Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director, Languages Canada, Canada
Youth Travel is defined as independent trips of less than one year by people aged 15-30. Unlike typical vacations, youth travel is motivated by many factors, including the desire to experience other cultures, build life experience, and benefit from formal and informal learning opportunities from other countries.
Types of Product Marketed to Youth Travellers
|Adventure Travel||Student Insurance|
|Au Pair Experience||Student Flights|
|Backpacking/Flashpacking||Student Identity Cards|
|Cultural Exchange||Student Leisure Travel|
|International Higher Education||Summer Camps|
|Language Travel||Work Abroad|
|Sports Travel||Youth Travel Accommodation|
The youth, student and educational travel market accounts for over 20% of all international arrivals (equals to 196 million arrivals and US$173 billion in 2011).
Youth travellers stay longer (average 53 days), spend more (US$1,000 to US$6,000 per trip) and travel more frequently (1.44 trip pa) than the average tourist and more often than not, they use their money with local retailers.
Youth, student and educational travel is a stable ongoingly growing industry. Boasting continued to growth also during and despite the global economic downturn – outperforming global tourism (e.g. 28.8% 5YTD in Higher Education).
Youth Travel influences the size and patterns of Global Tourism development. Young travellers form their future purchasing and travelling patterns often based on their youth travel experiences (estimated long-life travel budget US$40,000 - 120,000 per traveller).
A conservative estimate predicts that the youth, student and educational travel market will reach 300 million arrivals by 2020 and represent US$320 billion in market value.
Governments, destinations, investment capital, international brands are all increasingly looking into youth and student travel, interest, investments, buyouts, mergers and acquisitions in youth and student travel increased significantly in recent years.
Market value (selected sectors):
Youth, student and educational travel is becoming increasingly more important within global tourism. In the in 1990’s, it represented 15% of the tourism market, with it increasing to 20% in the last decade, and expected to reach 25% in the near future.
Rapidly rising middle class (from current 2 billion to 5 billion in 2030) and increased access to more disposable income, means more purchasing power – the number of youth travellers is on the rise.
Increased appetite for more international experiences, more affordable transportation prices, fewer political and cultural barriers and ease of travel, are only some of the drivers influencing the youth, student and educational travel market.
As a result of globalisation businesses are more and more seeking employees with international experience. This has in turn, influenced all sectors within youth, student and educational travel. A trend confirmed by the increasing frequency of travel and number of trips taken by young travellers and our market polls.
Longer stays (on average over 50 days) and higher spends (on average US$1,000 to US$6,000 per trip compared to US$1,450 for average tourist) among youth travellers, deliver a significant business opportunity for destinations and suppliers.
Diversification in destinations and source markets is seeing growth at the expense of developed countries across all youth, student and educational travel sectors.
BRIC and emerging countries are the markets that look interesting for development and expansion and will define the industry. They are recovering and rising faster than developed countries - gaining an increasingly more global market share.
Internet is used more for reference, social content (reviews, rankings, sharing, recommendations) and travel planning (destination research) than for actual online shopping and booking. This slower growth of online booking in youth travel as opposed to Global Tourism confirms the importance of tour operators and agencies to the youth market.
Tour operators and sending agencies (distributions partners) represent an important booking and promotional channel in youth and student travel, accounting for up to 80% of all bookings, with increasing trend of their usage by end customers. There are more than 26,000 student tour operators and agencies in this market, mostly small, making for a fragmented landscape where it is a challenge to find right partners in source market, on the one hand, and offering great opportunity for large brands and investors on the other hand.