Samuel Vetrak, CEO at StudentMarketing, pointed out that this first-of-its-kind MoU for a student travel specialist company and the UN agency should help shine the spotlight on how valuable youth and student tourism is.
“We want destinations to realise that this [sector] is not only good for their revenues now, but also for the future because youth travellers return to a country as business and leisure tourists later on, spending part of their US$80,000 ‘lifetime tourism budget’,” he said.
Based on industry research, it is estimated that 20% of all international arrivals are in the youth travel sector and 60% of these are students.
Total value of the youth and student travel sector was US$224 billion in 2014, and is expected to overcome business travel in terms of international arrivals in 2015.
In some markets in particular, such as Australia, 44% of all tourism spending is accounted for by the youth travel segment.
UNWTO works with affiliates to further understanding of various sectors of tourism. Other MoUs signed at the same time include one with Universidad Internacional de la Rioja in Spain, to consider wine tourism, youth tourism and one with VIP World Events, aimed at bettering understanding around high-end convention tourism.
“Partnerships are a priority for UNWTO and we are very pleased to consolidate our relationships with such active UNWTO Affiliate Members through these agreements” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.
He added that “cooperation between public, private sector and the academia are fundamental pillars to advance knowledge and competitiveness in our sector”.