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Leisure travels and well-being amongst the elderly: new theoretical approaches

Authors: J J Zhang*, Nanyang Technological University
Topics: Tourism Geography, Cultural Geography, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: elderly well-being, lesiure travels, mobility, tourism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This exploratory paper seeks to propose new ways to understand the relationships between leisure travels and senior travelers' subjective well-being through a qualitative, person-centred perspective. Existing literature on travel and tourism amongst older people mostly adopt market-driven approaches and quantitative methodologies. Due to the lucrative potential of the so called ‘silver market’, tourism studies have concentrated on exploring issues such as travel motivations, preferences, behavior, satisfaction, and marketing strategies. Such studies assume the increase in purchasing power and the availability of time for travelling amongst the elderly who are increasingly being represented by the baby boomer generation. As Morgan et al. (2015: 2) lamented, ‘Such scrutinizing of older people’s tourism motivation presupposes that it is possible and desirable to generalize their travel behaviour and can actually confirm stereotypes.’ Moreover, these market-centric studies do not give enough attention to tourism’s associations with elderly’s well-being, and are ‘distanced and quantitative’ (Nimrod, 2008). In order to address these lacunae, the paper suggests a possibility to turn to contemporary studies on mobility that adopt a humanistic perspective (e.g. Cresswell, 2010; Jensen 2013; Bissell, 2014) in order to provide some inspirations to the understanding of elderly leisure travels. The focus on the socio-cultural meanings and experience of movement for the individual is potentially useful in helping to examine the connections between leisure travels and perceived well-being amongst the elderly.

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