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Tourism Geographies: An International Journal of Tourism Space, Place and Environment


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Tourism as a recruiting post for retirement migration


Vicente Rodriguez
a a

Institute of Economics and Geography, Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Spain Published online: 05 Nov 2010.

To cite this article: Vicente Rodriguez (2001): Tourism as a recruiting post for retirement migration, Tourism Geographies: An International Journal of Tourism Space, Place and Environment, 3:1, 52-63 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616680010008702

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Tourism as a recruiting post for retirement migration


Vicente Rodriguez

G & F r a n c is

Institute of Economics and Geography, Spanish Council for Scienti c Research, Spain
Abstract
The cohabitation of space by tourists and residents in Spain poses a number of important conceptual and policy issues. However, research in this eld has been confounded by the lack of resilient and transferable de nitions applicable to the many subtle categories of tourists and migrants, as well as by the administrative obstacles and behavioural traits that hinder effective quanti cation. Yet, the massive scale of the in ux of foreign tourists and residents, seasonally or temporarily, underlines the need for a scienti c analysis of this phenomenon. The objective of this paper is to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms by which many elderly North Europeans have made the transition from being working-age tourists to retired residents in the Costa del Sol. The starting point for the analysis is their previous experience as tourists and their personal af rmation of spatially mobile behavioural life styles, but the paper also considers the attractions of the environmental conditions of the Costa del Sol, and the tourist images of Spain and Andalusia. The paper ends with a brief commentary on the in uence of the retired foreign populations on the destination areas and the future trajectory of tourism-informed migration. Keywords: retirement migration, tourism, residential tourism, North Europeans, Costa del Sol (Spain)

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Tourism and retirement The concepts of tourism and residency are intrinsically confusing in that they confront the notion of mobility, associated with the rhythms of individuals working or leisure hours and the degree of permanency of time spent in leisure spaces (Vera 1997). Individuals leisure time, social and
Tourism Geographies ISSN 14616688 print/ISSN 1470-1340 online 2001 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals DOI: 10.1080/14616680010008702

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individual welfare and lifestyle traits come together to de ne a distinctive pattern of tourist behaviour (Shaw and Williams 1994). Retirement, as part of the life cycle, involves a particular blend of these elements which characterize it as the longest holiday of the lifetime (Guilleard 1996). Increasingly, retirement needs to be seen as an opportunity. There are, of course, different perspectives on retirement: the busy ethics stress on the moral continuity between work and retirement (Ekerdt 1986); the retirees involvement in a wide range of activities (Golant 1988) as a countermeasure against ageing; the pattern of tourist behaviour in retirement associated with different lifestyles (Lowick et al. 1992); and the regulation of leisure time within the general framework of individual planning of social time (Donaire 1995; Vera 1997). Elderly tourists who reside for relatively long periods in the places that they visit seek stability and a future life project, although there are inevitably major uncertainties that affect these experiences. The challenges posed by a temporary or permanent change of residence can only be understood in terms of individual and family decision making, the mechanisms that facilitate their stay in the destination and the broader socio-economic structures which in uence the decision (Vera 1990; Rodriguez et al. 1998a). An important issue for many mobile elderly people is the choice between visiting or settling in an area, in other words, between being tourists or residents. A large contingent of retirees lives in some areas of southern Europe all year round, or for at least part of the year. There are links between these retirees and seasonal tourist behaviour, with both tourists and stayers occupying the same spaces at certain times of the year. This gives rise to a number of questions. How can the two groups be distinguished? Is it possible to identify different types of residents? What mechanisms anchor them to the destination area? Do their previous life experiences condition their residential behaviour, or do the attractions of the destinations determine such ows? These questions are addressed through a case study of residential tourism on the Costa del Sol (Malaga, Spain), using quantitative and qualitative information. Tourism or residential tourism? De ning the types of people who move, and their different motivations, presents a formidable task. This is evident in the limited scienti c precision of many studies on the subject, the administrative dif culties in de ning the statistical boundaries of this mobile population, and the lack of speci c data on a constantly changing population. The concept of residential tourists offers one approach to this phenomenon. Four elements can be used to de ne this group of residential tourists:

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R odr i guez they constitute a concrete human group (retirees, the elderly); they exhibit different patterns of mobile behaviour (permanent migration, temporary migration or simply mobility); they demonstrate a tourist motivation with an individual basis (satisfaction in enjoying free time) and economic dimensions (in terms of consumption, real estate markets and services); and they create territorial effects.

