Promoting tourism during the low season can stimulate economic growth and jobs in Europe. The European Commission has identified seniors and young people as groups that can travel easily during the low season. Reinforcing their contribution to tourism could help to overcome the challenge of seasonality and contribute to the competitiveness of the industry.
The European Commission aims to encourage the cooperation of all stakeholders involved in the senior and youth travel markets to make the most of potential opportunities to extend tourism seasons beyond traditional peak periods.
A workshop held in Brussels in June 2015 aimed at promoting the exchange of views and best practice among selected public and private stakeholders. The profile of the senior and youth tourism markets at EU level was outlined, as well as the opportunities these markets offer. The attractiveness for international inbound markets (China, Brazil and USA) who travel in Europe during low season was also examined.
The workshop also looked at ways to facilitate cooperation between stakeholders and allow the development of innovative solutions to increase off-season travel for senior and young travellers.
A call aimed at increasing tourism flows in the low and medium seasons for the senior and youth target groups is currently open.
The call is the first theme of a call under the COSME programme that aims to co-fund project partnerships that will facilitate the increase of tourism flows during these seasons, targeting seniors (any person over 55 years old) and youth, aged between 15 and 29.
A call, 'Facilitating EU transnational tourism flows for seniors and young people in the low and medium seasons' was launched in November 2014. The deadline for submitting applications was 15 January 2015.
8 projects have been co-financed (2 with a focus on the youth target group and 6 on seniors). Project implementation started between 1 July and 1 September 2015 and will last from 12 to 18 months. The impact of this action will be known at the beginning of 2017.
YOUTH - Europe Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute (Lithuania)
YOUTH - X23 Srl; Mr Giuseppe Laquidara (Italy)
SENIOR - Tourismusverband Linz (Austria)
SENIOR- University of Pannonia (Hungary)
Off to Spas (25KB)
SENIOR - European Cyclists' Federation (Belgium)
Silver Cyclists (213KB)
SENIOR - MarketingOost, Henry Zwiers and Elizabeth Stoit (The Netherlands)
SENIOR - St Paterakis & Co LP (Greece)
SENIOR - Fandango Tour Srl. (Italy)
The first call for proposals to facilitate transnational low season tourism exchanges in Europe encouraging Senior Citizens to travel was launched in June 2013.
Four projects were selected for funding, representing 17 EU countries. The implementation period started on 1 September 2014 and lasted 18 months.
Upon the Commission's request, the informal report, 'Facilitating cooperation mechanisms to increase senior tourists' travels within Europe and from third countries in the low and medium seasons' (351 kB) and annex 1, 'Demographic change and the rise of senior tourists' (450 kB), was drafted by a group of experts. The report gathers knowledge on the senior tourism market and presents a series of recommendations for strategic actions, identifying the role that different actors might play in their implementation.
The informal ad-hoc group 'European Union Low Season Tourism Initiative Board' (EULSTIB) was set up by the Commission in 2014 (on the basis of a call for expression of interest) with a mandate for the period 2015-2016. The group gathered together experts from governments, the private sector, European industry, academia and the civil society It provided guidance and expertise to the Commission on various aspects related to low season tourism. The group also participated to the production of informal report gathering knowledge, best practices and policy/business recommendations at EU level in order to increase the tourism demand in off-peak season and thereby contribute to improving tourism competitiveness.
The Calypso initiative was implemented over the period 2009-2012 to help disadvantaged people go on holiday while increasing tourism in the low season. The European Commission has funded a number of projects contributing to this aim. The focus was on four groups which are less constrained by vocational seasons, so they can help extend the tourism season and help create longer-lasting employment in the sector: underprivileged young adults (aged 18-30), people over 65 and pensioners who cannot afford to travel or are daunted by the challenges of organising a journey, families on low incomes, and people with disabilities.
Under this initiative, the European Commission funded, amongst others, 10 projects that created bilateral or multilateral exchange models, supporting travel for the target groups and the set-up of the B2B eCalypso platform. Created in 2013, this platform has become a market place that brings together organisations involved in sending the target groups on holiday or facilitating their departure with accommodation providers, especially in the low season. It is also a meeting place for the community of European social tourism stakeholders that offers a range of references on social tourism in Europe.
Senior citizens (those aged 55 years and over) represent 128 million people, around 25% of the European population. They often include individuals with purchasing power and leisure time, so they hold significant market potential. Existing regional or national programs could capitalise on this, and elements of these programs could be transferred to transnational (EU) level.
European youth (those aged 15 to 29) represent 96 million citizens - about one fifth of the total population (19.4%). Youth travel is one of the fastest growing and most dynamic markets of the global tourism sector