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Tourism Constraints Among Seniors 14

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By: Catalina Cana (734784)

Shahad Binladen (738877)

Frederick Mbonu (741241)



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Dr. Paola Ossola

TABLE OF CONTENTS TOURISM CONSTRAINTS AMONG SENIORS 2 Introduction 3 Factors That Increase the Participation and Frequency of Travel Among Seniors 3 Constraints to senior travelers 6 Interpersonal, intrapersonal and structural constraints 6 Learned helplessness 8 Overcoming tourism constraints 9 Strategies to overcome the Constraints 10 Conclusion 12

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Elderly t ourism 5

Figure 2: Cons t raints 8



Constraints in leisure activities have recently formed a very important part leisure research. They have been extended to the non-participation of people in leisure travel. Most importantly, research has focused on the elderly or the seniors and the factors that hinder their travelling propensity. Seniors are an important population in the tourism industry because of their numbers continue to grow and they continue to participate in tourism activities. The United Nations predicts that by 2050 about two billion people will be older than 60 years and considering the travel propensity of seniors in countries such as Germany, this population will form a significant part of the tourism industry. The trend is similar in most countries with research showing that seniors have an increased importance for the tourism market. The growing trend of senior tourists has since attracted the attention from academics and practitioners especially since they make significant contribution to tourism economies. The general assumption for this trend is that seniors have a big share of discretionary income as well as enough time for leisure and travel. Also, researchers believe that seniors unlike the younger generation are likely to travel frequently and spend considerable amount of money, they also heavily rely on travel agents for assistance. Despite the numerous factors that influence the participation of seniors in tourism activities, constraints play an equally important role in influencing their involvement in these activities. However, the constraints can be negotiated or overcome through strategies such as package tours.

Factors That Increase the Participation and Frequency of Travel Among Seniors

There are several factors that increase the participation and frequency of travel among seniors. Losada et al., (2016) identify various factors that influence the frequency of travel among seniors. They state that although some of these factors may influence their participation, they do not necessarily influence the frequency of their travel. They include age, self-perceived factors such as health, economic status and time, gender and employment status. For instance, age determines seniors’ participation in tourist activities although there is a nonlinear relationship between the likelihood of travel and age in that age does not determine whether a person will have an increased frequency to travel. In terms of self-perceived factors such as economic status, the researchers realized that inexpensive trips encourage more seniors to travel than when the trips are expensive. Regarding gender, senior females are more likely to travel and engage in tourist activities as compared to male seniors. Although employment status affects senior’s participation, it is not proportional to their frequency of travel. This is based on the Continuity theory which posits that adults unlike the younger generation are likely to maintain the same activities, social relations and behaviors and therefore leisure even in old age is characterized by a high level of continuity (p,10).

Woo, Kim and Uysal (2016) state that the fact that tourism activities increase the quality of life (QoL) for elderly tourists is a factor that greatly influences their participation and frequency of travel. Quality of life is a concept that leisure researchers take very seriously although it is a variable that is difficult to measure. None the less, they use the Bottom-up spillover theory to explain the concept of QoL and further state that satisfaction with aspects of life such as social life, leisure life, material wealth, work life amount to quality of life. Therefore, specific experiences of travel and leisure activities contribute to various effects most of which improve the quality of life through satisfaction.

Cool Vector Concept Illustration On Elderly Stock Vector (Royalty Free)  404191054

Figure 1: Elderly tourism

Constraints to senior travelers

Interpersonal, intrapersonal and structural constraints

A constraint model that was developed by Torsten Hägerstrand hypothesized that time and space characterizes the concept of constraints. According to the geographer, activities are constrained by time and space prisms which consequently influence human behavior. It discusses biological limitations, interpersonal dimensions and opportunities for tourists to participate in various attractions (Huber, Milne and Hyde, 2018, p. 56). The initial discourse on tourism constraints emphasized on financial barriers as the reasons for non-participation or participation in tourism activities. Studies show that the behavior of senior citizens is significantly different from other groups and therefore the study of the constraints to the tourism activities are equally unique. Researchers have considered psychological and sociodemographic factors as the main constraints against their tourist activities. Seniors unlike other groups are continuously confronted with life events that modify or significantly constrain their tourism activities. They include factors such as health, children, migration, environment and inheritance. Huber, Milne and Hyde (2018, p, 59) identify the main constraints such as intra and interpersonal dimension and structural dimensions. Intrapersonal dimensions include health while interpersonal dimensions include social relationships such as with partners and children (Patuelli and Nijkamp, 2016). Structural dimensions include financial resources and time and as mentioned earlier, seniors have enough time and financial resources at their disposal and are therefore more likely to travel or take part in tourist activities (Nyaupane and Andereck, 2008). However, when these structural factors are not adequate, the hinder the seniors from engaging in leisure activities.

Constraints act as filters for the demand of tourism activities thus preventing people from engaging in travel activities even in the presence of motivation. They provide a conceptual framework to why certain individuals do not take part in tourism activities. Ching-Fu and Wu (2009) also agree that tourism constraints are categorized into three hierarchical levels namely: intrapersonal, interpersonal, and structural constraints. The authors define intrapersonal constraints as individual psychological attributes and states such as anxiety, stress, perceived self-skill and attitudes that may prevent an individual from participating in tourism activities (Ching-Fu and Wu, 2009, p, 303). Intrapersonal constraints occur when individuals do not develop leisure preferences as a result of existing misconceptions and problems arising from individual perceptions, personal ability and needs. On the other hand, interpersonal constraints arise from personal social interactions such with family and friends while structural constraints include accessibility, time and economic resources. Financial considerations, objective and self-reported health status of an individual, physical and emotional costs of travel appear to the most cited tourism constraints among people. However, regarding the travel behavior of seniors, the authors identify age, income and employment status, the motive for relaxation, socialization and novelty, and personal reasons as factors that constrain the propensity of engaging in tourism activities (Huang and Tsai, 2003). These factors can therefore be grouped into socio-demographic and psychological factors that explain the travel propensity of seniors.

According to Lee (2005), culture, lifestyle and family relations plays a significant role in understanding the travel behavior of Korean seniors in terms of motivations and constraints. The Confucian philosophy is responsible for either encouraging or discouraging the seniors travel habits. Lee recognizes a number of factors such as lack of information, time, money, social networks, physical limitations and the fear of disapproval as constraints to seniors’ travel. These are consistent with the factors identified by the above researchers. However, the research found that senior Koreans believe that they should reside in a home and this stereotype has a probability of limiting their travel behaviors. They also consider family approval as an important factor before travel and thus when they do not get approval, they do not travel. Although they have the confidence and resources to travel, the above named factors act as strong constraints against overseas travel.

Constraints and facilitators for senior tourism - ScienceDirect

Figure 2: Constraints

Learned helplessness

Wen, Huang and Goh (2020) state that learned helplessness is a factor that can negatively influence the psychological and physical wellbeing of seniors especially since it is a major precursor to psychopathology. They describe learned helplessness as a psychological state in which individuals prefer the inevitability of adverse outcomes and therefore cease any efforts to control their environment. Research shows that participating in tourism activities is capable of boosting seniors’ psychological and physical well-being. Although learned helplessness is vital in understanding the behavior of seniors in terms of travel and propensity to participate in leisure activities, it is also an important factor to consider when studying constraints to senior tourism activities. For instance, there are several practices that may constitute societal influences that provoke the role of learned helplessness in the travel activities of seniors. In China for instance, tourists above 55 years are subjected to discriminatory pricing when they pay premiums to participate in package tours (Wen, Huang and Goh, 2020, p. 2). This is due to the greater risk that people associate with older people. This constitutes the structural dimensions discussed above that constrain seniors from travelling or participating in tourism activities. The seniors consider this as prejudicial and this may prevent them from travelling in the future. Wen, Huang and Goh (2020, p. 10) identify four constraints that hinder seniors’ travel such as perceived incapability, complex decision making regarding travel, lack of personal support and information and unsuitability of travel services and agencies.

Overcoming tourism constraints

Nyaupane, McCabe and Andereck (2008, p. 342) define constraints as factors that “limit the formation of leisure preferences and inhibit or prohibit participation and enjoyment of leisure. However, they recognize that despite being barrier to the participation of people in tourism and leisure and leisure activities, the constrains are not fixed and thus can be negotiated and overcome. Like other authors, they recognize time, finances, health status, family and personal reasons such a lack of interest as the main reasons why people do not travel or take part in other leisure activities. They further grouped this into ‘travelability’ or the presence of children constraints, lack of financial resources constraints and time constraints (p. 344). They however found that unlike the previously held notion that constraints had an inhibiting effect, they actually had a moderating effect. Specific to seniors, their study realized that they were constrained by lack of time, money to cover expenses of travel, poor health conditions, emotional and physical costs, lack of information and a partner to travel with and concerns of safety during travel. As compared to younger tourists, the authors affirm that seniors are less constrained by structural factors such as finances and time.

