The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Youth Student & Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation will work in partnership to promote and develop the multi-billion dollar youth and student travel industry. Youth tourism currently represents the fastest growing sector of the travel industry, accounting for 20% of international arrivals. Compared with average tourists, young travellers stay longer, spend more, and seek out a wider mix of travel and educational experiences.
Locally-owned businesses and communities particularly benefit from adventurous young travellers, whose global spend also reduces leakages and stimulates investment.
However, relatively few countries are currently engaged in activities to promote youth and student tourism. A WYSE Travel Confederation/UNWTO study showed that only a third of countries have a student or youth tourism policy; less than a third collect statistics on the market; only a quarter have policies for product development; and less than a third have a marketing policy - yet 60% recognise this market as important for the future of their tourism industry.
‘‘Youth tourism contributes to the development of young minds and international tolerance. The UNWTO has recognised the economic importance and social value of youth travel. Young travellers of today set travel trends for the future, travel with a purpose and make a unique contribution to sustainable tourism practices and poverty alleviation “, says David Jones, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation. “We look forward to a fruitful partnership with UNWTO and to delivering this message to governments and industry worldwide’‘.
Throughout 2007 and beyond, WYSE Travel Confederation and UNWTO will work together to promote youth and student travel by:
—Compiling research and publishing a ‘Youth Travel Compendium of Research’ which will be used to encourage governments to actively support and market youth tourism products and services.
—Organising global seminars and events for government officials, national tourism authorities, educational specialists and commercial sector leaders
—Promoting responsible travel habits and practices, as well as the sustainable development of tourism.