SORT refers to the abbreviation: Seniors on Reciprocal Tourism. It is a multilateral project involving 8 EU partners from South Eastern Europe. The main idea is to design, trial, evaluate, document, diffuse and valorize a new touristic package and service for tourists +55 (years).
The main objective is to facilitate the mobility of senior adults towards the partners’ local communities by giving them the properties of a wanderer-guest, as well as that of a volunteer.
Senior tourists will have the opportunity to share their knowledge and skills on a field they master, either professionally or by hobby. Also the hosting partners will organize for them touristic and educational activities. The receivers of the ‘knowledge’ will be individuals and groups from the local community of the hosting partners, such as students, youth, women, people with special needs etc. In this way, a new form of tourism will be developed that will involve mutual giving and receiving; Project partners will adapt the model into their regular activities, thus expected to enhance the flow of senior tourists and to facilitate the prolongation of touristic flow especially during the low touristic seasonality.
Within the project framework partners will elaborate different local hosting programs for the seniors and for the local community, will meet in person to present them to the others, will test them in pilot implementations and will assess and evaluate the results. Finally they will develop a guide containing the description of the whole process.
The model will be disseminated widely in partner’s regions to other seniors in an effort to involve future participants. The entire project will be also promoted to a number of international tourism fairs.
Since 1960 life expectancy has climbed by eight years. Demographic projections foresee a further five-year increase over the forty years. Together with the low birth rates, Europe’s population is living longer and in better life, thus, is ageing fast and in good conditions.
Furthermore, the current demographic trends show that the proportion of senior citizens is bound to constantly increase. The European Statistical Office projects that by 2060 there will be only two people of working age (15–64) in the EU for every person aged over 65, compared to a ratio of four to one today. The strongest push in this direction is expected to occur during the period 2015–2035 when the baby boomers, who were born in the two decades after World-War II, start to retire.
Although ageing is perceived by many as a threat and the growing number of older people is seen as a burden on the working-age population, these fears neglect the fact that a growing number of older people are in good health, have valuable skills and experience and are willing to make a significant contribution to society, a contribution from which other people and/or structures can strongly benefit.
Allowing people to stay active as they grow older and to continue contributing to society is a key to tackling the challenge of demographic ageing as well as to maintain the human capital of EU alive and useful. Active ageing is not just about the participation of older workers in the labor market; it’s about their active contribution to society through voluntary-type work or relevant social involvement, which may result to the support productivity and enhance social cohesion, two out of three key priorities of Commission’s “Europe 2020” political strategy.
Since 2008 the European Union has experienced a difficult economic and financial crisis, which has had considerable political effects, has challenged the social and economic progress made by EU countries and has injured the EU citizens’ cohesion. The economic recovery which started in 2010 must be accompanied by a series of development actions in order to counteract the crisis and to bring social progress and sustainable growth of the EU in the coming decade.
Tourism sector can play an important role as a driving force of economic development. Given the complexity of tourism consumption, its economic impact is felt widely in other production sectors, contributing in each case toward achieving the aims of accelerated growth, including the increase of the employment rate. It is also an increasingly important aspect in the life of European citizens, more and more of whom are travelling, either for leisure or business. Tourism is also an important instrument for reinforcing Europe’s and European Union’s image in its citizens themselves, as it can projects the specific characteristics of each country/region/local community, enlightens similar and/or different customs, values, ethics, languages and cultures, facilitates the circulation of miscellaneous social policies, practices and approaches, reveals people’s creativity and generates new viewpoints for the enhancement of the common European identity and European citizenship.
The senior tourism has a lot of potential for being the growth motor for the tourism market in the future and can become a critical factor in lengthening the tourist season. Already in the last years the growth was pushed by senior citizens. However, as Commission stated, ‘the senior group potential is not fully exploited yet: seniors between 55 and 75 are often wealthy enough to travel, but only 41% of them currently do so. Moreover 7 out of 10 seniors exclusively undertake domestic trips. Therefore, there is clearly not only a potential for increasing the number of seniors travelling in their domestic markets but also for them to travel to other countries’.
The SENIORS OR RECIPROCAL TOURISM (abbreviated SORT) project addresses the specific challenge and scope of the topic, as set out in COSME Work Program 2015 by focusing on the enhancement of the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the senior tourism sector in 7 European Countries/regions, namely in countries located in SE Europe (BG/Varna, HU/Pécs-Baranya, IT/Ascoli Piceno-Marche, RO/Malovat-Mehedinti, SI/Litija-Sava, HR/Pazin-Istria and GR/Larisa-Thessaly), regions that face some kind of geographical and economic disadvantages.
The foreseen project is expected to contribute to the COSME Program in terms of encouraging the creation of a favorable environment for the development of undertakings in the senior tourism sector and of promoting a sustainable trans-national cooperation among 7 EU countries for the realization of these undertakings.
This site is part of the project SORT which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020). The content of this site represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility; it cannot be considered to reflect the views of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises or any other body of the European Union. The European Commission and the Agency do not accept any responsibility for use that may be made of the information it contains.
SORT – Seniors On Reciprocal Tourism
EU co-financing period is from March 2016 – August 2017
Grant Agreement Number: 699414