For instance, take 74-year-old Omprakash Khandelwal. He made his first foreign trip to London only after retirement in 2001 and since then he has made a couple of overseas tours. The former transport professional says that before retirement, time was a constraint and all that he could manage was inland travel. "With not many responsibilities on me anymore, I have ample time to loosen up and explore places," he says.
Khandelwal is among a growing number of senior travelers who have confidently taken to outbound travel and do not see age as a barrier. Travel agencies see this Gen-S as a gold mine of opportunity. Over the recent years, the number of seniors packing their bags and taking off on vacations has gone up. The segment is growing by 15%, say industry players.
Holiday planners have begun designing packages to cater to the special needs of the senior citizens by including customized meals, on-trip medical assistance and elder-friendly hotels. A big plus is that at overseas locations, monuments, theme parks and other attractions have special access for the elderly. At Thomas Cook India, senior travelers account for 27% of its holiday business.
Retired senior citizens are the new globetrotters. Unlike earlier when older people chose to spend a quiet life after retirement, senior citizens are now eager to see the world. With enough money saved and not having to provide for their independent children, the seniors are splurging on holidays. In many cases, Indians working abroad are sponsoring their elderly parents' trips.
Karan Anand, head (relationships), Cox & Kings, says, "This segment is formed by tourists who are retired, have enough money saved and their children are independent. They have more free time compared to those who are still working."
The trend of seniors going on leisure trips, which has been a common feature among westerners for a long time, is now also gaining popularity among elderly Indians. A Frost & Sullivan and Amadeus report pointed out that there will be 7.3 million outbound senior travelers from India by 2030.
The growing awareness among seniors to ensure they are physically fit and their flexible schedules allow them to opt for long holidays as against their younger counterparts. It is also seen that most of the elderly prefer travelling in a group as it provides them with security as well as company.