Destination Garraf: pioneers of inclusive tourism for the elderly

2nd December 2023


Can you imagine a group of elderly tourists coming specifically to enjoy the beaches but being unable to access them? This increasingly realistic scenario was discussed at a meeting in the county of Garraf.

Immediately, in conjunction with the Biosphere certification, work began on seeking answers and, together, developing solutions to address this and other issues that will impact on tourism in the coming decades.

Ever-increasing population ageing poses a demographic shift that will directly impact on tourist destinations. Studies indicate that the percentage of the elderly population in our society will continue to grow. Moreover, it is a demographic characterised by individuals who will continue to travel and engage in active leisure plans.

Currently, very few establishments are equipped to accommodate individuals in an older age group, and a decisive commitment from all parties involved is needed to have the tools to address this. Providing services that cater to the older population can be the differentiating factor that ensures the viability of a business.

In order to prepare the sector for the challenges posed by the rise of the so-called "silver economy," Node Garraf, the regional development agency, organised a collective session on accessibility and tourism for tourism businesses.

What strategies can they develop to accommodate future visitors? How can they prepare as a destination? These were some of the topics addressed during the sessions held in November 2023, which served as a platform for the agency to promote initiatives that could assist businesses in facing the transformations in the profile of their customers.

An awareness that is already bearing fruit

This is one of the Biosphere initiatives that Garraf has implemented as a destination. But it's not the only one. There are several projects aiming to promote sustainability and responsible management in the region, in collaboration with certified municipalities such as Vilanova i la Geltrú, Sitges, and Canyelles. And there are already several businesses that Destination Garraf has managed to certify, promoting good environmental and social practices.

From the landscape integration project of Garrofer camp site in Sitges, which blends the site with the surrounding Mediterranean flora, to other initiatives in Sitges such as El Vivero Beach Club, offering local gastronomy, and Sències Can Girona, a farmhouse that not only hosts events but also upholds the ancestral tradition of landscape conservation.

Projects that encompass both the depths of the seabed with the Vilanova-based Saphira Dive and their diving courses governed by good practices, as well as the gentle hills of Garraf with the new organic techniques applied to the vineyards of Celler Vega de Ribes.

More and more private initiatives are joining the certification, thanks to the awareness-raising efforts carried out by Node Garraf. They are responsible for promoting this certification among interested businesses and coordinating various initiatives, including reminders for pending actions and providing guidance through workshops and training sessions to facilitate the path to compliance.

Another strategy that supports this programme is the promotion of local culture and traditions, with the endorsement of local products in Garraf's restaurant offering, such as fish from the wholesale fish market, local wines, or espigalls, a typical Garraf cabbage variety.

All this to highlight Garraf’s assets, while raising awareness and coordinating cross-cutting actions to promote sustainable tourism suitable for all age groups.