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There are a number of ways that the types of tourists are usually analysed in psychographic research: in terms of lifestyle differences (Lowick et al. 1992); the relationship with tourist consumption and their in uence on the socio-cultural fabric of the destination areas (Shaw and Williams 1994); tourist organization systems and their socio-economic in uences (Vera 1997); the analysis of tourist demand (Monfort et al. 1996); and administrative issues (Huescar 1993). These note the diversity, motivations and patterns of behaviour and their economic impact on the destination areas. Turning to southern Europe, above all Spain, there is an obvious lack of conceptual clarity. There are dif culties in de ning the retired tourist who lives or resides on the Spanish coast after having migrated (OReilly 1995; Williams et al. 1997) However, some researchers still insist on de ning residential tourism as an associated form of tourist behaviour, based on discontinuous stays throughout the year (Vera 1997), a dominant consumer relationship with the destination and use of non-hotel accommodation (SOPDE 1998). In practice, there is a continuum of situations that are dif cult to assess quantitatively, so that it is often not possible to determine when somebody must be considered a tourist or a resident (MUNRES 1996:52). Vera (1990), based on the period of occupation, identi es weekend tourists, short-term tourists, semi-permanent and permanent residents, stressing the links with the residents previous or current tourist behaviour. Warnes (1994), monitoring the displacement of North Europeans to Spain, attached the mobility types to the tourist background of the Mediterranean coast and different types of housing ownership and use; this yielded a number of types, ranging from the one-week hotel holiday, to permanent residence. However, it is dif cult to calculate the number of residents because they are not registered in any systematic way and there are no clear distinctions between holidaymakers, temporary or seasonal residents and permanent migrants. According to Williams et al. (1997) the provisional continuum, where retirement migration should be included, ranges from permanent legally registered residents, nonregistered, seasonal migrants (who may spend a variable period as a rst step towards permanent migration), owners of second homes staying for short periods, to long-term aged tourists. Tourists and residents usually share the same space, time and way of life. OReilly (1995: 29) used these characteristics to classify the international

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foreign community in Fuengirola (Costa del Sol) according to the individuals sense of commitment or orientation to one or other country and on amount of time spent in one or other place of residence. On this basis she generates the categories of expatriates, residents, visitors, returners and tourists. Betty and Cahill (1996) de ned residential tourists in Benalmadena (Costa del Sol) in terms of their length of residence: registered residents (living more or less permanently and holding residence permit); long-stayers (owners of ats or villas, staying during the winter and usually non-registered); non-registered residents (not holders of of cial permits, but owning property and residing during the year); and renters of ats and villas (who may be considering coming to live in Spain, but still maintain houses in the UK). Poorly conceptualized and operationalized de nitions are one of the main dif culties faced in the analysis of international migration retirement. These problems are not effectively addressed by most national data-producing bodies (Balao 1994) or by the census categories for immigrants (whether to use nationality, last country of residence or country of origin; Williams et al. 1997). There are also de ciencies in the Spanish registration of foreign populations. Rodriguez et al. (1998a) consider that the main reasons for non-registration are poor information on registration procedures, the preference for anonymity, the temporary nature of the stay or the belief that they are not required to register when living in Spain. Registration is also time-consuming and makes individuals liable for income and property taxes (Betty and Cahill 1996; Williams et al. 1997), while there is little fear that non-registration will be discovered. Moreover, the cumbersome registration procedures con ict with the relaxed way of life that the migrants have sought in Spain (OReilly 1995). In general, retirees on the Costa del Sol are usually regarded as residential tourists who live in particular areas, buy housing for temporary use throughout the year (Jurdao 1988), but who can hardly be de ned as tourists given the amount of time they live in the area. This leads to the question of whether there are tourist elements in the patterns of behaviour of the foreign retirees and the answer, of course, is af rmative. The pattern of tourist behaviour of retirees in Spain and the Costa del Sol There are few academic studies of senior tourism or residential tourism, although the need for such research is recognized (WTO 1997). The mobility of elderly people is a response to pre-retirement stimuli and therefore their current behaviour contains strong lines of continuity. Resident retirees current opinions about life in Spain re ect their experiences during

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their working lives and their visits as tourists. There are three aspects that attract resident retirees to the Costa del Sol:
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previous experiences as tourists and their loyalty to the destination expressed through repetitive patterns of behaviour during their working lives and the present; their perception of the Mediterranean climate; their image of Spain.

