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On the eve of International Youth Day, WYSE Travel Confederation joined with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Hilton to discuss the impact of the growing youth travel market and the influence young travellers have on developing sustainable tourism.

WYSE Travel Confederation board member and Hostelling International USA CEO, Russ Hedge, represented WYSE Travel Confederation in the UN Youth General Assembly discussion, The Power of Youth: Making a Difference in Sustainable Tourism. The session was held in New York on 11 August 2017. WYSE Travel Confederation is an affiliate member of UNWTO and is working closely with the organisation to support the UN’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 initiatives.

Hedge presented findings from The Global Report on the Power of Youth Travel by the UNWTO and WYSE Travel Confederation, which shows that youth and student travel markets are increasingly important and resilient.

Russ Hedge presents at UN Youth General Assembly

Russ Hedge presents for WYSE Travel Confederation at the UN Youth General Assembly on 11 August 2017

Young people represent around 23% of the 1,235 million tourists travelling internationally each year. Hedge described the vast opportunities available in this growing market.

“For emerging entrepreneurs that is an amazing market place. For creatives, it is an audience all about new ideas new expectations infused by travel. And, for change makers this is a group all about evolving attitudes and behaviours you can build upon,” Hedge explained.

Hedge highlighted research from the New Horizons survey, WYSE Travel Confederation’s global survey of the youth and student traveller which is conducted every five years. The survey has consistently found that youth and student travel is much more than holiday travel. Youth travellers also pursue language learning, work and study, volunteering, and au pair opportunities.

Hedge explained that from these experiences, young travellers gain a thirst for more travel plus cultural knowledge, awareness and tolerance. From there, he presented an important question for the attendees of the UN Youth General Assembly. “What happens to the lessons we learned on the road- do we share them with others?” asked Hedge. “The tolerance and understanding we came to find in other countries, can we effectively take that back to our local communities?”

The session also included a question and answer segment and a panel discussion. Additional participants in the session were:

        • Sandra Carvao, Chief, Communications, UNWTO
        • Daniella Foster, Senior Director of Global Corporate Responsibility, Hilton
        • Russ Hedge, Representative of WYSE Travel Confederation and Hostelling International
        • Susan Reichle, President, International Youth Foundation
        • Kelley Louise, Executive Director, Travel SocialGood and Travel Blogger
        • Shoaib Rizvi, Youth Assembly Awardee 2017

      You can watch the session in its entirety here: