Seventy-four year-old travel writer Paul Theroux recently observed that ‘The greatest advantage to being an older traveller is being invisible, unregarded, ignored. This allows one to eavesdrop and to see much more of a place or a people.” Whether Australia’s mature-aged travellers share this view is debatable, but one thing is for sure: not only has the number of older Australians taking holidays risen since 2007, but a growing proportion of them are going it alone.
In the 12 months to June 2015, 5,355,000 Australians aged 50+ took at least one holiday, up from 4,464,000 in the year to June 2007. The proportion of those who travelled alone on their last trip rose from 15.4% to 16.3%. This increase is evident among the 50-64, 65-74 and 75-79 age groups, with the 80+ age group remaining stable.
Over the same period, the number of holidaying Aussies aged under-50 also rose, but not nearly to the same extent (from 6,386,000 to 6,738,000). However, only the 25-34 year-old age group showed any increase in solo travel.
Solo travel by age: 2007 vs 2015
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2006 – June 2007 (n=10,276); July 2014 – June 2015 (n=11,403). Base: Australians 14+ who went on a trip and named their travelling party
When asked what activities they did on their last trip, solo travellers from the 50-plus group were more likely than their younger counterparts to report having visited museums, art galleries, gardens or parks and historical places, but less likely to have gone shopping or attended a concert.
While the two groups are equally likely to prefer a holiday ‘where I can see nature or be in a natural setting’, and to enjoy taking holidays within Australia, older solo travellers are considerably less likely to agree that ‘I like to go away on weekends’, ‘I prefer the bright lights and big cities when I travel’ or ‘I enjoy holidays where everything is organised for you.’
Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“In our youth-obsessed society, advancing age is often seen as something to overcome – or simply not seen at all. But older Australians aren’t letting age cramp their style: if anything, they’re taking advantage of it! More and more Aussies aged 50+ are taking holidays, as their work and parenting commitments become less demanding – and a growing proportion are travelling alone.
“As our average life expectancy and the number of Aussies aged over 50 continue to rise, the fact that an increasing number of older folks are travelling makes perfect sense. The growth in solo travel among this group is interesting, too, since above-average proportions of 50-64 year-olds and 65-74 year-olds are still married! However, once past 65, the proportion of widowed travellers also shoots up, which suggests that travelling alone is not always out of choice.
“To make sure they are meeting the needs of this important segment of the market, travel and tourism operators need to be aware of how they differ from younger solo travellers. As described above, they tend to prefer different kinds of holiday activities and have different attitudes towards travel. And that’s before we even consider their preferred destinations and accommodation types….”
Roy Morgan Research
Roy Morgan Research is Australia's best known and longest established market research and public opinion survey company. Roy Morgan Single Source is thorough, accurate, and provides comprehensive, directly applicable information about current and future customers. It is unique in that it directs all the questions to each individual from a base survey sample of around 55,000 interviews in Australia and 15,000 interviews in New Zealand annually - the largest Single Source databases in the world. The questions asked relate to lifestyle and attitudes, media consumption habits (including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, cinema, catalogues, pay TV and the Internet), brand and product usage, purchase intentions, retail visitations, service provider preferences, financial information and recreation and leisure activities. This lead product is supported by a nationally networked, consultancy-orientated market research capability.
P: (03) 9224 5268