Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Have Pension Will Travel

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Have Pension Will Travel

Article excerpt

You cannot drive the highways and byways of this country these days without encountering an ever-increasing number of motor vehicles driven by senior adults, often proudly displaying the bumper sticker "We're spending our children's inheritance." Countless retirement studies have found that travel is ranked by senior adults as their number one choice of retirement activity. Senior adults are choosing to enjoy their retirement years and spend their retirement dollars by traveling about the country and the world. These senior travelers are representative of the "graying of America," a demographic trend that is significantly affecting the travel and tourism industry, as well as those who program recreation for senior adults.

Consider the following:

* According to 1988 travel industry statistics, 21 percent of all trips taken in the United States were by those over the age of 55.

* During the fiscal years of 1989-1991, nearly 1.25 million Golden Age Passports were issued to adults aged 62 and older. These passports entitle the bearer to "free lifetime entrance to parks, monuments, recreation areas and national wildlife refuges administered by the Federal government which charge entrance fees as well as providing a 50 percent discount on Federal user fees charged for facilities and services such as camping, guided tours, boat launching and parking."

* Between 200,000 and 300,000 adults over the age of 60 participate in Elderhostel programs each year. Elderhostel is a program that combines education and travel for older adults at sites in every state and in 50 countries. The type of experiences offered by this organization are shared in the following account by a veteran Elderhostel couple:

We've carved linoleum; found a

beaver dam; climbed around

mountains, temples in India, a

Roman bath in Wales and over the

remains of an amphitheater in England;

sailed on Loch Lowan in Scotland;

ridden in an ancient outrigger

canoe in a bay out of a palm-shaded

lagoon near Kuna, Hawaii; and

found giant pinecones at 7,000 feet

in Idlewild, Colorado. Ed played

jazz piano with fellow students at

two Elderhostels at Chapel Hill,

North Carolina, and in shows on

Friday nights at many other

Elderhostels. We've enjoyed

cookouts at programs in Amherst,

Massachusetts, and Lyndon, Vermont,

and a luau in Hawaii. We've

sat on the lawn drinking coffee at

Cambridge University, danced

English dances and sung Welsh

songs, drunk Scottish scotch, and

became hula experts. We learned

how to wear a sari and eat with our

fingers in India. There they

venerate older people, so when we

become old we'll visit india again.

* Senior adults are the major consumers of both luxury travel and budget excursions, according to Ken Dychtwald in Age Wave. In fact, 80 percent of the luxury travel in the United States is purchased by people over the age of 55. Dychtwald also reported that seniors are increasingly seeking new types of travel such as adventure travel, ecotourism and educational tours and that they, in general, spend more money on travel and recreation than any other age group.

* The Colorado Tourism Board, representing a state that counts tourism as its number one industry, reports that more than 20 percent of the visitors to Colorado are over the age of 55. These older visitors have been found to participate most in the activities of touring, gambling and skiing and they travelled, on the average, 1,000 + miles to visit Colorado.

* 24 percent of the 1992 visitors to Deadwood, South Dakota, (known for its gambling and historical sites) were retirees. Visitors to Deadwood were most often from the states of Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. …

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