Previous experience and destination loyalty building There is considerable evidence of the importance of previous tourism experiences to resident retirees. There are several different aspects to this: familiarity with the destination (Cuba and Longino 1991); the importance of tourism in the choice of the destination, as the basis for establishing a life in a new community and developing appropriate personal relationships (Cuba 1989); and the balance in time relationships between the place of origin and the destination that is visited temporarily as a tourist destination (McHugh 1990). Haas and Serow (1997) argued that whereas a number of alternative destinations can satisfy the desires for mobility as tourists, these are sharply reduced when retirees choose the destination to live out their retirement. In some cases, retirees tend to idealize their own lifestyle in relation to a speci c place (Longino 1992) in a pattern of behaviour similar to tourists. Generally, the older they become, the better they know a place and the more they can reduce uncertainties associated with retirement migration (Romsa and Blenman 1989). In European and Spanish spaces that have a strong tourist tradition, there tends to be a relationship between the movements of retirees who are looking for a relatively permanent residence and their previous tourist experience. More than 90 per cent of the British retirees living in the Algarve and the Costa del Sol had been on holiday in the area beforehand (King et al. 1998). In Alicante this number was 70 per cent (MUNRES 1996). North European retirees on the Costa del Sol (Rodriguez et al. 1998b) considered that experience was an important reason for living in the area. This is comprised of several elements, especially having spent their holidays in Spain (27%) and ownership of a dwelling (15%). This opinion was held, above all, by the British, those aged under 65 years, recent arrivals and men. Other reasons for living in Spain, such as having received information about the country, having worked in or having relatives on the coast, are mentioned far less frequently. This is different to the experiences of British residents in other less tourism-dominated spaces, such as Malta (Warnes and Patterson 1998), where the retirees feel more socially integrated with the destination area.

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Previous experience frequently means having been faithful to the destination through repeat tourism. This involves several factors, such as appropriate environmental conditions that have made the stay pleasant, suf cient tourism infrastructure to generate tourist demand (Barke and France 1996) or adequate spatial proximity and accessibility (Buswell 1996; King et al. 1998), facilitated internally by the development of road and railway networks. Even though this formula applies to tourism per se, it can also be applied to retirees. How loyal to their destination are retirees on the Costa del Sol? This question is not asked speci cally in the surveys, but insights are provided by the number of years the retirees have lived on the coast and their pattern of seasonal mobility. On average, retirees living on the Costa del Sol had arrived when they were 59 years old and have lived there for nine years. Their stay tends to be temporary, as shown by the fact that more than 80 percent return to their native country, for an average stay of three months. They return home in summer to avoid the heat and the peak of mass tourism in the Costa del Sol. This pattern of behaviour is most marked for Nordics, but the British also return at various times of the year (Rodriguez et al. 1998a). In what constitutes a clearly tourist pattern of behaviour, they divide their time between their home country and Spain, so they neither fully sever their ties with their native country nor become fully integrated in Spain. Accessibility to the UK facilitates this high level of mobility amongst the British in Spain and Portugal (King et al. 1998). By way of conclusion, residential tourists could be de ned as the outcome of satis ed and loyalty-based holiday tourism (SOPDE 1998: 360), as being relatively young and active, with available free time and disposable income, and the potential to return, fairly easily, to the country of origin. Climate and retirement The Costa del Sol has exceptional climatic conditions. Few other European regions have a mean annual temperature of 18, more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and the limited rainfall necessary for a more relaxed, outdoor lifestyle. Generally speaking, Mediterranean climates facilitate outdoor leisure activities (Krout 1983; Cuba and Longino 1991; Haas and Serow 1997), and are attractive to lifestyle migrants, whether in the USA (Longino 1992), Australia (Stimson 1996; Stimson and Minnery 1998) or Europe (Williams et al. 1997; King et al. 1998). In regional terms, climate is a decisive factor that attracts tourists and residents alike to some areas of Spain, such as the Costa Blanca (MUNRES 1996) and the Costa del Sol (Barke 1991; Raya 1994; OReilly 1995; Betty and Cahill 1996; SOPDE 1998; Rodriguez et al. 1998b).

