Biggest travel spending growth? Young travelers


Biggest travel spending growth? Young travelers

Young people are traveling more, staying away for longer periods of time and spending more money, according to a new report from the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation.

In 2012, $217 billion of the $1.088 trillion tourism spend worldwide came from young travelers, an increase that vastly outstripped that of other international travelers. Young travelers now represent 20 percent of international tourism, making the group an important economic force.

The study updated research initially conducted in 2002 and later in 2007, and looked at why, how and where young people travel and included survey responses from more than 34,000 young travelers from 137 countries.

"Our research shows that the nature of youth travel has changed enormously in the past decade," said David Chapman, director general for the WYSE Travel Confederation. "Young travelers today want, more than ever, to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home."

"With young people traveling further, staying away for longer, spending more, keeping in touch more and integrating with overseas communities on a scale not seen before, the industry is becoming far broader than ever before," he added.

Highlights from the report:

  • At a time of rising youth unemployment and global economic austerity, more young people than ever before are traveling to gain work, educational and cultural experiences, while those traveling purely for leisure has fallen from over 75 percent in 2007 to just 47 percent.
  • According to the report, 22 percent of young travelers want to learn a language, 15 percent want to gain work experience, and 15 percent travel to study – all significantly up from 2007.
  • Student spending has increased by 40 percent since 2007 despite the global economic climate, with young travelers requesting more varied services.
  • The age demographic of people identifying themselves as youth travelers has broadened.
  • Young travelers are spending longer periods of time abroad; the number of trips more than 60 days has increased over the last five years.
  • Hostels have overtaken hotels as the most popular form of accommodation; they are adapting to meet the demands of modern youth travelers and increasing the variety of services they offer.
  • The places that young people are traveling to are changing; they are spending less time in major gateway cities and are exploring more remote destinations than previously.
  • More young travelers now aim to 'live like a local' when they travel abroad by immersing themselves in local cultures.

Kids who are too young to travel by themselves also have a huge influence on vacation decision making.

A new survey from Holiday Inn Resort shows that if the kids aren’t on board with the decision making process, then your hotel doesn’t have a chance to win that business. That survey noted 90 percent of parents say their kids are influential when it comes to choosing a vacation destination. 

And the survey, which interviewed both kids and adults, reinforced a lot of what their collective guts already figured: Time starved families are overstressed and overscheduled and even kids think they need a vacation. Not surprisingly 97 percent of kids believe they deserve a vacation and 98 percent of kids think their parents do, too.

Top destinations: Theme Parks (29 percent), beaches (23 percent) and large cities (23 percent). Additionally, the top features parents are looking for when booking a resort hotel are pools (85 percent), Kids Suites (64 percent), kids eat free (62 percent) and special on-site activities (61 percent). 

"Location is critical and all consumer insight work we have done shows location is No. 1, not just the resort's destination but the right location in that market. Also, parents want kids to have new experiences whether it is at a beach, ski resort or theme park," Balsley said. "In many ways they want a resort to be like a cruise ship experience on land."