Wen,Yu, Huang and Goh (2020) agree with the findings of Nyaupane, McCabe and Andereck (2008) that constraints to tourism activities do not have an inhibiting effect but instead they can be negotiated and overcome. They also recognize that senior travelers face more travel barriers as compared non senior travelers especially in terms of deteriorating health and mobility factors in long haul travel. Regarding perceived constraints by Chinese senior travelers, the researchers identified language barrier, lack of suitable travel agencies and services and a lack of a standard pre-health examination. On language barrier, the senior tourists feared that the hassle of learning the English language would be too tiring thus prefer not to travel or just travel through tour packages. Language barriers also evoked safety fears among senior travelers. The unreliability of travel agencies and services also appeared as a major travel constraint with concerns that they do not specialize in outbound tourism (Wen,Yu, Huang and Goh, 2020, p. 2). Also, most of the reliable tour agencies reject the elderly tourists, a situation that greatly demoralizes the seniors. Most importantly, the lack of standard pre health examination before travelling evokes anxiety among many senior Chinese travelers, a factor that has inhibited their overseas travel.

Strategies to overcome the Constraints

Seniors are an important segment in tourism and attention has shifted to this demographic since they also influence tourism economies. As a result, there is a need to develop strategies that can be invested towards coping with the intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural constraints. Strategies such as negotiations are useful in moderating the constraints that impede the travelling behaviors of senior tourists. Some seniors can consider to negotiate by choosing to travel with their children or partners. The negotiations are believed to promote togetherness and enable people to achieve a sense of belonging by getting emotional companionship and support.

Considering the constrains addressed above and the realization that they can be negotiated and overcome, Kazeminia, Del Chiappa and Jafari (2015) state that loyalty to tour operators can be used to deal with some of these constraints such as safety concerns. Many seniors are afraid of taking overseas travel because of issues such as language barrier that may also increase their safety concerns. They therefore need trustworthy and reliable tour operators to plan for their travel. For instance, people with knowledge of tour operators and companies that offer reliable services to seniors can provide recommendations to the seniors. As a result, the seniors will also develop a sense of loyalty towards the operators and in this way increase their participation in tourism activities as well their frequency of travel. The loyalty depends on the friendliness and atmosphere of the tours, the helpfulness of the staff and the attention they show towards their needs.

Packaged tours are another strategy used to simplify travel for the seniors. The strategy involves group travels in which the process of planning and making decisions on travelling is simplified for the seniors thus sparing them the time and effort that they would have used in researching and decision making (Kazeminia, Del Chiappa and Jafari, 2015, p, 87). Through this, elderly people are encouraged to travel and their frequency of travel also increases. It is also a way for the elderly to socialize with other people thus contributing to the quality of life concept. This also means that such tours can be used to help the seniors overcome interpersonal issues such as the lack of companionship. They also reduce the risk of uncertainty that is associated with culture, language barrier, unfamiliar people and places.


Despite the existence of factors that influence the involvement of seniors in tourism activities as well as the frequency of their travel, constraints also play an important role in shaping the behaviors of senior tourists. Constraints are defined as factors that limit or impede a person from taking part in tourism activities such as travelling. The literature reviewed identifies three categories of constraints as follows, intrapersonal, interpersonal and structural constraints. The intrapersonal constraints include factors such as health. They also arise from personal misconceptions and perceptions such as personal abilities and needs. Interpersonal constrains include relationships with family and friends. For instance, in Korea, there is a belief that when family and friends do not approve certain activities, an individual cannot pursue them. They also include factors such as companionship in that people who do not have companions may not be inclined to travel as compared to people with companions such as a spouse. Structural constraints include time, and money. The literature shows that seniors are an important part of tourism because they have discretionary income and enough time to take part in tourism activities. Therefore, without enough financial resources and time, the seniors are constrained and therefore cannot travel. However, the literature agrees that despite these constraints, there are strategies that can be employed to negotiate or overcome these constraints such as packaged tours.


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Kazeminia, A., Del Chiappa, G., & Jafari, J. (2015). Seniors’ travel constraints and their coping strategies. Journal of Travel Research54(1), 80-93.

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