An analysis of the winter movement of grey nomads to northern Australia: planning for increase senior visitation

Cridland, Shane (2008) An analysis of the winter movement of grey nomads to northern Australia: planning for increase senior visitation. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Australia has an ageing population. The majority of Australia’s senior population are healthier and more financially secure than past aged generations. Furthermore, never before in Australia’s modern history have so many senior citizens had the opportunity and the ability to move freely across Australia with relative ease. Each year, tens of thousands of retired Australians leave their permanent residence with the onset of winter and relocate to destinations in northern Australia. These mobile retirees are better known as grey nomads, and are a valuable niche group for the Australia’s self-drive tourism market.

In the population geography literature, much has been written regarding the mobility of retirees in developed countries. Most of the analysis on Australia’s senior mobility has focused on aspects of permanent movement, the so-called ‘sea change’ phenomenon. Research into the temporary movement of seniors, moving from a cold climate to warmer environment has focused primarily on the North American snowbird population. Recently, however, some attention has been given to researching the seasonal winter movements of retirees in Australia. The majority of studies examined grey nomads from a tourism prospective, generally as a segment within the self-drive and/or grey tourism markets. A few population geography studies have focused on motivation to travel and demographic characteristics, identifying differences between grey nomads and the snowbird population or differences between permanently retired residents, residing at the same destinations visited by grey nomads. No research has been undertaken examining grey nomad mobility, especially in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Furthermore, most studies have examined grey nomads within a caravan park setting, omitting those grey nomads who camp, and has treated them as a homogenous population. Research by Mings (1997) identified that grey nomads are very individualistic; hence, this high level of individualism would lead to the assumption that grey nomads are not a homogeneous population.

The aim of this project was to identify if grey nomads were a homogenous population and to examine their mobility and factors influencing their movement patterns. Results from this study concluded that grey nomads are not a homogenous population in relation to mobility and destination choice. Factors such as number of past trips undertaken, past visits to a particular place, age, vehicle, economic and health status, activities undertaken whilst travelling, and time in retirement all influenced the level of a grey nomad’s mobility and the destinations they choose to visit. Rarely will one factor influence a grey nomad’s mobility; generally, numerous factors will contribute. Therefore, grey nomads can be divided into six sub-populations based on varying mobility, socio- economic/demographic characteristics and other factors such as the level of social interaction with other grey nomads. Furthermore, a longitudinal typology also exists identifying a change in a grey nomad’s movement and choice of destination throughout their grey nomadic lifespan. In addition, an examination of the highway and road networks grey nomads used provided information on the movement patterns of grey nomads from separate states and territories. Results presented in this thesis will aid planners in their efforts to provide sufficient services and infrastructure at destinations catering to seasonal influxes of grey nomad visitors.

Item ID: 7901
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: grey nomads, snowbirds, Northern Australia, retirees, senior citizens, mobility, choice of destination, winter travel, recreational travel, road networks, demography
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2010 06:12
FoR Codes: 12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120506 Transport Planning @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1603 Demography > 160305 Population Trends and Policies @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1604 Human Geography > 160402 Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Geography @ 34%
SEO Codes: 88 TRANSPORT > 8801 Ground Transport > 880106 Road Infrastructure and Networks @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 50%
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