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 on long stays and with a larger budget.
The boom in the “senior-plus” segment
The Department of Tourism, Industry and Trade of the Government of the Canary Islands, through the Tourist Board of the Canary Islands, has launched an action plan aimed at attracting “senior plus” tourism i.e. people over the age of 55 who wish to have a long-term holiday. The objective of the strategy is to double spending by senior tourists on the islands, in order to reach medium-term spending of 770 million euros per year. “Take a break in the country with the best climate in the world”here is the name of the action plan presented by the Minister of Tourism, Yaiza Castilla.
In the medium term, the ministry plans to attract 200,000 visitors over the age of 55 every year and to ensure that 770 million euros are spent on the islands each year. Before the pandemic, the Canary Islands received 131,600 senior visitors with an average expenditure per trip of 2,907 euros, more than double the expenditure of an average tourist (1,137 euros).
The “senior-plus” visitor is part of one of the three most important tourist segments for the Canary Islands, followed by teleworkers and sports tourists. The Canary Islands Tourist Board will allocate a budget to these segments of 1.5 million euros in 2022, i.e. more than 500,000 euros for “senior-plus” tourism. In 2021, an additional budget of approximately 250,000 euros has been allocated for the month of December.
We have already started to position ourselves in the minds of consumers and we will soon have the first results of the “senior-plus” tourist offer. The project is extended to all regions of Spain. A significant part of the campaign will help position the Canary Islands as the ideal long-stay destination for ‘senior-plus’ travellers. This segment aims to be less dependent on air connectivity and to consume in an eco-responsible way. “Spending by senior tourists is generally higher and better distributed across the region, which allows the Canary Islands to better control the tourist offer.
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 world consumption, a segment often described by experts as a new economic driver. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that the population aged 60 and over will achieve more two billion international trips in 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 represented more than 4,500,000 visitsor 34% of the total number of visitors to the Canary Islands and 5.36 billion euros in spending, or 35.52% of total tourist spending on the archipelago.
In the medium term, the objective of the action plan is to reach 200,000 “senior-plus” tourists each year. This would represent a 50% increase. The plan also aims to extend average stays and thus increase annual spending, which would double from 383 million euros to 770 million. The “senior-plus” tourist chooses the Canary Islands as holiday destination due to its geography, landscapes, gastronomy, hiking trails, as well as the commercial and cultural offer.
The average stay for seniors is 50 days, compared to nine 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 accommodation themselves (54.1%). They often travel in pairs, visit more than one island, and are more likely to return. They are savvy tour operators, visiting wineries, markets, museums and enjoying Canarian food.
The “senior-plus” tourism action plan uses different means of communication that allow it to target customers, without “aging” the image of the Canary Islands. The Director of Communication and Marketing Projects for Canarian Tourism, Alberto Ávila, explains: “The objective will be to generate branded journalistic content, focused on the destination, based on its simple and friendly lifestyle, on the advantages to having the best climate in the world throughout the year and on guarantees in terms of personal health and safety. As part of a value-added sponsored content campaign, the strategy aims to link the tourist offer of the Canary Islands for the “senior-plus” tourist to the information published in the main media.