Healthy aging and tourism as a way of promoting global public health: A call for cross-disciplinary research


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Public health refers to “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private communities, and individuals” (Winslow, 1920). It prioritizes the health of entire populations (CDC Foundation, n.d.). Despite increasing interdisciplinary attention to the nexus between tourism and public health (e.g., Johnston et al., 2011; Nunkoo, Wen, & Kozak, 2022), limited research has focused on the global trend of aging.

The number and proportion of aging people have seen unprecedented growth worldwide due to declining birth rates, longer life expectancy, and unhealthy lifestyles (United Nations, 2023; World Health Organization, 2022). This demographic shift is accompanied by complex age-related health and inequality issues, posing great challenges to sustainable societal development. Promoting healthy aging has thus become a global aim (Sadana et al., 2016). According to the World Health Organization (n.d.), health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Healthy aging refers to “the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables [this] well-being in older age” (World Health Organization, 2015). Healthy aging has gained academic interest across disciplines including public health, gerontology, sociology, and psychology (Yen et al., 2022). Studies on healthy aging hold great theoretical and practical significance. Such consideration aligns with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) (United Nations, n.d.). This research area also fits Australian Scientific Research Priorities, such as No. 9 Health (Australian Government, 2015). A concerted effort is needed from all sectors of society to foster healthy aging in older adults, who constitute a vulnerable population.

As the world’s largest industry, tourism is increasingly recognized for its contributions to personal and public health. It has even begun to be proposed as a non-pharmacological intervention for chronic diseases such as dementia (Wen et al., 2022). However, little is known about tourism’s potential role in healthy aging. Relevant studies have tended to address the market segmentation and travel behaviour of senior tourists, who exemplify aging populations in tourism contexts (e.g., Li & Chan, 2021; Wen, Huang, & Goh, 2020). The extant literature is far from sufficient (Hu et al., 2023a). The multidisciplinary nature of healthy aging and public health highlights the need to link tourism with other disciplines (e.g., medical science, marketing, psychology, gerontology, sociology, law) (Hu et al., 2023b; Yen et al., 2022). Cross-disciplinary work will clarify the interplay between healthy aging and tourism to promote public health. This Call for Papers encourages related investigations. Given that 80% of adults aged 65 and above have at least one chronic illness (United Nations, 2020), more in-depth and methodologically sound research is warranted on this nexus (Zheng et al., 2023). Findings are expected to provide insights for key stakeholders.

List of Topic Areas

  • The roles of tourism and hospitality in public health 
  • The interplay among public health, healthy aging, and tourism and hospitality 
  • Aging populations' consumer behaviour in tourism and hospitality 
  • The roles of tourism and hospitality in healthy aging 
  • Tourism and health enhancement for aging populations 
  • Innovative healthy aging frameworks for tourism and hospitality contexts 
  • Aging populations with health conditions in tourism and hospitality 
  • Tourism destination development and marketing related to healthy aging

Submissions Information

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Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to ““Please select the issue you are submitting to”. 
Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key Deadlines

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 15/03/2024

Guest Editors

Jun Wen, School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, Australia. 
Haifeng Hou, School of Public Health, Shandong First Medical University, China. 


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Hu, F., Wen, J., Zheng, D., & Wang, W. (2023b). Travel medicine in hospitality: An interdisciplinary perspective. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 35(9), 3134-3153. 
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