Hong Kong has been experiencing demographic ageing with an increasing number of older population and prolonged life expectancy. It is projected that population will increase from 12% in 2004 to 24% in 2031 (Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong, 2002). Older people in the future are expected to be wealthier and healthier and the potential demand for recreational activities will strongly be associated with this group. As highlighted in the Chief Executive of the HKSAR 2001 policy address, the future direction of elderly care and services is to improve the quality of life of older persons, ensuring that they will continue to enjoy a sense of security, belonging and a feeling of good health and worthiness. The report on healthy ageing by the Elderly Commission suggested that promoting physical well-being alone is not enough for older people and therefore a number of ways to enhance their psychological well-being are necessary (Elderly Commission, 2001).
The importance of psychological well-being to quality of life of older people and their life expectancy is an integral part of the concept of successful ageing and also forms a main plank in the WHO’s policy framework of active ageing (WHO, 2002). More active social participation or leisure activities are very widely recognized as crucial. According to reports published by the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA, 1998), Hong Kong residents departures to overseas destinations increased from 3.4 million in 1996 to 3.8 million in 1997, representing a growth rate of 9.1%. Although the trend for older people in Hong Kong is not clear from literature and existing data, outbound travelling for older people seems to be a development which is both commercially viable and probably socially desirable. A popular activity to enhance the quality of life of older people in Hong Kong is outbound travelling.
The “graying” of population in Hong Kong has aroused the attention of people running overseas tourism and it is not surprising that given the increasing number of older people and the large amount of unoccupied time available to them, this has captured the interest of those examining travel characteristics of the market (Van Harssel, 1994). Indeed, many people identified by demographic age as “elderly” may be cognitively young (Schiffman & Sherman, 1991) and open to innovation in their travel behaviour (Szmigin & Carrigan, 2001). Moreover, in all likelihood, older tourists will be as strongly motivated to travel as younger people (Sharpley, 1994). Thereby, senior travel is becoming a widely recognized aspect for promoting healthy and active ageing. However, the research conducted in Hong Kong concerning the meaning and significance of outbound travelling amongst older people in Hong Kong has been very limited so far.
The present research presents an exploratory study on senior travel in the context of Hong Kong and four dimensions are addressed as follows:
- The motivations for outbound travelling amongst older people in Hong Kong.
- The perceived barriers to outbound travelling amongst older people in Hong Kong.
- To describe and analyze the travel modes and activities conducted during outbound travel.
- To explore the psychological meaning(s) of outbound travel for older people.
Chan, C. M. A., Phillips, D. R., Fong, M. S. F., & Wong, H. Y. E. (2005). An exploratory study on the significance of outbound travelling for the older persons in Hong Kong (APIAS Monograph Paper Series No.8). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: http://commons.ln.edu.hk/apiasmp/5