ITB Berlin places the Youth Travel sector firmly under the spotlight

Youth Travel is a popular segment at ITB Berlin each year, with experts and newcomers alike.

Most of the young travellers (aged 15 to 29) of today come from two generational cohorts: generation Y, born between the early 1980s and 2000 and better known as “millennials,” and generation Z, born after 2000. Roughly 50% of millennial and gen Z travellers are travelling for the purpose of holidays, but the other 50% are undertaking experiential travel such as work abroad, language study, higher education, au-pairing, and volunteering. These experiential youth travellers generally stay longer and spend more.

Research by WYSE Travel Confederation and UNWTO indicated that while the total value of the international youth travel market was almost US$190 bn in 2009, by 2018 that figure had risen to more than US$308 bn. Based on UNWTO forecasts for global tourism growth, it was estimated that by this year, almost 370 million youth travellers would account for a total spend of over US$400 billion.

WYSE Travel Confederation’s “New Horizons” research in 2017 indicated that young travellers spent on average a total of €2,867 on their main trip. Young people often take much longer trips than most other tourists – 52 days was the global average in 2017.

One secret to leveraging the greater spending power of young travellers is tapping into the resources of their parents (often struggling with the opposite time-money dynamic). The WYSE Travel Confederation New Horizons Survey has shown that just under a quarter of young travellers’ expenditure tends to be financed by family and friends. Another secret is for destinations to enable young travellers to work in order to earn additional money during their travels.

The New Horizons IV survey by WYSE Travel Confederation uncovered a number of new developments; notably:

  • Growing information intensity, with a wider range of sources and booking channels
  • Accelerated growth within the sharing economy
  • Increased travel spending and the top ‘splurges’ for young travellers
  • A major jump in desire to live like a local, the motivations and influences fuelling this desire
  • The rise of digital nomadism
  • Continued success of festivals and events in attracting youth travellers and promoting local development
  • A shift towards low-cost airlines and a surge in OTA bookings

The high value of youth travel also lies in the “lifetime value” that young people deliver to destinations over the course of their travel career, as travellers often return to the places they visited earlier in life.