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The climate is the essential feature that identi es Andalucia (Marchena 1994) and Spain (TURISMO 1993) as a tourist destination for German, British and Scandinavian tourists. Even when Spaniards are included amongst the interviewees, more than 40 per cent stated that the principal reason for visiting the Costa del Sol is the climate (SOPDE 1998). This also applies to northern European retirees in most regions of Mediterranean Europe (King et al. 1998), but especially in the Costa del Sol: 70 per cent of those interviewed stated that the climate is the main reason for living there. A number of studies con rm that climate is the main environmental factor (Vera 1997; Gomez 1999) that determines migration, the seasonality of residence and the general framework of tourist activities (Shaw and Williams 1994). This is closely linked to speci c locations with established reputations and international images that are based on idealized tourist stereotypes. Rodriguez et al. (1998a), in their Costa del Sol study, reported both generalized stereotypes held by retirees (a home in the sun, that attracts visitors in winter and tourists in summer), as well as climaterelated health stereotypes (Malaga gave back many people their health and happiness) and lifestyle stereotypes (my social life is much livelier here). In reality, the Mediterranean climate is also associated with extreme and worrying environmental and social phenomena (periods of extreme heat, drought, res, oods, overdevelopment, mass tourism). These phenomena have intensi ed in recent years (Girard and Gartner 1993; Rodriguez et al. 1998a; Gomez 1999), and are being addressed as part of the discussion over the restructuring of Mediterranean coastal tourism (Marchena and Vera 1995). Place images Climate is an essential component of tourists and residents images of Spain. In essence, image is knowledge, preference and motivation for a given space, valued in different ways in terms of an organic image, or the image obtained generally, and the induced or promoted image (Cooper et al. 1996). The latter can be used to change the former, which has a basic, non-promotion-orientated component (Bordas and Rubio 1993). From the tourism viewpoint, the promotion of the image of Spain involves combining certain aspects that de ne the product, namely living in Spain, with speci c tourist objectives, whilst leveraging on the synergies of Spains international image. The association of Spain with holidays and good climate is considered traditional (Ministerio Turismo 1996). More than half of all foreigners interviewed have been to Spain on holiday a number of times (more than 50 per cent have been more

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than twice), are thinking of returning in the next few years and chose Spain because it offers sun and sand, with good environmental, social and cultural conditions. In short, these are expressive factors related to leisure and entertainment. These Mediterranean values are deeply rooted in the promoted image of Spain. The clearest example is to be found in the passion for life slogan that is being used to promote Spain abroad, instead of the previous slogan everything under the sun. The Mediterranean could be de ned by such life-force ideas as vitality, informality, warmth and sensitivity (Ocaa 1993). The external image of Andalusia is structured around culture, the environment and the quality of life (Marchena 1994). Broadly speaking, it is regarded as a recognizable destination in Spain, being valued positively for the climate, sun and sand, nature and the environment, and the monuments and history of its main cities. Costa del Sol business owners, real estate sellers and opinion leaders also regard climate as the main strength of Malagas tourist market, together with the standard of living, tourist infrastructure (in particular gol ng facilities) and value for money (SOPDE 1998). They also refer to environmental degradation, noise, mass tourism, dirtiness and crime as factors that detract from and make it dif cult to maintain the quality of life image of the Andalusian coast. What are the opinions of these elements of the retirees living on the Costa del Sol? Two-thirds of those interviewed considered that living in the area, permanently or temporarily, implies leading an informal and relaxed lifestyle in valued natural and climatic conditions ideal for leisure, social and cultural activities (Betty and Cahill 1996). They based this on an appraisal of the climate, the Mediterranean landscape and the Spanish lifestyle (Rodriguez et al. 1998a). The informality is evident in the lack of time restrictions and the outdoor lifestyle, although this can pose psychological and social problems for those accustomed to more regulated working conditions and social rules. Participation in such activities is the outcome of living with people of similar interests, in a cosmopolitan social environment, although there are also problems in adapting, integrating and living with the indigenous society (Rodriguez et al. 1998a; OReilly 2000 ). Frequently, the retirees take advantage of the local conditions and tourist infrastructure to establish a parallel society. Conclusions Tourist spaces inevitably age as their territorial and supply structures are consolidated, problems arise, especially environmental ones, and their tourist features are renewed. This can, of course, be conceptualized in terms of the resort life cycle (Butler 1980). The Spanish destinations, given their long history of mass tourism, are highly appropriate case studies for

