Social tourism & older people: the IMSERSO initiative
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Extant demand-perspective social tourism studies have generally focused on children, families and the disabled whilst older people remain an under-researched group in relation to the personal and social benefits of social tourism initiatives. This study discusses the lack of research on social tourism and older people and takes a demand-side perspective to examine one of the world’s most developed and large-scale social tourism schemes for older people, the Spanish Government’s IMSERSO programme. A qualitative approach explores the nature of older people’s engagement with the scheme and its impact on their wellbeing, through individual in-depth interviews with twenty-seven IMSERSO participants in Benidorm, Spain – a popular IMSERSO destination. The thematic analysis is structured around five themes: social connectivity, the impact of caring responsibilities, a new beginning, escape and practical support. The findings for these IMSERSO participants suggest that, as factors such as caring obligations and hardship experienced in early life are reduced in later life, they have the capacity for increased holiday-taking and social activity and consequently for participation in the IMSERSO scheme. The scheme is found to have a positive impact on their wellbeing by providing opportunities for meeting and interacting with new people, acting as a distraction from ill-health and thus reducing stress, depression and anxiety. However, the article raises questions over the ability of those without strong social networks, including no partner, and those with ongoing caring responsibilities (those who, it could be argued, are most in need of a holiday) to participate in the scheme.
Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events;
This article was published in Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events on 18 April 2018 (online) available at https://doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2018.1465064
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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