Developing Senior Tourism in Remote Regions (TOURAGE)
Developing Senior Tourism in Remote Regions
Start date: Dec 31, 2011,
End date: Dec 30, 2014
Tourism is one of the fastest growing and among three biggest industries in Europe. Relatively remote regions have a lot of unexploited development potential on this sector. However, accelerating unfavourable demographic changes bring new challenges for many regions to stay competitive and create growth and new jobs. Regions also face challenges of securing universal right for all to be complete part of the society and enjoy healthy and active ageing. The population over 65 accounts currently around 17 % but is expected to reach 23% before 2030 in Europe. Population ageing does not only bring challenges, but also offers possibilities. E.g. senior citizens have become a consumerist group of emergent business possibilities. Economically more diverse and sustainable regional economy (including tourism) requires new and innovative ways to take this growing segment into account. However, there is many innovations that are newly deployed or under construction. E.g. Warmia Park Thermal Medical Center and ""Forever young -program"" (Warmia-Mazury) combines the needs of elderly tourists and local know-how and other services. A target that combines beach, environment, gastronomy and tradition together (East Macedonia and Thrace), will respond efficiently to the needs of all tourists, but also to the needs of ageing travellers. In North Karelia, wellbeing sector has long tradition on developing welfare services for elderly people which could be often exploited in tourism sector as well. In spite of many innovations and good practices the fragmented and loose tourism cluster and networks requires more studying and anticipating. In this project the innovative applications of the field will be disseminated and exchanged among partners. Functional methods, procedures and technologies (good practices) will be swap with actors involved. This will be done by joint interregional workshops. Also study visits to multiple targets will be carried out. In addition, the information will be gathered by small customer feedback form. The project aims to increase the ability of partners to transform innovative applications into economic and employment benefits of the region and to secure that tourism services will be attainable to all. Results of the project help to develop new policy tools for regions. During the project, the awareness and acknowledging of the need of age-sensitive tourism products will be increased among actors, especially among regional decision-makers and politicians. The dissemination of the results will reach all relevant actors in the partner regions and also in national level. As a result, new policy solutions will be available and at use all over EU. Achievements: Tourage -project has the overall purpose to improve sustainable regional economy by developing senior tourism. It also aims to support active and healthy aging through the exchange of good practices and experiences between partner regions. In its first reporting period (Jan-June 2012), the project focused on organizing the management of the project, identifying good practices on senior tourism in partner regions, compiling regional analyses of tourism and demographic change as well as on communication activities. Members for the projects Steering Committee (SC), Management Group (MG) and Working Group (WG) were selected in spring 2012. The projects kick-off meeting was organised in North Karelia, Finland on 19th - 22nd March 2012, during which the Project Management Manual, Communication Plan and Methodology Handbook for exchanging experiences were presented. The meeting coincided with the conference Perspectives on Ageing… High-level Conference on Health and Long-term Care which offered an opportunity to disseminate the project to the wide European interest group. The projects first study visit took place on 21st -22nd March in North Karelia. In the study visit, the partners learned about Wellness Tourism and Green Care services in Nevalan Perinnetila farm, accessible tourism in Koli National Park and Karelia a la Carte Network among others. In addition, the first WG and SC meetings were held during the kick-off event. The projects second study visit took place in Vidzeme, Latvia on 12th-14th June 2012. During the visit, partners visited Līgatne rehabilitation center and Valmiera museum and received wide information on the local activists and offers for seniors. The first MG meeting and the second WG meeting were also organised in Vidzeme in order to minimize travel expenditures. The good practices on senior tourism in partner regions were presented at the WG meeting. Altogether 59 preliminary good practices were identified in this reporting period. During the project these good practices will be analysed more detailed and altogether 36 good practices will be selected. During the first six months, the projects Facebook and Skype groups as well as project logo were created. The projects website (www.tourage.eu) and intranet are under construction and will be launched in autumn 2012. Drafts of the project leaflet and roll-ups in each language version have been made and will be finished before the first annual conference (September 2012). The projects first newsletter was published in June in English and it will be translated to the partner regions' languages. The templates for collecting information on opportunities and challenges of tourism and demographic change in the regions were completed. Partners are currently collecting data for the analyses. During the reporting period, a customer feed-back survey was drafted. With the questionnaire partners will collect user-driven information from local seniors. Between Jan-June 2012, the partners organized or participated in several dissemination events to inform about the project. Information has also been spread through several articles on newspapers and internet portals.
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