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Are you a Late Bloomer?
by Jerry W. Bird

Jerry - Bopok Age BarrierThe following excerpt from our daily newspaper, the Vancouver Sun is from an item by Rafe Mair, one of Canada's most popular open line radio broadcasters, and a former politician. Being almost a carbon copy of my own career and life history, I hope it may serve as an inspiration and /or a "wake up pill" for many of our readers around the world. For example, when was the last time you made an effort to learn a new skill? Something challenging and adventurous, like skin diving in Belize, rafting in the Fraser Canyon or the rapids canyons of Ethiopia with my friend Maurizio Melloni, or canoeing on a crocodile infested river in tropical Africa. To some people, learing to operate a computer is a daunting challenge - but leads to a whole new world of discovery. How long has it been since you strapped on a pair of skis, or took the bicycle out for a spin. Have you ridden a horse lately, or tossed a football?

My 91 year old friend Elyse White of Harlem, New York is a prime example of someone who never misses a beat. She and I danced to our favorite, fast-moving Fats Domino tunes at Accra's Golden Tulip Hotel in Ghana. It was long after many of the gang (40-60 year olds) had turned in for the night. A few months later in Orlando, Florida, I watched her become an official Ashante Queen in full regalia, with the same pomp and ceremony as performed at Kumasi during a typical festival. Elyse 'lives and loves to travel' and hasn't missed a single Africa Travel Association Annual Congress since the event began in 1976. Cape Town will be her tweny-sixth. She's still learning new skills and looking for new and different challenges - which we talk about frequently by e-mail. Her sign off name is 'Mama Safari,' which is a statement in itself.

Yes, there's so much to enjoy in life's journey, so one must be sure to seize the moment, for as the wise ones say, "learning is a lifelong experience." E-mail:

map pageIf you hear about a case of age discrimination
in travel or employment, e-mail:


Society for the Advancement of Travel
for the Handicapped and Mature


Excerpt from Rafe Mair's column ....

"There's no doubt that my life can be easily divided into two parts
; the first 40 years or so,, the years the locusts ate, and from then until now a frenetic drive to catch up.

Why did this all happen? I think it was because when I turned 40, or thereabouts, I felt that I had wasted my life. I had played too much golf (by far), drunk too much whisky and played too much cards (ditto), and chased too many women (ditto again). I looked back and saw a barren stretch with tiny little occasional oases of accomplishment and was scared that I'd blown it.

Why am I telling you all this? First, because I think any reader has the right to know something about the author. Second, because I sense there may be others out there who think that because they haven't accomplished what they wanted by certain age they are doomed to miss the boat.

I have not really accomplished all that much. But I have, in the past 25 years, attained more of my potential than before. And that surely is what it's all about. Not very many of us will go right to the top, but we can do better - and if one is a late bloomer, it might help to know that you can do better even with a self imposed slow start."

Mr. Mair can be heard weekday mornings on Canada's WIC network,
originating from Radio Station CKNW 980 AM.

How to beat "Ageism" and get a job
(Even if You are Slightly Over the Hill)

The Baby Boomers are aging, but at the same time they are not willing to go off to pasture the way earlier generations chose to. Today's 40, 50, 60 year olds want to remain productive. If you are concerned about how welcome you will be in the workplace as you add another candle on your cake this year, consider these ideas for staying in the employment game.

1.Shave years off your looks - get an evaluation from a salon and dress shop about your make up, hair and clothing. Or if you are a male, get an evaluation from a barbershop and a men's clothing store. You may be putting out signals that are not necessary and may shave years off yourself by looking as up to date as possible.

2.Downplay dates on your resume - go for a functional resume that highlights more of your accomplishments than your dates of hire: Yana Parker has some great suggestions for functional resumes on her Web site ( and in her books.

3.Continue to learn new skills - show your willingness to stay up to date by taking further training. If you are currently taking more classes, you will demonstrate your ability to be a life long learner.

4.Look for work through your contacts - Richard Bolles reminds us of the value of this in this interview with Fast Company: . You'll be apt to get a better reception if you meet potential employers through a referral network.

5. Be seen as an expert in your field - If you can be visible by writing or speaking, do so. The more you rise to the top of your field, the greater the chances that your age will become a non-issue. Look at management gurus such as Peter Drucker who is still going strong in old age. No one questions his age or his ability to do his work.

6.Stay physically fit - there is a distinction between biological age and chronological age. If you line up people who were born in the same year, you will see people who have aged gracefully and those who have not. Chances are those who look older are people who have not exercised continuously nor have been careful about their diets.

7.Transfer expertise from another field - if you have developed a reputation in one field such as marketing, look for other fields who can profit from your knowledge. What start up organizations would give their eyeteeth to have someone with your seasoned abilities on their team?

8.Seek professions where a bit of gray is revered rather than reviled - consultants are generally drawn from the ranks of "seasoned" people whereas computer programmers are often expected to be young and malleable. If you are changing careers especially, be aware that some fields are friendlier to older people.

9. Get to know younger blood - sometimes people become outmoded because they choose to spend their time solely with people from their own age cohort. This behavior can be very limiting. The wider the range of people with whom you spend time, the more receptive you will be to new ideas.

