Silver Tourism Economy in Rural Areas in Poland: A Fad or a Permanent Element?
Purpose: The silver tourism economy means an economic system aimed at actively using the human and social capital of older adults to develop rural tourism. This paper aims to identify the supply and demand factors that favor this economy. Design/Methodology/Approach: The study used several complementary research methods. Following the methodological principle of triangulation, the method of secondary source analysis was adopted in the empirical studies in the form of reports from national surveys conducted in rural areas in Poland on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The results of these surveys are nationally representative. Statistical data published by Statistics Poland (former Central Statistical Office) was used. Finding: The silver economy in rural tourism is an essential example of non-agricultural activity and a strategy for the multifunctional development of rural areas in Poland. The paper points out the economic level of the tourism function of rural areas, which forms the supply and demand side of this economy. The importance of the elements of the human and social capital of older adults that promote the supply and demand of rural tourism is presented quantitatively and qualitatively. The utility value of the silver tourism economy at the commercial, non-commercial, and subjective and objective levels was highlighted. Practical Implications: The presented explorations have cognitive and practical value. The adopted elements of the human and social capital of older adults can be helpful in the analysis of the supply and demand of rural tourism included in local socio-economic development strategies. They can be used in strategies to promote the national and international silver economy in rural tourism. They will be helpful in the analysis of investment activities aimed at rural tourism by public and private entities. Originality/Value: The paper complements the theory of rural economics at the methodological and theoretical levels. In the methodological aspect, attention was drawn to using the methodological principle of triangulation in empirical research. The theoretical dimension of the study refers to the creation of a model of the silver tourism economy. It constitutes an economic system composed of relevant parts in structural and functional terms.