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Is youth travel ready for an opportunity or a disaster?

Apr 11, 2019

The year is 2030.

Close to 2 billion travellers are traversing international borders.

Cash is obsolete.

Biometrics are firmly rooted.

Mobility-as-a-Service has matured.

Airbnb finally found a way forward with cities to the mutual benefit of residents and tourists.

Google competes with Instagram for bookings.

People travel with purpose and are conscious of positive impact because ‘living like a local’ just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Facebook is gone.

Trump is gone. [sigh]

The UK is still Brexiting. [sigh again]

The projections that travel professionals made more than a decade ago were conservative, but it had always been an uphill task to convince the upper echelons that youth travel could be a catalyst for positive change. Those who heeded the advice of Taleb Rifai in early 2019 seem to have survived the storm of tourism growth and management, turning international travel into billions of opportunities instead of billions of disasters.

Tourism’s ugly reputation in many European destinations went to the global media long ago. Cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, and Paris experimented with measures to limit new hotel development, increase taxes on visitors, and restrict flows through historic districts that had become too crowded for anyone’s enjoyment and safety. Come to think of it, we let a lot of negative things get global media attention just before 2020. What were we thinking?

We were thinking, ‘given these new parameters, how can we evolve to be an even better product, service, company, and industry?’

Here in 2019, it’s easy to say with confidence that the youth travel industry has always known an opportunity when it sees one. It handles nearly a quarter of the world’s international arrivals each year and has embraced challenges as a privileged space for innovation. So, let’s get to it. The youth travel industry should continue to lead the way off mainstream tourism’s beaten path and WYSE Travel Confederation is here to facilitate intra-industry innovation.