Baby Boomers—the retirement-age generation affectionately nicknamed the “grey tsunami”—are surging back to travel now that the two-year-long tide of COVID-19 concerns is receding.
That is, at least, according to new data released by global travel insurance and specialty benefits company Seven Corners, which found that more Baby Boomers are buying travel insurance policies this year than did in 2021, with plan sales more than doubling over last year.
Current economic conditions being what they are, it only makes sense that the older, wealthier generation is at the forefront of travel’s resurgence since many of these folks born between 1946 and 1964 had likely saved up to travel in their retirement years and the pandemic-prompted floodgates have finally reopened.
With the travel sector continually looking to forecast future industry trends, Seven Corners’ data helps shed some light on the ways in which Baby Boomers are shaping the return of tourism.
Boomers Are Buying More Travel Insurance
Seven Corners’ report indicates that more Boomers are purchasing travel insurance policies for their trips, with sales data reflecting an impressive 54-percent year-over-year increase in this age group. Gen Z (born between 1997 and 2012) travelers accounted for the second-highest increase in plan sales at 37 percent, followed by Gen X with 22 percent growth and Millennials with just three percent.
“Some of the more modest increases may be partly because those generations simply continued to travel at steadier rates during and immediately after the pandemic,” said Seven Corners’ product marketing strategist Angela Borden. “The number of baby boomers who traveled in 2020 dropped quite significantly, more so than other age groups. To see them rebounding at this pace bodes well for the travel industry.”
As for the other reasons that Baby Boomers, in particular, may be flooding back to travel at an accelerated rate, Seven Corners identified two key factors. Firstly, the number of active Boomers remains high and constitutes a significant percentage of the U.S. population. The 2020 U.S. Census estimated that 73 million Americans fall into this age group; and, in 2019, AARP reported that 46 percent of the U.S. population was 50 years or older.
And then there’s the fact that this older generation has greater purchasing power than others. Having more disposable funds and more free time available to them means that Boomers are able to do more traveling than the younger generations. With many of them already being fully or semi-retired, or at least having earned more vacation days available, they’re also more likely to venture farther from home on longer trips.
Europe Beckons To Boomers
Seven Corners’ data also revealed that American Boomers a returning to Europe this year as their overall preferred destination, with the top two most sought-after countries being Italy and the United Kingdom (U.K.). Actually, when all generations are considered together, Italy comes in as the most popular destination for 2022—quite a shift from 2021’s most popular destination, Turks and Caicos.
In fact, last year’s most popular destinations among U.S. travelers were quite a bit closer to home: Mexico, Turks and Caicos, and Costa Rica. Much of the reason for this had to do with these countries’ level of accessibility in terms of airlift and maintaining less rigorous restrictions amid the pandemic (or, in Mexico’s case, none at all). But, the E.U. and its member nations relaxed and eventually eliminated their travel requirements in 2022, making them again attractive to international visitors.
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