Czech travel agencies have noted a steady rise in clients over the age of sixty, reflecting increased spending power among seniors looking to enjoy – in many cases –a long overdue foreign holiday. With the population rapidly ageing, this demographic will be an ever-greater part of agencies’ clientele. And a demanding one, at that.
The generation just now entering retirement age grew up during the so-called Normalisation period of communism, when foreign travel was both a privilege and a luxury, even within the Eastern bloc. Many are now looking to make up for lost time. On average, they also have more money to explore the world than previous generations of retirees.
Jan Bezděk, head of marketing at the Fischer travel agency, says most seniors are looking to experience as much as they can of the local culture and sites while abroad.
“When booking a trip, seniors tend to ask directly about a range of possibilities in the area, for example about what day trips are available. They don’t want to just sit on the beach or in a hotel resort all week. So, in this respect, this group of clients actually take more active holidays than do families with children or young couples.”
According to the latest OECD Economic Survey, the Czech Republic is among the fastest ageing countries in Europe with the ratio of retirees to workers set to rise from 28 percent in 2016 to a peak of 56 percent in the year 2058. As such, seniors are travel agencies’ fastest-growing clientele: about 1 in 5 new clients is a retiree.
Seniors tend to be more demanding clients in terms of wanting extras beyond just booking a room, Petr Kostka, business director at Exim Tours. Many expect such evening programmes and day trips to be included in holiday package, but they also spend more on average than young families or couples.
Czech retirees also tend to travel outside the peak season – especially in the late spring/early summer and early autumn – both to avoid crowds and take advantage of special offers, says Mr Kostka.
“Seniors mainly look for off-season offers. The resorts are not crowded, and there are fewer people on the beaches. And mainly, there are excellent offers at those times. Seniors also look for other benefits, such as discounted rooms and free excursions. In the off-season, many hotels and resorts also organise special programmes for seniors.”
According to the Czech Association of Travel Agents, retirees are holidaying outside of Europe more often, with Asian destinations such as Thailand and cities in the Middle East increasingly popular. But nostalgia for childhoods spent in the countryside is also drawing older Czech tourists to rent cottages, both at home and in the neighbouring Alps of Austria.