Greece may be associated with the characteristic diptych “sun + sea” in the consciousness of its visitors around the world, however our country is offered for all forms of tourism, 365 days a year. “In 2010, senior tourism absorbed 15%, but between 2030-2050 it will reach 35%,” Costas Lalenis, professor of Urban Planning at the University of Thessaly, told GRTimes.gr.
An important opportunity for the Greek economy can be senior tourism or Silver Tourism, as according to research by the independent, non-profit research organization diANEOsis on the Silver Economy presented at the Daily Health Summit, it can contribute 13.6 billion euros and an additional 173,000 jobs over five years. As it was pointed out based on data presented by the Head of Research of diANEOsis Fay Makantasi, 1/3 of the total expenditure of European tourists in the coming years will come from people aged 65 and over. Additionally, parallel services including wellness tourism can boost GDP by 13.5 billion euros and 171,000 jobs; spa tourism by 2 billion euros and 25.6 thousand jobs; long-stay tourism can strengthen GDP by 1.1 billion euros and support 11,000 jobs; and medical tourism can generate a 1.5-billion-euro increase in GDP and support 20,000 new jobs.
Senior and health tourism are now an important part of the global tourism industry, said diaNEOsis analysts, underlining the need for immediate actions that will pave the way for multiple benefits.
The report cites as advantages Greece’s fair weather, natural offerings, geographical location within Europe, EU health coverage and pension policies, low cost of living, large tourism market, and specialized medical and health professionals and services.
“Older tourists are usually retired and their holiday time is much longer than usual,” he told GRTimes . Costas Lalenis, professor of urban planning at the University of Thessaly, is also responsible for the urban planning of the new project of the Kourtidis Group, Alexandrou Chora, which will be developed on the beach of Ofrini in Kavala.
He explains that in addition to the classic “sun, sea, food”, senior tourists are also interested in cultural, historical and archaeological tourism. “They are interested in cultural activities, spas, wellness alternatives”
In fact, it is stressed that today’s elderly have different characteristics than in the past: they are healthier, spend more money, travel more often and stay more days in destinations further away from their place of residence. They need good quality services, due to previous travel experiences, i.e. they have a better understanding of what quality means
Senior tourism is divided into short-term tourism and so-called snowbird tourism, where visitors stay for a long time, rent or buy a house.
According to data from the Silver Tourism survey conducted by diANEOsis, if Greece aims to capture 15% of the Northern European second home market for retirees, then we will need 400,000 homes in the next 20 years.
From the sale or long-term rental of 20,000 homes per year and with new owners spending an average of 6 months per year in our country, the impact on GDP will be more than 5 billion euros per year and will create approximately 60,000 new jobs.
By May 2023, the Alexandrou Chora Resort, the first of two luxury hotels to be built by the Kourtidis Group, which will invest a total of some 60 to 65 million euros to complete the multiplex tourist complex it has designed, Alexandrou Chora, in Ofrinio, Kavala, will be ready.
At the official presentation of this major project, which took place as part of the Kourtidis Group’s participation in the 36th Philoxenia, it was said that the design of the entire complex has been completed, that the infrastructure work has begun and that, within the next two months, the building permit for the first of the four sub-projects that make up Alexandrou Chora, the Alexandrou Chora Resort Hotel, should be issued.
As was pointed out during the presentation, with the creation of the Village, the Group will target the so-called silver tourism, i.e. people whose holidays are not seasonal, who are interested in the historical and cultural character of the areas they visit and who have a lot of free time.
The complex will have 16 tennis courts, numerous other sports facilities, swimming pools, spas, visitor service shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. Alexandrou Chora will be modern, green, smart and accessible, and there will be no cars inside.
Indeed, the attraction of senior tourism will be a pillar of development for the region, while at the same time upgrading it and providing it with significant future economic benefits. In addition to the houses of Alexandrou village, all the necessary open and public spaces and public facilities, the road and pedestrian network will be configured, while the construction of all the technical infrastructure necessary for its operation as an autonomous establishment will be included, always interacting with the adjacent activities of the neighbouring agglomeration.
