TOURAGE was introduced in the Committee of the Regions

Friday, October 18, 2013

On 1st October took place the NAT Commission meeting at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels where also social tourism was on the agenda. Dr. Pentti Hyttinen, Region Mayor of North Karelia, was invited to the meeting to discuss the regional aspects of social tourism. Hyttinen introduced the TOURAGE project in the meeting as an example on senior tourism development. He highlighted the demographic change in Finland as an example of ageing and noted that ageing is an ongoing trend in Europe. These changes in the demography have an effect on the needs of consumers and as seniors are constantly growing consumer group it is important to acknowledge them in the tourism sector.

He also pointed out two aspects that emphasize the possibilities relating to development of tourism offer for the youth, disabled, families and seniors. Relating to social point of view it was discussed that tourism targeted to the above mentioned groups promotes health and wellbeing, active ageing and offers equal opportunities for all, hence, it can reduce overall social and health care costs and decrease exclusion.      

Relating to regional development aspects there is also a lot of opportunities. Social tourism promotes low and off-season tourism and consequently generates income for enterprises throughout the year, increases employment and decreases transfers of income. Importantly, it also offers possibility to attract more visitors to the less known tourism areas and increases their visibility internationally. Senior tourism development also promotes the positive image of the “age friendly region”.

In the meeting, Hyttinen stated that North Karelia has plenty of development potential in this regard. He mentioned that seniors, persons with disabilities and allergic persons usually appreciate accessibility, safeness, tranquility, fresh air, and laid-back atmosphere. In North Karelia there are plenty of destinations which fulfill those criteria, so the region has a lot to offer for travelers from Finland and abroad. For the entrepreneurs it would offer possibility to improve business during low and off-season and, thus, enhance the sustainability of the tourism sector.      

In addition to Pentti Hyttinen, Danny Silva from eCalypso initiative, Cinzia de Marzo from European Commission and Ana Fructuoso from Autonomous Community of Murcia presented aspects on social tourism in the meeting.