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The World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation has launched a new industry development initiative to provide support to destinations looking to grow their international youth arrivals.

The Destination Development Programme offers a suite of services designed to assist national tourism, destination management, plus regional and local tourism organisations – along with industry associations – with building, implementing and evaluating youth-focused destination strategies to better target this industry.With an estimated 227 million international youth travel arrivals generating almost USD 250 billion in 2014, and youth traveller arrivals forecasted to reach 320 million by 2020, this industry offers a wealth of opportunities for destinations.

This is further supported by the fact that WYSE Travel Confederation and the World Tourism Organization have announced a three percentage point increase in the size of the global youth travel market, with travellers aged 15 to 29 now representing approximately 23% of all international arrivals. The announcement was made during the welcome, opening and keynote session of the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) 2015 in Cape Town yesterday.

Today’s young travellers are also the future of the travel industry. With many benefits to bring to a destination socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally, WYSE Travel Confederation firmly believes that destinations should embrace youth travel and make the youth and student travel sector a focal point of their strategic planning.

WYSE Travel Confederation Director General David Chapman says, “Combining the financial gains with demonstrated social and cultural benefits, the youth travel sector should take centre stage in every destination’s economic and tourism strategies.”

We have the opportunity to enable the growth that we are seeing to an even greater share of international arrivals – and WYSE Travel Confederation’s Destination Development Programme will provide a valuable tool for destinations to leverage these promising trends to achieve growth.