'Silver' tourists may become travel goldmine

Updated: 2015-09-15 08:58

By Su Zhou(China Daily)

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'Silver' tourists may become travel goldmine

A family visits a garden in Bozhou, Anhui province, in autumn 2014. Liu Qinli / For China Daily

'Sensitive about price'

Her experience underlined a growing problem. One tour guide, who asked to be quoted anonymously, said the travel industry doesn't actively seek business from senior travelers because they pose too many risks while providing too little profit.

"They are quite sensitive about the price," the guide said. "Unlike young people who prefer starred hotels, delicious food and fancy places, seniors only want to visit the most famous scenic spots as part of an arranged package that includes accommodations and food."

She said one of the reasons tours for seniors are so cheap is that the accommodations are often of very low quality.

Retired teacher Zhou said she doesn't like starred hotels. "Hostels equipped with the most basic facilities such as air conditioning, television and hot water will do fine," she said.

The caliber of many guides is also low, partly because they have to pay tour companies to let them lead a group and are then forced to recoup the outlay via commission earned by directing travelers to specific, often expensive, stores where pressured buying is the norm.

According to The Paper, an online news portal in Shanghai, many travel companies have now abandoned the senior travel market.

Yu Changjiang, from the China Silver Industry Association, said the mindsets of senior tourists will have to change if the situation is to be resolved. "They need to understand that tourism is about purchasing services and enjoying the whole experience. They need to avoid group tours that cost nothing or very little. That could help to standardize market practices."

Things may be about to change, though, and senior tourists are likely to become more powerful as a result of growing demand. Ctrip said seniors, not younger people, would be the main force behind group travel in the future.

'Silver' tourists may become travel goldmine