Tourism, ageing and the demographic timebomb - The implications of dementia for the visitor economy : A perspective paper
Page, Stephen J.
Purpose: This paper aims to examine the development of research on ageing and demography and the implications for the study of tourism. It examines the demographic time bomb created by an ageing population and the implications of complex health conditions, such as dementia, for the visitor economy. Practical measures are identified with an example of a “call to action” for small to medium-sized tourism businesses. Design/methodology/approach: This review is based on existing knowledge of ageing and draws upon a historical timeline that stretches from the nineteenth century to 2100. Findings: The impact of complex health conditions such as dementia will pose major challenges for the visitor economy and will require behavioural change within existing business practices to accommodate the needs of people with dementia and their carers. Research limitations/implications: Major changes in business practices and the development of more holistic views of accessibility will be needed to accommodate an ageing population in 2100. Some of the initial changes businesses can make are outlined in a “call to action” leaflet extract. Practical implications: Businesses will need to focus more on customer care practices to ensure that they can accommodate the complex needs of people with dementia and their carers as they continue to pursue the tourism and leisure activities that they have grown accustomed to. Social implications: Businesses will need to become more fully engaged with new agendas on accessibility, inclusivity and good business practice that raise significant ethical, financial and legal issues for the way they do business in the future. Originality/value: The paper sets out an overarching grand societal challenge around ageing that is now confronting many countries worldwide. As part of that agenda, this paper raises the issue of hidden conditions such as dementia. The paper seeks to stimulate a wider debate for researchers and policymakers going forward, framed around the following questions which arise from the paper: How is dementia understood as a hidden condition in the visitor economy? To what extent is there awareness and action in the visitor economy sector? What can the visitor economy sector do to address issues of inclusivity and dementia?