Call for papers – Travel after retirement: developing critical perspectives

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference 2015. University of Exeter, 1st-4th September 2015

Session convenors: Julia Hibbert (, Rosie Day ( a, Russell Hitchings (, Susan Venn ( b

a University of Birmingham, UK ; b University College London, UK

Sponsored by the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group (GLTRG)

Older people appear to be becoming more mobile, both in terms of their everyday mobility and their travel for leisure and tourism purposes. They are also generally traveling greater distances and for longer periods in a way that suggests a growing ability and desire to travel. This is widely viewed as positive, since the enabling of more and further travel by older people sits well with wider ‘active ageing’ agendas and can be easily connected to the social benefits often associated with mobility. Post retirement cohorts are therefore sometimes taken to represent an underdeveloped market with which the travel industry should engage more fully, both because doing so could be lucrative and because their travel is to be encouraged.

However, on closer inspection, there are potential tensions inherent to these agendas worthy of more enquiry. Travel and tourism are practices through which valued identities can be affirmed and social connections made and remade in often positive ways, yet they can also generate and reproduce more unequal and oppressive social relations. Some might also feel pressured to act in accordance with new norms of active ageing when they may lack the financial means or personal inclination to do so. Then there are issues to do with the physical changes associated with ageing. What do these do to the experience of travel and how are they being understood and managed by those who cater to the predicted markets associated with post retirement travel? Finally, there are further thorny issues to do with the personal rights and environmental responsibilities associated with travel, especially long distance travel, that may invoke intergenerational tensions. In view of wider societal ageing then, there is much more to investigate about how different groups of older people are travelling after retirement, where they go and why, and how this area of travel demand is more generally being anticipated and made.

Building on this argument, the purpose of this session is to assemble a range of papers to critically examine the discourses and practices associated with older person travel and consider what sources of evidence and interdisciplinary collaborations might be of most help in developing this line of enquiry. As such, contributions might address (but are not limited to):

  •  Embodied ageing and travel practices
  • Travel, memory and identity
  • Discourses of post-retirement fulfilment and their implications for travel
  • Destination marketing and the imagined older consumer
  • Gendered, classed, ableist and hetero-normative constructions and performances of older age in tourist spaces and products
  • Sustainable tourism and environmental concern in relation to older travellers
  • Assumptions and evidence about travel in gerontological and tourism studies
  • Issues of social inclusion and exclusion related to older person travel
  • Older person travel in comparative cultural contexts

Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Julia Hibbert ( by Friday 30th January 2015.

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