Last updated: 08:00 PM ET, Mon June 15 2015

WYSE Readies Major Youth Travel Show in South Africa

Destination & Tourism | James Ruggia | June 15, 2015

WYSE Readies Major Youth Travel Show in South Africa

PHOTO: Don’t sell them short, young travelers constitute a lucrative market. 

From Sept. 22 to 25, Cape Town South Africa will be the host of this year’s World Youth and Student Travel Conference - WYSTC 2015. The program will feature more than 30 seminars and workshops. Now in its 24th year, the World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation represents a sector that generated $230 billion in tourism receipts in 2013 and accounted for 227 million international arrivals in 2014. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) projects the youth travel market will reach $320 billion by 2020.

“There’s a misconception that youth travel isn’t lucrative,” said Laura Daly, WYSE’s deputy director, “but they spend more in total than other travelers over a longer period of time.” The WYSE defines the market as between 18 and 35. Within the broad spectrum of youth travel are such aspects as language schools and work abroad. It’s often the case that a young traveler working or studying abroad will attract other travelers to visit him or her, such as parents, siblings or friends.  

The WYSTC 2015 offers one way to learn more about youth travel. The show is expected to attract more than 600 travel professionals to Cape Town’s International Convention Centre. More than 450 businesses and 120 countries participate in the show. Delegates can book up to 45 pre-scheduled business appointments, each lasting 20 minutes.

“As the only global event dedicated to developing this thriving industry, delegates will have the opportunity to connect with up to 600 industry professionals from across the world under one roof,” said WYSE Travel Confederation’s Director General, David Chapman,. “They will also be able to update their knowledge with the latest research and insights from leading industry speakers.”

The WYSE Travel Confederation of more than 800 international members provides international travel experiences to more than 10 million youth and students each year. Members include everything from adventure tour operators to au pair agencies, cultural exchange programs to language schools, hop-on-hop-off buses to student insurance and youth hostels to volunteer programs. “We want to work more closely with travel agents,” said Daly. “We offer webinars online to show how agents can profit from the market.”

WYSE isn’t the only group extolling youth travel. The ITB World Travel Trends Report 2013/14, commissioned by ITB Berlin from IPK International, reports that young people around the world are traveling more, spending more and exploring new destinations. Youth travel was long seen as a small part of the travel and tourism industry, characterized by cheap prices and low spending. However, the picture has changed in recent years, according to diverse studies. The average cost of a trip by a young person amounted to $910. The number of international trips by young people might increase from 200 million trips a year at present to 300 million by 2020, UNWTO has predicted.

“Young people represent 20 percent of the total global travel market,” said Chapman. The key reasons for this growth are that today’s youth has more money to spend on travel, is traveling more often and to more distant countries than in the past. Traditional backpackers are declining while “flashpackers” – hi-tech, socially connected young travelers – are becoming a new part of the market.

“Young people are traveling more to long-haul destinations,” Chapman said. Moreover, there is an attractive financial benefit for destinations attracting young visitors. “Older people tend to stay in internationally owned hotels, so the profits are exported. However, young people stay in locally owned accommodation, so their money tends to stay in the destination,” he said. The WYSE unveiled the first report in its 2015 Industry Flash Survey Series. The survey was conducted in March and April among global youth travel accommodation (YTA) providers. The report indicates that OTAs now account for 23 percent of all hostel bookings. is now the leading OTA for hostel bookings in all regions of the world. The report also highlighted the potential of social media as a booking source, particularly for smaller providers, where it accounted for between 5 and 11 percent of bookings for providers with fewer than 100 beds.


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