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UK tourism minister backs youth travel

The UK secretary of state for arts, heritage and tourism, Michael Ellis, put his weight behind the UK’s inbound youth travel sector saying that its economic and socio-economic importance should be more widely recognised.

Photo: The PIE News

The minister said that young people often travel for longer and may spend 50% more than older travellers.

Speaking at the annual British Educational Travel Association parliamentary reception in London, he said that young travellers often spend more money and time than their older counterparts, and that they ought to be encouraged to come to the UK today to be “the job creators, the wealth creators of tomorrow”.

“The last thing we are is complacent”

“The last thing we are is complacent,” Ellis underlined to delegates representing ELT, study tour and accommodation interests across youth travel – alluding to the work the UK needs to do to maintain market share in the competitive youth travel sector.

“Youth and student travel is a thriving segment of the UK’s vibrant tourism market,” he continued. “I feel the sector’s considerable contribution, that’s to say its social and economic value, could be acknowledged more widely than it actually is.”

Citing recent BETA research, the minister said that the solid 5% year-on-year growth was impressive, adding that young people often travel for longer and may spend 50% more than older travellers.

“There are not many outside the sector who recognise that this is impressive,” he suggested.

The MP for Northampton North highlighted that young people often travel during the quieter season and stated that the UK offers a “dazzling array of exciting and rewarding activities” including improving their English, taking part in theatre studies, summer schools and volunteering opportunities.

Ellis also suggested that international students who revel in the welcome they receive can create “considerable additional value” in the UK through exciting new business ventures.

Steve Lowy, chair of BETA, used the occasion to call for more youth travel-specific events such as outward trade missions.

“With concerns over where our place will be on the world stage post-Brexit, we need government to make sure [the industry] is protected and grown. We know that young people bring long-lasting benefits as well as immediate boost to the economy.”

He added his voice to calls to omit students from the net migration count. “We must remove students from the net migration figures to make sure that people from outside our industry understand the true value of these young people coming to our shores.”

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