Youth Travel Matters

Youth travel, as all commercial operators are aware, has been increasing and strengthening substantially in recent years. It was always unfortunate that several authorities, including UNWTO, down played its significance for so long (in spite of robust research in Australia and Switzerland that gave emphasis to its importance), and dismissed such travellers as low budget back-packers. It is good to see that UNWTO has now supported this very timely report so as to highlight some of the very important statistical evidence which champions a change of attitude. The report identifies many of the volume and value benefits (in both monetary and social terms) that youth travel brings, and sets out to try and profile the different types of youth traveller. The report provides some very informative statistical information, and should go some way in changing the perception of youth markets as low revenue or immature. It is unfortunate that in their review of market niches the report does not explore more fully the opportunities presented by the high value market of young professionals (they would consider themselves part of a youth-orientated market up to the age of 30 and beyond) who work in highly paying industries on fixed term contracts. The number of young bankers, IT specialists, and other city-type workers who take time off between contracts (and spend their bonuses..?) to enjoy foreign travel, is now highly significant, and is often influenced by their student and gap year travel. Very often new trends in domestic and international travel first appear in the youth markets, and this report provides a very effective analysis of the customer base and demographics. I can recommend that the report be on the reading list for all operators who either cater to these markets now, or want to attract them as they mature.