David Franks —
Let’s face it, today’s youth are the most digital savvy, interconnected generation to date. With the world at their fingertips, today’s Millennials have unprecedented access to the world and each other.
The ability to interact with people thousands of miles away has also sparked a deep sense of curiosity in our younger generation. So much so that those born in the last two and a half decades now value experiences, a value system now known as the “experience economy”, over other pursuits, such as the pursuit of wealth.
Over the last decade, the younger demographic has turned to global travel as a way to better understand the world and gather valuable life experience. As a result, student and youth-focused travel has become the fastest growing sub-sector within the travel industry.
In 2015, 270 million young travellers accounted for roughly 23 percent of the entire international tourism market, spending more than $283 billion worldwide.
A comprehensive study of the student travel industry, commissioned by the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE), found the industry can expect to welcome 300 million youth travelers annually by 2020.
“Our research shows that the nature of youth travel has changed enormously in the past decade,” said David Chapman, director general for the WYSE Travel Confederation. “Young travellers today want, more than ever, to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home.”
For a generation intent on travelling with purpose, tourism operators and providers have had to adapt and offer meaningful and educational travel experiences. Tourism providers that have risen to the occasion understand young people don’t want to spend their days passively lounging in beach chairs. Instead, they seek a mix of cultural immersion, language learning, and volunteer experiences.
With youth travel becoming big business, the market is ripe with providers wanting to capture a segment of the market. In an attempt to set the best tourism companies apart from the rest, every year the best youth tourism companies in the world are celebrated by WYSE at the Global Youth Travel Awards.
This year’s awards were handed out in late September, as part of the WYSE international conference. The 2016 winners were selected for their ongoing commitment to provide the best vacation experiences for young people, with the group of winners coming from all around the globe.
Canadian-based I Love Travel took home Best Youth Tour Operator, the ceremony’s top honour. The company, which is headquartered in Toronto, has carved out its place as a leader in the youth tourism market through developing truly innovative trips for its young travelers, as well as through its support and connection with their other travel brands, which include S-Trip!, Breakaway Tours and Campus Vacations.
“Everyone at I Love Travel is thrilled about winning the 2016 Best Youth Travel Award. For anyone who has worked on any of our student and youth brands, S-Trip!, Breakaway Tours, or Campus Vacations, this is a culmination of everyone’s hard work, and the support from our amazing community of global youth travelers,” said Derek Champoux, Communications Director.
S-Trip!, a student trip provider focused on providing the #TripofaLifetime for its young travelers, has seen a steady increase in business over recent years. The company’s popularity comes as a direct result of the various immersive volunteer components each S-Trip! graduation vacation encompasses.
In just ten short years, the face of the tourism industry has changed drastically. Today, young people are increasingly considered the standard for trip building and are widely touted as global trendsetters.
With their eagerness to explore and discover the world in high definition, these young tourists are putting new demands on the tourism industry. This shift is effectively fueling the evolution of travel, tourism 2.0 if you will, where tourists are engaged and truly curious global citizens who are anxious to learn about the destinations they visit.