Older people could be more at risk of illness while abroad, findings show


Studies have shown that the risk of illness naturally increases with age for Britons holidaying overseas, particularly in places where bacteriological and viral problems are common.

Holiday Illness AbroadAdvancing age and generally declining health and fitness mean that people over 65 are prone to longer-term illnesses which younger folk shrug off comparatively quickly.

An older person with a weak immune system, for example, is more likely to be struck by a sickness associated with bad food, contaminated tap-water or poorly-maintained hotel swimming pools and air-conditioning systems.

The hotter the climate, the more the bacteria can thrive, leading to potentially serious conditions such as Legionnaire's Disease, salmonella and eColi – all of which will more readily afflict the elderly than the younger adult.

Other figures, reported by Mintel and the tour firm Travelsphere, found that older people take more foreign holidays and have greater spending power than their younger counterparts. Even as the overall foreign holiday market shrank by 9% between 2008 and 2010, 55-64 year-olds were the only demographic for whom long-haul travel actually rose.

Travelsphere parent group Page & Moy observed that older people still set great store by holidays, even though the credit crunch has badly affected the vacation patterns of those under 45.

"2-3rds of over 55s see holidays as necessary spend, compared to only half of 45-54 year olds and 45% of under 45s," said Ian Smith, the group's CEO.

"Many of today's older travellers have time, money and the internet at their fingertips to entice and enable. The UK's older population is growing at the fastest rate, accounting for 17% of our population today, but is expected to rise to 23% by 2035, so older travellers will continue to dominate the tourism offering at home and abroad."

Nick Harris, Head of Travel Law at Simpson Millar LLP said: "Food poisoning illnesses abroad can ruin holidays with the elderly and children being the ones most at risk. With the elderly often suffering from weaker immune systems these holiday illness bugs can sometimes mean long term health complications. It's imperative that hotels and resorts have strict hygiene practices in place to avoid the risk of illnesses such as salmonella, cryptosporidium, campylobacter etc as a duty of care to its customers."

"Tour operators should also be monitoring their hotels as well to ensure these practices are adhered to as they are legally responsible for your health and well being during a package holiday abroad."

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