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Business outlook by youth travel sector
WYSE News | March 17, 2020

Cautious with pockets of optimism

Findings from WYSE Travel Confederation’s COVID-19 business impact survey[1] show a mixed picture across various sectors when it comes to the outlook for 2020. Some experiential travel programmes, such as camp programmes, educational travel, language travel, volunteer travel and work experience travel, remain somewhat optimistic while suppliers of general travel products such as accommodation, activities & tours, and transportation anticipate the drop in business as remaining stable for the year. Furthermore, there is no correlation between the proportion of youth travel product/programme in a company’s business mix and expectations about the effect of COVID-19. In other words, both youth-focussed and general travel businesses currently share similar business outlooks in the context of the global Coronavirus outbreak.

Overall outlook by sector

Not surprisingly, most sectors reported drops in demand for Q1 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019. Camp programmes reported the smallest decrease (12%) while language travel reported the largest (34%). However, the picture is mixed in terms of what sectors are expecting for the rest of the year.

Camp programmes seem slightly optimistic about their overall prospects this year, perhaps because the summer camp season in the northern hemisphere is still a few months away. Also, educational, work experience and volunteer travel programmes seem to believe that their business prospects will remain stable for 2020. Again, this is perhaps due to timing of these programmes during the summer months. However, it should be noted that these responses were collected before any major actions were announced and implemented by the government of the United States of America, a popular destination for such programmes.[2]

Q1 2020 and anticipated 2020 business changes

Insurance was the only sector that reported positive results in Q1 2020, with a 2% average increase in demand during the period vs the same period in 2019. Insurance providers were optimistic about their prospects for the rest of the calendar year, anticipating, on average, 5% increase in business volume.

Technology providers reported a mixed picture. On average, technology reported an 11% average increase in demand during Q1 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, however, the tech sector is anticipating a 21% decrease in demand over the course of 2020.

Experiential travel sectors, such as camp programmes, educational travel, language travel, volunteer travel and work experience travel reported the largest differences in current demand and anticipated demand for the remainder of the calendar year. Of the experiential travel sectors, volunteer travel is the only sector anticipating a slightly lower drop in business for 2020, perhaps in anticipation that youth interest in helping others abroad will resume once the health risks of COVID-19 are reduced.

Providers of accommodation, activities, attractions & tours, and transportation all reported drops in demand for Q1 2020 in comparison to the same period in 2019. Unlike the experiential travel sectors, these suppliers anticipate a drop in business volume over the course of 2020 to be at levels similar to what they have already experienced in Q1.


Positive effects of COVID-19 on business

Over 80% of respondents could not see any positive effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on business. However, in the experiential travel sectors of education, volunteer and camp programmes, some businesses do see the potential for positive effects. This perhaps relates to an anticipated shift in demand from international to domestic markets. However, with governments now moving to limit or lock down even domestic travel, optimism in markets closer to home might become less or even more localised.

Interested in more on COVID-19 and youth travel?
WYSE Travel Confederation will be publishing more findings from its COVID-19 Business impact survey in the coming weeks. If your business would benefit from regional, sector and programme-specific analyses, consider joining the global community of youth travel specialists for free access to our research publications.

To read the March 2020 survey analyses, please use the below links:
Youth travel anticipating 30% decrease in business for 2020
Looking back in order to see ahead

[1]Data for this report were collected between March 3 – 9, 2020 by WYSE Travel Confederation, the global association for youth, student and educational travel organisations, via web-based questionnaire (in English) titled Business impact survey – COVID-19.The survey attracted 599 responses from 73 countries. Four-hundred and twenty-one responses were retained for analysis. Respondents included organisations specialised in youth travel products as well as those representing mainstream travel products. All respondents were asked about the impact that the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak has had on their core business in travel. Specific questions related to the change in business demand experienced in Q1 2020 vs the same period in 2019, the business outlook for the coming calendar year, top concerns for the immediate and long term, actions taken in response to COVID-19, and the impact of COVID-19 on group business.

[2]The United States government announced travel restrictions (effective 14 March 2020) and temporary pause of certain international exchange programmes (12 March 2020).