As far as the origin of the elderly tourists is concerned, apart from the intense tourist interest from the Balkan and Central European countries, there has been an interest in cooperation for the village of Alexandrou from the Scandinavian countries and, as Mr. Lalenis mentions, the area is also suitable for archaeological tourism with the Philippi, the ancient Amphipolis, the Byzantine castles, etc., and for the gentle development of agritourism with Mount Paggaio, for thermal tourism with the thermal baths of the Libre, etc.
Health tourism is another important segment, that contains three distinct subcategories: medical, therapeutic, and wellness tourism. The OECD defines medical tourism as the activity that occurs when “consumers elect to travel across international borders with the intention of receiving some form of medical treatment.” An estimated 5-14 million persons travel each year for medical reasons, generating tens of billions of euros of revenues for host countries. According to the Global Wellness Institute, an estimated 7% of local and international travel is pursued for medical and health reasons. In 2013 alone, Thailand attracted 1.3 million patients, Mexico 1 million, the USA 800,000, Singapore 600,000 and India 400,000. Turkey, with 42 internationally certified medical tourism hospitals, welcomed more than 600,000 patients. In comparison, Greece attracts no more than 85,000 medical tourists a year.
The average medical tourist in Greece is between 45 and 55 years old, has a mid- to high income, stays for seven days, and brings a companion—together, they spend 5,000 EUR, versus 1,500 EUR for the average tourist pair. Medical and therapeutic tourism can add approximately 13.6 billion EUR to Greek GDP and create 173,000 jobs over a five-year period. Wellness tourism, which addresses a younger cohort, can generate another 13.6 billion EUR and 171,000 jobs over the same period
Some progress has been made. The newly-minted Greek Medical Tourism Council, is a NGO with private sector partners from health, tourism, insurance, and marketing sectors that is dedicated to promoting medical tourism. Similar efforts are spearheaded by the Greek Health Tourism Association the Greek Medical Association, and the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece. More specialized clusters are popping up, including the Athens Dental Tourism Cluster and the Athena Health Tourism Cluster.
The South Aegean Region, the Rhodes Hospital and the Rhodes School of Assistant Nurses collaborated in the implementation of the health tourism program for silver people with medical problems (Alzheimer’s, dementia, mobility problems). This new form of tourism aimed at facilitating seniors with health problems, but also their relatives, to take vacations and at the same time have the medical care they need. Greece, and especially Rhodes, have an appropriate climate most of the time, which works beneficially for the health of tourists/residents, such as people with respiratory problems. It should be noted that in 2016 there was an increase in arrivals of the elderly with medical problems in Rhodes and specific actions have been done to attract senior tourists from Sweden and northern Europe in general, such as participation in the international tourism exhibition “Senior 2016” in Stockholm.
Annie Karolidou, «Alexandrou Chora : L’investissement touristique thématique de 65 millions d’euros à Ofrynio, Kavala », GRTimes, 12 November 2021. https://www.grtimes.gr/oikonomia/epixeiriseis/alexandrou-chora-h-thematiki-toyristiki-ependysi-ton-65
Depi Chiotopoulou, “ Silver Tourism : 13,6 milliards d’euros pour le tourisme senior en Grèce », GRTimes, 26 November 2021. https://www.grtimes.gr/ellada/asimenios-toyrismos-13-6-dis-eyro-gia-tin
European Comission, “Good pratices in silver tourism: focus on Greece”, Silver Tour, 26 November 2021. https://www.esilvertour.eu/news-and-events/news-09.html
GTP editing team, “Study: Senior and Health tourism should be Greece’s next priority”, GTP, 18 August 2021. https://news.gtp.gr/2021/08/18/study-senior-and-health-tourism-should-be-greeces-next-priority/
Thodoris Georgakopoulos, “Senior and health tourism: missed opportunities”, Dianeosis, July 2019. https://www.dianeosis.org/en/2019/07/senior-and-health-tourism-missed-opportunities/
- GWI. (2017). Global Wellness Economy Monitor, January 2017. Miami, USA. ↑