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understanding the changes required in traditional tourist resorts, almost all of which are trying to modify their tourism product and physical infrastructures (Marchena and Vera 1995), in order to enhance their quality. There has been a tendency to neglect the substitution role of retirees in tourist areas. Their pattern of behaviour, their perception of the area where they live and their appraisal of environmental events are mainly tourist orientated. Both they and their relatives tend to spend longer periods in the area than ordinary tourists, generating a range of yearround economic, social and cultural activities. They thus contribute to alleviating the downturn in the traditional seasonal tourist cycle. The fact that most retirees live in the area all the year helps to sustain an economy based on service provision to the elderly by the municipal authorities (and others), which are, thus, becoming increasingly involved in caring for the elderly. The clusters of retirees also attract native or foreign working-age people who make their living by meeting resident retirees demands. They also have an in uence on the economy as a whole and on the housing market in particular, and on the range of associations, which remain active throughout the year. Changing electoral rights, emanating from the Treaty on European Union, have also given them potential in uence in municipal politics. This paper has not sought to examine how tourist areas are affected by the establishment of resident retirees this is outside its scope. However, there is an increasingly urgent need to address some of the issues raised here. Are the retirees who live in coastal areas just another element in the consolidation phase of the resort cycle or, on the contrary, are they players in a new model of tourist/residential occupation of the territory? Are Mediterranean tourist resorts inevitably converging towards that model? If this is a spontaneous phenomenon, should these areas be promoted as retiree resorts? Even if a national public policy is not necessary on this subject, should such initiatives be taken at least at municipal level? Acknowledgement This paper includes partial information from the Inmigrantes Europeos Jubilados en Andalucia project (Ministry of Education, SEC95-0120, and Junta de Andalucia). Thanks are given to all the older retired persons living in the Costa del Sol for expressing their ideas, feelings and comments about their experiences.

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Biographical note Vicente Rodriguez is a scienti c researcher in the Department of Geography of the Institute of Economics and Geography. He is currently engaged in research on elderly people in Spain, mainly northern Europeans who have retired to the Costa del Sol; this is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and the Regional Government of Andalusia. He is also a participant in the European Science Foundation Exploratory Network about European Dimensions of Changing Retirement. (Institute of Economics and Geography, Spanish Council for Scienti c Research, Pinar 25, 28006 Madrid, Spain; e-mail: rodri(ieg.csic.es) Rsum: Tourisme comme mthode de recrutement des retraites migrants
La cohabitation spatiale par les touristes and les rsidents en Espagne pose plusieurs questions conceptuelles et politiques importants. Toutefois, la recherche dans ce domaine a t confondue par le manque de de nitions transmissibles quon peut appliquer aux catgories subtiles de touristes et migrants, aussi bien que par les obstacles administratives et les traits de comportement qui empechent une approche qualitative effective. Pourtant lchlle enorme daf ux de touristes et rsidents, saisonniers et temporaires, souligne le besoin dune analyse scienti que de cet phnomne. Lobjectif de cet ssai est dapprofondir notre connaissance des mchanismes avec lesquels la situation des personnes agees de lEurope du Nord a chang de touristes travailleurs des retraits rsidents Costa Del Sol. Le point de dpart de cette analyse est leurs experiences prcedentes en tant que touristes et leurs af rmations dun style de vie mobile, mais lssai aussi considre lattraction des conditions environnementales de Costa Del Sol, et les images touristiques de lEspagne et lAndalousie. Lssai ni par un brf commentaire din uences sur la destination par les retraits trangrs et le future trajectoire du tourisme migratoire. Mots-cls: retraits migrants, tourisme, tourisme de residents, Europans Nordiques, Costa Del Sol (Espagne).

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