A survey conducted by the company showed that 93 percent of those middle-aged and elderly consumers polled planned to travel this year. [Photo/China Daily]
Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics show that the number of Chinese residents aged 60 or above reached 202 million in 2013. By 2050, the number will nearly double to around 400 million.
This will open up new opportunities for the domestic tourism sector, which is already booming. Last year, revenue from internal tourism was 3.1 trillion yuan ($500 billion), a 16.7 percent increase compared with 2013, according to the China Tourism Academy. This year the academy is expecting the revenue to hit 3.6 trillion yuan.
But for the industry to entice seniors, travel agencies will have to improve their services and roll out creative deals.
Cheng Guiyun, 56, who lives in Xi'an, capital city of Shaanxi province, paid 800 yuan for a special five-day package tour to Beijing last year.
"The price was too low," Cheng said after finding out that the original cost was about 1,500 yuan. "The schedule was too tight and the accommodation was poor. The local guide kept pushing us from one sightseeing spot to another."
The food was also a major problem. "It made me sick," she said.
Cheng's experience is common among senior Chinese tourists traveling in the country. Cheap tour packages usually mean shabby rooms, poor food and long trips by road to cut costs.
Safety standards are often ignored and healthcare cover is rarely included in the price. But now some travel agencies are giving the elderly tourism sector a makeover.
"Middle-aged and elderly people have already become our main customers," said Dai Yu, marketing director of Ctrip.com International Inc, the largest online travel agency in China.
A survey conducted by the company showed that 93 percent of those middle-aged and elderly consumers polled planned to travel this year. They would also spend more money on their trips than younger tourists.
Father's Day, Mother's Day, summer vacations and the Double Nine Festival, which is a traditional time to show respect to elders, are popular holiday periods for seniors.