10.Embrace computer skills - let's face it - computers are here to stay. The more you know your way around them, the better. If you don't know all that you need to, demonstrate your willingness to learn more computer skills.

May be reproduced or transmitted if done so in its entirety, including this copyright line: Copyright © 1999, by WorkLife Solutions, Inc., all rights reserved

Africa and the Plus 50s Market
by Jerry W. Bird

During my media career, I've written features for seniors newspapers and a national maturity magazine. The reward came via the mailbox, from individuals and couples all over the USA and Canada who sought travel advice. Some provided anecdotes from their own life's journey. Living for six years in Point Roberts, Wa, a laid back border community 3 hours north of Seattle, my mailbox was often overflowing with cards and letters. This volume usually quadrupled after I had written an article about rail travel.

Proof Positive: There's no better example of the "ageless attitude" than Elyse White, an ATA (Africa Travel Association) member from Harlem. We call her "Mama Safari" and have had the pleasure of being her house guest on several occasions. At age 90, Elyse became as a Queen of the Ashanti in Ghana. She has attended every ATA Congress for the past 25 years.

While in Orlando Florida for the American Travel Market, I took in several seminars hosted by SATH, the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (and Mature). I was proud to share the moment with this organization which has done so much to advance the awareness of their members special needs. We will be participating in a major Congress with the SATH membership at the ATA 26th Congress in
South Africa this May.

Grey Boomers love to travel: Every few minutes a member of the coveted baby boomer generation turns 50, which means that today's folks over-60 will soon be the most influential of all age groups. Nowhere is this more evident than in the world of travel and tourism. The Seniors (age 55+) we target are upscale, educated, active, financially secure, and open to new ideas about travel and travel destinations. That's exciting news for Africa. North America's Seniors represent one of the most powerful market segments for travel marketers. As a group, they have awesome buying power, plenty of free time and more disposable income. Many own their own homes and most love to travel, which opens the door to the latest phenomena -- the home exchange program which we applaud. Seniors give consistently to charities and have many hobbies and interests. Many are becoming computer-savvy, which is borne out by the mail we receive on this website. Keep it up!

Our report on the Seniors Market for Africa Travel Magazine and its partner publications will appear on this web site in installments starting immediately.

Freed from the responsibilities of full-time jobs and child-raising seniors are among the world's most frequent travelers and their numbers are growing rapidly. To benefit from this "agequake" tourism destinations need to better understand the thinking of older persons and design products that meet their special needs.

WTO Quality of Tourism Studies
When surveyed about what they want to spend money on in their retirement years, seniors put travel at the top of their list- far ahead of any other consumer expenditure. This propensity to travel and demographic trends that show the world's over 60 population climbing from 593 million in 1999 to more than 2 billion by 2050 will further stimulate the already booming senior tourism sector.

The great potential of senior tourism is not yet clearly seen by tourism policy makers," said WTO Chief of Quality of Tourism Development Henryk Handszuh.

Young Thinking

Although it may sound obvious, tourism marketers need to understand that senior travelers do not think of themselves as old. According to Austrian expert Rudolph Zinell of Focus Management Consulting, seniors tend to think they look 8 years younger than they are and report they feel about 14 years younger than their actual age.

In fact, people are unveiling to consider themselves as seniors until after their 70th birthday. This is why companies should try to avoid the 'Senior" label, using instead more neutral labels such as "50 plus" or 'Best Agers'

Austrian researchers also report a value shift by seniors, away from family, work and sacrifice towards enjoyment, self-realization and fun. For seniors, travel is reward for a life full of working and sacrifice.

Benefits of Travel

Travel helps to mitigate many of the negative aspects of ageing, according to speaker Graham Dann of the University of Luton in the United Kingdom.

"The loss of freedom, declining status, discrimination and social exclusion, can all be alleviated by the ego-enhancing properties of tourism," said Professor Dann. "Holidays for seniors can provide a more caring and protective setting and greater opportunities for companionship, friendship and self-discovery"

This is part of the thinking behind social tourism schemes for seniors operating in several European countries. In addition, social tourism keeps hotels and resorts busy in the off-season and helps maintain year-round employment in the tourism industry.

Spain's social tourism program IMSERSO, for example, organizes some 400,000 trips a year for seniors, while INATEL has some 45,000 seniors taking part in its week-long vacation program.

France's Cheques Vacances program, which was founded 21 years ago, provides holidays for 80,000 low income people including seniors.


Agreeing that senior tourism can enhance the quality of life for participants and strengthen the tourism sector especially in the low season, participants, representing 20 nations, issued a declaration called the Lisbon Letter on Senior Tourism. It urges policy makers to implement special senior fares for air, sea and land transport, especially on a regional basis such as within the European Union. It recommends that tourism programs that ensure-among other thinks - better safety, health services, access, nutritious food, interaction with local communities, cultural visits, outdoor activities, structured social activities, an adequate pace for physical exercise, as well as fair and clear information.

Senior Travel International travelers over 60

Germany 20%

UK 16%

France 30%

Italy 13%

Spain 15%

USA 27%

Canada 28%

Japan 27%