, and supervised children’s play. This was achieved through the provision of public parks and open spaces, as well as recreation and sport facilities to counteract idle activity, juvenile delinquency, drinking, and gambling. Leisure was also related to the ideals of choice, creativity, and freedom that were seen as legitimate activities and essential for a society’s survival (Cross, 1990).

One of the earliest writers on the importance of leisure in society was Thorstein Veblen (Veblen, 1994), a sociologist who wrote about leisure around the beginning of the 20th century. He stated that leisure helped to create a wealthy class that did not have to work, and as a result was able to enjoy what he termed the ‘conspicuous consumption of leisure’, while at the same time exploiting the poor and ‘downtrodden’ classes that did all the hard, manual work. After the Second World War, other leisure scholars such as Josef Pieper (1948) and Sebastian de Grazia (1962) wrote about leisure from a moral and religious perspective, viewing leisure as the basis of culture and stating that it was the only hope for future civilizations because of the emphasis we have placed on work.

A French sociologist, Jofree Dumazdier (1960, 1967) became known as the ‘Father of Leisure Studies’ because of his erudite writings about leisure and its importance in comparison to paid work. He defined leisure as free-time activities that were different from productive work, and concluded that leisure served three main functions: firstly, relaxation as leisure provides recovery from fatigue; secondly, entertainment as leisure relieves boredom through diversion, or escape through fantasy such as going to the movies, the theatre or reading a book; and, thirdly, leisure helps to liberate people from the drudgery associated with their daily routine of thought and action, by joining recreational, cultural or social groups, and/or by enrolling in a range of educational courses (Dumazdier, 1967).

In the 1970s and 1980s, John Neulinger (1974, 1981), a well-known psychologist at the time, developed a major interest in the study of leisure and embarked on a quest to define leisure from a psychological perspective which he termed a ‘state of mind’. Neulinger was interested in answering the following question: What are the motives behind people continually seeking out (or approaching) optimally arousing leisure experiences? He concluded that the essence of leisure needed to fulfil certain conditions that needed to be present before it became a ‘pure’ leisure experience. Neulinger determined that three conditions were: perceived freedom in leisure; intrinsic motivation; and internal locus of control. These were the essential ingredients that helped to define the leisure experience.

Contemporary leisure researchers such as Witt, Ellis, Mannell, and Kleiber have further operationalized and tested this definition through the application of social psychological research to the field of leisure studies. Terms such as perceived freedom, internal locus of control, optimal arousal, intrinsic motivation, enjoyment, and relaxation were also found to be useful concepts that were operationalized in more recent research that has helped to define the ‘leisure experience’. This research has shared similarities with other psychological research, such as that by another psychologist, Michalyi Csikszentmihalyi (1975, 1990, 1997) who has been recognized as one of the founders (with Martin Seligman) of the scientific movement of ‘positive psychology’. He used the term ‘flow’ to describe those exceptional moments in life and the effortless action that people feel when experiencing leisure, and that athletes often refer to as ‘being in the zone’. He defined flow as, ‘. . . a unified flowing from one movement to the next, in which the person is in control of his/her actions and in which there is no distinction between self and environment, between stimulus and response, or between past, present and future’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1975, p. 36).

As a result of this concentration on social psychological research, leisure researchers became more interested in studying the overall patterns of leisure behaviour, rather than analysing participation in specific leisure activities such as watching television or playing football. In other words, the variety, frequency, and quality of the experience was found to be more important to overall life satisfaction than the actual type of leisure activity that one participates in (Smith and Godbey, 1991).

At the same time, leisure studies researchers ignored the theoretical basis for the study of tourism. It was not until the 1980s that an increasing number of leisure researchers began to express an interest in researching a variety of tourism topics. This was because they began to realize that tourism and travel were encapsulated within most of the current definitions of leisure, and that tourism and travel were undertaken in people’s free time as well as being regarded as a pleasurable, intrinsically motivating and rewarding experience.

Leisure activities and older adults

In this context, leisure activities have been defined as preferred and enjoyable activities that are participated in during one’s free time (Kleiber and Nimrod, 2009), and are characterized as representing freedom and providing intrinsic satisfaction (Kelly, 1996). Studies in the 1990s found that older people spent most of their free time in leisure activities around their home that were mainly sedentary and socially based (Lawton, 1993). Solitary activities such as watching television and listening to the radio were popular leisure activities among older age groups, while sports and exercise participation was least likely to occur (Armstrong and Morgan, 1998). Kelly (1992; Kelly and Kelly, 1994) further noted that as people aged, they accumulated a core of leisure activities that remained fairly stable during their older years. He noted that these activities were commonly centred on the family, and generally took place in and around the home such as conversations over meals and watching television together.

However, after the publication of several academic textbooks with an emphasis on leisure and ageing in the 1980s, there was a growing realization that retirement was also a time when individuals experienced new feelings of freedom to do what they wanted, when they wished, as well as providing an opportunity to take risks and try something they were unable to do while they were working (MacNeil and Teague, 1987; Leitner and Leitner, 1996; McGuire et al., 2013). In his five editions, McGuire et al. (the latest published in 2013) provided a framework to help readers understand what they meant as ‘successful ageing’ through the use of the term ‘Ulyssean’ living. These writings emphasized that leisure was a potentially powerful force that made later life a positive and at times exhilarating experience. The term ‘Ulyssean adult’ was originally coined by McLeish (1976) who used the term to refer to individuals that sought out new adventures and who understood the potential of leisure (or creativity) to contribute to their later life.

Adams et al. (2011) supported these findings after reviewing 44 articles that focused on social and leisure activity and well-being that had been published between 1995 and 2009. They concluded that an engaged lifestyle was seen to be an important component of successful ageing, and that many older adults with high participation in social and leisure activities (particularly informal social activities) reported positive well-being in their lives.

