Business / Industries

Authorities drafting new standards for senior tourists

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-15 09:43

The China Association of Travel Services is working on guidelines for the industry that will focus on services, safety and healthcare for senior tourists. The standard, which is being drafted, will require travel products to suit the psychological and physiological characteristics of older travelers.

Operators will be issued detailed mandatory rules, such as ensuring that schedules aren't too cramped and bedtimes are early, and arranging for the provision of a balanced, healthy menu.

Peng Zhikai, head of the Supervision and Management Division of the China National Tourism Administration, said the guideline is still at an early stage and no date has been set for its public release.

Some local tourism authorities have already introduced their own guidelines. For example, Shanghai issued travel agencies detailed rules for senior tourists in 2011.

Ctrip, a leading online travel agency in Shanghai, has also formulated its own guidance for seniors traveling in groups. "For example, we have a limit on the duration of journeys. Health concerns mean senior tourists should not be exposed to excessive periods of travel," said Dun Jidong, senior sales manager at Ctrip. "The tour guides must be senior employees with high ratings from tourist reviews and they need to be qualified to provide emergency assistance."

Dun said the company provides tailored services for senior groups, including providing opportunities for regular contact with their families during trips.

Zhang Guangrui, honorary director of the Tourism Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China has never before had a national industry standard that focused on the needs of specific groups.

"Certain groups, such as the elderly and children, didn't account for the majority of tourists before, so there are not many tailored travel products for them," he said. "Chinese society has begun to get older, so a larger number of elderly tourists have flooded into the market, and they demand age-appropriate services."

However, Zhang said improvements should be driven by the market, rather than industry-specific rules. "The issues facing the senior tourism market are not special. They reflect the fact that all tourist agencies need to upgrade their services."

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