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Young Travellers Turn Backs on Beach Holidays In Favour of Gaining Work Experience

September 13, 2013 Association No Comments Email Email
Young travellers are shunning the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays and are now travelling with a view to improving their employment prospects, new research has revealed.
At a time of rising youth unemployment and global economic austerity, research by theWorld Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE Travel Confederation) reveals that the numbers simply travelling for leisure has plummeted. In 2007 over three quarters of young travellers cited taking a holiday as their main motivation behind travel, but this has now fallen to Excellence250X250pxjust 47%.

Instead young travellers are seeking to improve their CVs with WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizon’s III research showing that 22% want to travel to learn a language, while 15% travel to gain work experience, and a further 15% now travel to study – all significantly up from 2007.

The research shows the growing complexity of the youth travel sector. While the motivations for youth travel have greatly expanded so too has the demographic of those considering themselves as travellers.

This evolution of the industry has in turn attracted a new raft of companies and businesses into the sector that were not previously associated with youth travel. Companies as broad as those specializing in sports equipment to travel insurance and financial services are now providing valuable services to the growing youth travel market.

In addition to an increase in young travellers wanting to gain work experience and increase their employability, there has also been an increase in young travellers moving to live outside their country of origin.  Just under 11% of those surveyed are now living abroad and are most likely have a higher education level and income.

Interestingly this group are also less likely to see themselves as travellers but more as locals and are twice as likely to ‘live like a local’ when they travel abroad. This reflects the growing trend of cultural tourism, such as taking time to immerse themselves in local cultures (over 90% of young travellers cite exploring other cultures as the main reason for travel), interacting with local people and experiencing everyday life in the destinations they visit.

While the trend of cultural tourism has grown amongst young Western travellers, travelling to study or gain work experience very much of primary importance of those from the emerging markets of China, Brazil and Russia.

The results have been taken from WYSE Travel Confederation’s New Horizons III research. This is the latest update in a benchmark study first conducted in 2002 and then in 2007. The research is the largest of its kind ever undertaken, surveying over 34,000 respondents from 137 countries and looks at the motivations and unique travel characteristics.

Full results from the New Horizons III study will be unveiled on Tuesday 17th September at the World Youth Student & Travel Conference (WYSTC), which is taking place in Sydney.

David Chapman, WYSE Travel Confederation Director General said: “The change in motivation behind travelling is one of the starkest shift in trends the youth travel sector has seen in the last five years. It’s fascinating to see from the research how people now see travel as an integral part of their future with such uncertainty surrounding jobs and with so much uncertainty in the economic climate.”

Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) added: “Travel is one of the best educational experiences. By immersing in other cultures, learning foreign languages and experiencing different ways of thinking, young people broaden their perspectives, become aware of global issues, and infuse the values of respect and tolerance in an increasingly diverse world. 

“Tourism can only make its fullest contribution to the world´s economic and social wellbeing if governments are awake to the potential of youth travel and fully understand its impact on destinations. This is why carrying out vital research like New Horizons is so important.” 

For further information about New Horizons III and WYSTC please contact Rosanagh de Stacpoole at or +44 (0) 207 479 4330

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