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Low season tourism

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.  

In May 2012, the Commission launched a pilot phase of a 'Senior Tourism Initiative'. This pilot phase aims to define the framework conditions to enhance transnational travel during off-peak times for seniors in Europe, contributing to the competitiveness of the industry. In particular, strong partnerships between the public and private sector, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could be set up to offer competitive packages.

Since 2014, extended discussions and actions have also been deployed to enhance off-season travel for young people.

Actions

Workshop on low/medium season tourism for seniors and youth in Europe

workshop held in Brussels in June 2015 aimed to promote 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) with regard to the challenge of tourism seasonality was also examined.

The workshop raised awareness of issues related to facilitating cooperation between stakeholders in the long-run development of innovative solutions to increase off-season travel for senior and young travellers.

Call for proposals 2015

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.

Call for proposals 2014

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.

Coordinating organisation

Project

YOUTH - Europe Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute (Lithuania)

Valuable Opportunities You Are Given in Europe (VOYAGE)pdf Choose translations of the previous link  (261KB)

YOUTH - X23 Srl; Mr Giuseppe Laquidara (Italy)

EUMillennialsTOURpdf Choose translations of the previous link  (114KB)

SENIOR - Tourismusverband Linz (Austria)

Participatory Baroque Festival European region Danube-Vltava (BAROQUE EXPERIENCE)pdf Choose translations of the previous link  (185KB)

SENIOR- University of Pannonia (Hungary)

Off to Spaspdf Choose translations of the previous link  (25KB)

SENIOR - European Cyclists' Federation (Belgium)

Silver Cyclistspdf Choose translations of the previous link  (213KB)

SENIOR - MarketingOost, Henry Zwiers and Elizabeth Stoit (The Netherlands)

Hansatourpdf Choose translations of the previous link  (49KB)

SENIOR - St Paterakis & Co LP (Greece)

Meet Nature: A tourism product for seniors to experience nature through creative and playful learningpdf Choose translations of the previous link  (217KB)

SENIOR - Fandango Tour Srl. (Italy)

SEnior TOURism: Discovering European Territories through Golf and Wine, SE.TOUR Choose translations of the previous link  (433KB)

Call for proposals 2013

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.

'Facilitating cooperation mechanisms to increase senior tourists' travels within Europe and from third countries in the low and medium seasons’ – a report

The report, 'Facilitating cooperation mechanisms to increase senior tourists' travels within Europe and from third countries in the low and medium seasonspdf Choose translations of the previous link ' (351 kB) and annex 1, 'Demographic change and the rise of senior touristspdf Choose translations of the previous link ' (450 kB), was drafted in cooperation with a group of experts. It gathers knowledge on the senior tourism market. Its objective is to set up recommendations for strategic actions, identifying the role that different actors might play in their implementation.

This report is a practical document providing information on:

  • the senior tourism market, with a particular emphasis on the market’s main characteristics
  • tourism product development
  • the opportunities offered by non-EU countries’ markets
  • governance and financing opportunities.

Action Plan and Steering Committee

The Report was followed by a draft Action Plan. It was distributed to the general public and private stakeholders at the beginning of July 2014 for comments and contributions that were discussed in a workshop in October 2014. 

The Commission launched a Call for Expressions of Interest to set up a 'European Union Low Season Tourism Initiative Board' (EULSTIB) for the period 2015-2016. The board was set up on 24 November 2014 to define a road map and ensure the guidance, coordination and monitoring of the activities undertaken under the Action Plan in close collaboration with the Commission. The board members are experts from governments, the private sector, European industry, academia and civil society.

Background

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