Interest in travel for those over 60 years old grew in 2018, and their passion for trips is expected to continue to increase this year, travel agencies said.
Lvmama, an online travel agency headquartered in Shanghai, said trips by seniors saw a year-on-year increase of 50 percent last year.
Senior travelers, on average, spent five days and 3,600 yuan ($530) on each trip.
The agency said that purchasing tour packages for seniors has become a popular choice for younger generations to show their care and love for parents.
About 60 percent of packages reserved for seniors on its platform were ordered by adult children who viewed them as gifts or bonuses for their elderly parents, the agency said.
Ctrip, another online travel agency, added: “Retired people and those seniors who are unemployed at home have abundant free time. Traveling is a good way to spend their time and is also good news for their children, who are busy with their own lives.”
Senior travelers, according to Ctrip, favor group tour packages over the self-guided ones popular among with younger people. More than 80 percent of the agency’s senior users purchased group tour packages over the past year.
Zhang Qi, a project director at Ctrip, said, “The group tours can make them more secure. Safety and being comfortable are always stressed by seniors, as well as the quality of the tour. They’ve recognized the defects of so-called low-priced packages. Now they also emphasize the social interaction and spiritual experiences of the trip.”
Domestically, the most popular destinations for seniors last year were Beijing; Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region; Xiamen in Fujian province; Guiyang in Guizhou province; and Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Ctrip said.
Senior travelers reached 858 overseas destinations in 74 countries and regions in 2018, with Thailand, Japan and Vietnam being their top choices, it said.
Cheng Lu, a 30-year-old from Beijing, ordered a package for her parents to visit Japan during the recent New Year holiday.
“The most important issue is definitely safety, so I chose a medium-priced package tour that cost about 10,000 yuan per person,” she said. “My mother and father helped take care of my newborn daughter the last few months. It was a good chance for them to relax.”
The number of seniors in China is expected to reach 255 million by 2020 with their spending expected to exceed 7 trillion yuan, which will help unleash the potential of a tourism market focusing on seniors, according to a blue book by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism released a guideline in October to encourage travel agencies to develop more packages tailored for seniors, as well as insurance products.