Young people (16-29-year-olds) spend more than any other group on international travel, according to a new study by the World Tourism Organisation. Youth Travel Matters: Understanding the Global Phenomenon of Youth Travel, published in Madrid, Spain, in May 2008, also found out that the youth market is growing faster than most other travel segments. OGOVA ONDEGO reports.
The youth travel market is a US$136 billion a year industry, accounts for 20% of the estimated 160 million tourist arrivals annually and the average youth spends US$2600 per trip, according to research conducted by the World Tourism Organisation.
Titled Youth Travel Matters: Understanding the Global Phenomenon of Youth Travel and published in May 2008, the survey found out that young people (16-29-year-olds) spend more than any other group on international travel.
According to the 110-page Youth Travel Matters, the total average travel expenditure by young people increased by 39% between 2002 and 2007. With a global volume growth of 3-5% a year and spend increasing by 8% a year, the youth market is growing faster than most other travel segments.
But even with this phenomenal growth, only 23% of youth travellers view themselves as ‘tourists’ with more than 42% of them expressing the desire to help people and contribute to the development of the places they visit
Developed in cooperation with the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation, Youth Travel Matters highlight some salient features related to youth travelers and the motivation, requirements and behaviour they manifest.
Saying that young people travel with the objectives of exploring and engaging with diverse cultures, mixing their travel ambitions with study, work, volunteerism and adventure, the study concludes that the youth stay longer and spend more than the average tourist, interact much more closely with the communities they visit and make a direct contribution to local businesses.
Though the important and multiple impact of youth travel has caught the attention of governments across the world, only one third of countries worldwide recognise youth travel as a specific market, and only one quarter are active in product development.
a few of them are developing youth travel policies, products and marketing campaigns.
Youth travel is stimulating the development of new market niches in areas such as specialised youth accommodation, work experience, volunteer travel, ‘au pairing’, language learning and educational travel.
Youth Travel Matters also reviews government youth policies worldwide, a profile of the behaviour of young independent travellers, an analysis of the impacts of extended travel experiences on young people’s attitudes and values, market profiles of various youth travel sectors and a bibliography of youth travel studies.
While the first chapter deals with an overview of youth and student travel, the rest of the report deals with issues such as who are the youth and student travellers? (Chapter 2), what policies do governments have? (Chapter 3), what impact does youth travel have? (Chapter 4), how are different sectors of the youth and student travel market performing? (Chapters 4-7), what is the future of youth and student travel? (Chapter 8), and what else has been written about youth and student travel?
But are there any benefits to the world in youth travel?
Results from a study that measured pre- and post-travel values, shows that the level of cultural tolerance among the participants surveyed increased 6% post-trip. Moreover, young travellers return from their trips feeling more connected to the global community and are more open minded, flexible, confident and tolerant.