Another prolific writer on the sociology of leisure was Robert Stebbins (1982, 1992, 1998, 2015) who has spent most of his career publishing a collection of books and articles on sports, leisure, work, and the generic sociological connections that tie them together. He was responsible for coining the term ‘serious leisure’ to describe, ‘. . . the systematic pursuit of an amateur, hobbyist or volunteer core activity that people find so substantial, interesting and fulfilling that, in the typical case, they launch themselves on a (leisure) career centred on acquiring and expressing a combination of its special skills, knowledge and experience’ (2015, p. 9).

He concluded that for many older people, they achieved their greatest satisfaction and fulfilment from being amateurs, hobbyists, and volunteers, and this commitment helped them to keep busy, make new friends, and to enhance their older years. Using Stebbins’ serious leisure perspective, Misener et al. (2010) studied older volunteers (N = 20 who were aged 65 years and older) who participated in community sporting organizations. The researchers concluded that these older volunteers viewed their experiences as extremely positive, enabling them to make a meaningful contribution and to receive several benefits. These benefits included substantial involvement, strong identification with the activity, and the ability to persevere.

On the subject of whether leisure activities diminish or change as a person ages, Strain et al. (2002) concluded that age alone does not fully explain why some older adults cease participation in some leisure activities. Other factors such as the older persons’ self-rated health and their functional ability were also significantly related to changes in leisure activities. Stressful life events or transitions also had a negative impact on leisure participation to some extent. For example, the loss of a spouse was often associated with a reduction in overall participation in leisure activities, as well as in outdoor yard work (Patterson, 1996; Strain et al., 2002). Other researchers have noted the opposite, for example, there was an increase in some leisure activities such as gambling behaviour as people aged. Desai et al. (2004) concluded that older adult gamblers over 65 were more likely than younger adult gamblers to begin gambling after the age of 18 years, to gamble more frequently, and to report a larger maximum win.

Although many leisure activities have been found to be similar for many older men and women (Verbrugge et al., 1996), differences were also noted in the following areas: men were more likely to have greater numbers of repair jobs in progress around the house, and to drive the family car more often than women. They also devoted more time to active, outdoor, and sports-related pastimes (Lawton, 1993). Women on the other hand adopted a more nurturing or organizational role when dealing with their family, as well as spending more time in conversations with family and friends. Women also spent more time doing housework and were more interested in learning hobbies (McGuire et al., 2013). Moseley et al. (2003) concluded that people aged 65 and older, living in southern Nevada were more likely to gamble than younger age groups; and older females were more likely to gamble than younger females.

The variety of leisure activities engaged in by older people while on vacation has also been of interest to researchers. This was because participation in leisure activities encouraged tourists to engage in conversations that helped to facilitate social interaction, which was one of the strongest factors that contributed to leisure satisfaction (Thomas and Butts, 1998).

Wei and Millman (2002) were interested in determining if a person’s psychological well-being was positively affected by the variety of leisure activities that they engaged in while on a vacation trip. Data were collected from a sample of more than 300 senior travellers (of which 60.5% were older than 70 years) who were travelling on several 7-day North American escorted tour itineraries. The most popular activities that travellers participated in while on tour were city sightseeing (89.3%), visiting historical places (88.1%), restaurant dining (85.7%), and shopping (77.4%). Less popular activities were hunting and fishing (1.2%), water sports and sunbathing (1.2%), and camping and hiking (3.6%). Wei and Millman (2002) also found that a positive and significant relationship existed between senior travellers’ participation in leisure activities, their overall satisfaction with the travel experience, and their level of psychological well-being. As a result of their findings, the researchers concluded that marketing campaigns need to be developed that focused on the type and range of leisure activities that were provided at particular tourist destinations. This would help to ensure that the senior tourists’ satisfaction and psychological well-being were at a high level during their vacation.

Shopping was also identified as a favourite travel activity and has been acknowledged as a primary means of generating tourism revenue as well as contributing to economic development. Shopping is the number one trip activity for both domestic and international tourists, and Travel Industry Association of America (2001) estimated that 34% of all trips by US tourists included shopping as a leisure activity. Shopping tourists also expressed strong preferences for shopping in unique or different kinds of stores where they could buy something special for others, or to hunt for a bargain (Kinley et al., 2003).

Littrell et al. (2004) surveyed 146 travellers who were aged 50 and older to investigate their shopping behaviour. These tourists were primarily female (73%) and ranged in age from 52 to 90, with an average age of 65 years. Cluster analysis revealed three groups of senior tourists with significantly different scores on each of the three tourism activity factors: Cluster 1 was labelled ‘active outdoor and cultural tourists’; cluster 2 was named ‘cultural tourists’; and cluster 3 was titled ‘moderate tourists’. Senior travellers in both clusters 1 and 2 enjoyed visiting museums, attending the theatre and eating at interesting local restaurants. This suggested to researchers that retail shops should be placed beside different cultural events, such as museum shops and kiosks in theatre lobbies. For senior travellers with an average age of 65 years, shopping was seen as a very important activity that was often integrated with other travel interests. Shopping at malls was regarded as especially important for senior travellers, who regarded the cleanliness of the mall and the service provided as important for those aged between 50 and 90 years. A further suggestion from this study was that malls and retailers should display works of art that were indigenous to the particular destination, so as to further enhance the shopping experience (Littrell et al., 2004).

What is tourism?

The word ‘tourism’ was first used late in the era that was associated with the ‘grand tour’, when young men from the English wealthy classes were sent on extensive tours of Europe as an educational rite of passage. This occurred from around 1660

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