It’s no secret that travel is beneficial for your health and may even contribute to a longer life, but according to Flinders College of Medicine and Public Health academic Dr Christina Hagger, it also improves ageing and retiree wellbeing.
“Travel offers a sense of purpose, social activity, perceived control and opportunities to construct a new identity as a traveller. Equally of value, travel is good for brain health, as it offers the novelty and complexity that our brains crave,” Dr Hagger.
“Some suggest exotic, epic or extended travel as the way to maintain life satisfaction and associated psychological health in retirement.
“However, the beneficial contribution of multiple tourism events, particularly short term and local, may be just as effective, and potentially more achievable for many retirees who face restrictions with time as well as money.”
While a strong understanding of the health benefits of tourism is accepted in many European countries, comprehension of ‘Social Tourism’ may be lacking in Australia.
The Social Tourism agenda was initially developed to provide travel for disadvantaged groups, but is now broadening to include ageing more generally.
“As such, it is gaining interest from policy makers, particularly in Europe and the UK, who are keenly observing the emerging evidence on the potential of local, supported tourism to deliver health benefits to the targeted populations, as well as economic benefits to local communities,” said Dr Hagger.
Dr Hagger believes tourism policy in Australia should focus more comprehensively on the psychological and physical benefits of local tourism for older citizens and should influence policy from the federal departments of health, ageing, tourism and, potentially, education.
“While being an important resource for maintaining health and wellbeing, particularly for people who have retired, tourism can generate social, health and community returns which are arguably far more valuable than its economic returns,” she says.
Do you agree with Dr Hagger? Should the Government do more to promote tourism as a health measure?
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