WYSE Travel Confederation, the world’s largest network of youth and student travel operators, is excited to announce the successful presentation of its San Diego Declaration at the UN World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 94th Executive Council in Campeche, Mexico. The Declaration, an initiative intended to encourage member states to actively sponsor national youth tourism policies, has been added to the official agenda of UNWTO’s next General Assembly, which meets in Victoria Falls in August, 2013.
The San Diego Declaration was created this September at the World Youth Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in San Diego, California, USA, as an extension of WYSE Travel Confederation Members’ desire to inform local and national governments of the substantial value of youth tourism. WYSTC is the annual global event for the youth tourism industry.
Today, young travelers represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry, accounting for 20% of all international arrivals. They represent a global market worth US$185 billion - more than the annual revenue of Facebook (US$4.3 billion) and Apple (US$153 billion), the world’s most valuable brand.
“We are thrilled the UNWTO is considering the San Diego Declaration in its next General Assembly, and we hope for its full adoption. For those of us in the youth and student tourism industry, we see how vital young people are to the tourism sector, and how vital tourism is to young people,” said WYSE Travel Confederation Director General Espen Falkenhaug, “Tourism is one of the world’s most promising drivers of economic growth, and considering the numbers, youth tourism is even more so. We believe promoting youth tourism is an essential competitive factor for destinations and companies.”
UNWTO Secretary-General Mr.Taleb Rifai, who was present at the San Diego conference when the Declaration was made, reaffirmed his commitment to supporting youth travel, given the many social and economic benefits it can bring to destinations worldwide. “Young travelers tend to stay longer and interact more closely with the communities they visit than the average tourist. As such, youth travel has emerged as one of the most promising paths towards a more responsible and sustainable tourism sector.”
Many of the tourism ministers present at the Executive Council also expressed their interest in this dynamic sector. Mexico’s Minister of Tourism, Gloria Guevara, tweeted after the presentation, “The first meeting day of the Executive Council #OMT has been really productive, many topics have been covered, for example the importance of youth travel.”
The addition of the Declaration on to the UNWTO’s agenda is a huge boon for WYSE Travel Confederation as the industry body for the youth and student travel industry. WYSE Travel Confederation believes the acceptance of the Declaration within the global community will ensure youth travel tourism remains high on the agenda of national governments and their destinations.