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Study or language learning fuels 1/3 of youth travel tourism

More young people are travelling abroad to learn a language, gain work experience and study, allowing them to stay longer at destinations and spend more than the average tourist, according to a global study on the youth travel sector from World Youth Student & Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation.

The research clearly indicates that those polled consider themselves 'travellers' as distinct from tourists

Young travellers represent 20% of the international tourism market, accounting for £138 billion of the £692 billion tourism spend in 2012, reveals the global membership body via its New Horizons III report, which updates previous research into the youth travel market conducted in 2002 and 2007.

The latest research reveals that over 1/3 of young travellers polled were travelling for language learning or study purposes, with another 16% citing work experience as their motivation. Holidays as a reason to travel dropped from 75% in 2007 to just under 50%.

The email addresses of people using or enquiring about the services of youth travel companies were used to generate responses

“With young people travelling 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,” said David Chapman Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation.

The average total spend in 2012/13 – up by 40% since 2007 – amounted to just under €3,000. Despite holidays still being the main reason for travel, the biggest spenders are considered to be travellers learning a language or studying abroad, shelling out on average €3,500 and €3,640 respectively, states the report.

Among the 34,000 young travellers surveyed from 137 countries, the top three countries of origin included Germany, US and Canada, followed by China who accounted for 7.4% of respondents.

The survey was conducted by email solicited web-based questionnaires. The email addresses of people using or enquiring about the services of youth travel companies were used to generate responses.

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 14.02.08In general, destination trends have changed in the last decade with a larger proportion of visits being made to regions including North America, China, South East Asia and the Middle East, while the proportion of trips to North and Eastern Europe have decreased.

Some 11% of travellers surveyed – especially Britons, Americans and Australians – are now living abroad and are more likely to be students who have temporarily or permanently migrated, living as locals rather than as tourists. The research clearly indicates that those polled consider themselves ‘travellers’ as distinct from tourists.

Over half of the respondees – predominantly female – were aged 20 to 25, while the 30-plus group accounted for 17% of  those surveyed, an increase since 2002. These travellers make an average of 10 inter-regional trips during their lifetime,  building what the report calls a “travel career” allowing them to visit more distant regions as they get older.

This would suggest that many of those polled were able to enjoy part-time work rights, such as in Australia or within the EU if they were also an EU national

The average length of time that travellers stayed in any one destination was 58 days, up since 2007 when most made several shorter trips.

While the survey clearly depicts the shorter-term youth travel market as opposed to the longer-term international student, it is perhaps not surprising that most students and language learners polled said they funded their stay by working during the trip, while those volunteering or on holiday used their own income.

This would suggest that many of those polled were able to enjoy part-time work rights, such as in Australia or within the EU if they were also an EU national.

Other findings within the comprehensive report indicate that a greater proportion of travellers use social media and online information to plan trips, with students from Asia and Oceania showing more interest in special youth and student products advertised on websites than other travellers.

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