As times change, the typical young tourist with a backpack that was a common site in Asia has been replaced by an older, more mature version. And though no backpack is present, but money and time to spare, the middle age tourist is trying more and more to discover Asia’s secrets.
“This is a major growing sector for us,” said Karan Anand, an executive at New Delhi-based tour company Cox and King’s. “Older people with their pension sorted out often plan their lives around a yearly holiday to interesting places.”
This new breed of tourists is focused more on cultural and historical facts of the sights rather then fun, as the younger generation was.
“Older people seek a learning experience, combined with an easy pace,” he said. “And they appreciate a proper, expert guide to explain what is around them.”
Although data is scarce, apparently 103,000 British residents with ages between 55 and 64 travelled to India in 2009, and 51,000 went to China according to statistics.
“I started my company to take young professionals abroad for adventurous holidays, but then realised I was getting lots of calls from their parents,” said Tom Barber, owner of London-based Original Travel. “People jokingly call them ‘SKIERS’, which stands for Spending the Kids’ Inheritance, and they certainly want a piece of the action. One key element is the relative fitness of older people now. It is remarkable how many are up for thrill-packed safaris or other challenges.”
As food and hygiene have improved and hotel standards have been raised, the fear factor among tourists travelling to Asia has been reduced, this being a good explanation for the infusion of serious tourists.