Broader benefits of tourism

Dr Christina Hagger presented at the International Travel and Tourism Research Association Conference in Melbourne over 25 to 27 June, on the broad benefits of local tourism, particularly for people who have retired.

Dr Hagger’s research focuses on the sense of purpose, social activity, perceived control and opportunities to construct a new identity that tourism provides, and its benefits in providing the novelty and complexity craved by the human mind.

Tourism can therefore generate social and health returns that considerably extend its economic benefits to communities.

Dr Hagger argues that while exotic, epic or extended travel has been suggested as a valuable mechanism for life-satisfaction and psychological health in retirement, the beneficial contribution of multiple tourism events, particularly short-term and local, may be just as effective and more achievable for many retirees.

The broader health benefits of tourism are accepted in many European countries which offer models of so-called ‘Social Tourism’, or government/agency supported tourism, for people who may not otherwise be able to travel. The social tourism agenda, developed initially with the aim of providing benefits of travel for disadvantaged groups, is now broadening to include ageing more generally. Policy makers in Europe and the UK are keenly observing the emerging evidence on the potential of local, supported tourism to deliver health benefits to the targeted populations, combined with the economic benefits delivered to communities.

Dr Hagger says an integrated approach would be required if Australia was to embrace social tourism for retirees, across health, ageing, tourism and potentially education portfolios.

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