Conference shows trend change for youth

Young travellers are shunning the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays and are now travelling with a view to improving their employment prospects, new research has revealed.

At a time of rising youth unemployment and global economic austerity, research by the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation reveals that the numbers simply travelling for leisure has plummeted. In 2007 over three quarters of young travellers cited taking a holiday as their main motivation behind travel, but this has now fallen to just 47%.

Instead young travellers are seeking to improve their CVs with WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizon’s III research showing that 22% want to travel to learn a language, while 15% travel to gain work experience and a further 15% now travel to study – all significantly up from 2007.

The research shows the growing complexity of the youth travel sector. While the motivations for youth travel have greatly expanded so too has the demographic of those considering themselves as travellers.

This evolution of the industry has in turn attracted a new raft of companies and businesses into the sector that were not previously associated with youth travel. Companies as broad as those specializing in sports equipment to travel insurance and financial services are now providing valuable services to the growing youth travel market.

In addition to an increase in young travellers wanting to gain work experience and increase their employability, there has also been an increase in young travellers moving to live outside their country of origin. Just under 11% of those surveyed are now living abroad and are most likely have a higher education level and income.

Interestingly this group are also less likely to see themselves as travellers but more as locals and are twice as likely to ‘live like a local’ when they travel abroad. This reflects the growing trend of cultural tourism, such as taking time to immerse themselves in local cultures (over 90% of young travellers cite exploring other cultures as the main reason for travel), interacting with local people and experiencing everyday life in the destinations they visit.

While the trend of cultural tourism has grown amongst young western travellers, travelling to study or gain work experience very much of primary importance of those from the emerging markets of China, Brazil and Russia.

The results have been taken from WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons III research. This is the latest update in a benchmark study first conducted in 2002 and then in 2007. The research is the largest of its kind ever undertaken, surveying over 34,000 respondents from 137 countries and looks at the motivations and unique travel characteristics.

Full results from the New Horizons III study will be unveiled tomorrow [17 September] at the World Youth Student & Travel Conference, which is taking place in Sydney.

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