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How emerging economies will influence the future of youth travel | WYSE Travel Confederation |
How emerging economies will influence the future of youth travel
WYSE News | June 13, 2024

Emerging and developing economies[1] represented 38% of international arrivals in 2000, but by 2019 they were contributing 47% of global tourism flows. This growth was halted by COVID-19, with emerging economies, particularly China, suffering disproportionately as a result of the pandemic. However, signs are that in the future, emerging economies will continue to contribute strongly to international tourism growth. As such, young travellers from countries with emerging markets stand to influence the future of youth travel policy, product and marketing.

This is an excerpt from WYSE Travel Confederation’s forthcoming publication, New Horizons 5: A global study of the youth and student traveller.

Youth travellers from advanced economies take more trips on average than those from emerging economies. Over the last five years, the average advanced economy respondent reported taking almost 11 international trips, compared with 7 trips for emerging economy respondents. However, there was no significant difference in the total spend of these groups, even though the distribution of spending differed. Those from emerging economies tended to spend more on in-destination activities and programme elements and other items, such as visas and insurance. Those from advanced economies spent more on transport and food & accommodation.

Youth travellers from emerging economy countries tended to take longer trips (50 days) than those from advanced economy countries (39 days), resulting in a lower spend per day. The daily spend from emerging market respondents was 59 euros a day, compared with 80 euros a day for those from countries with advanced economies.

Youth travellers from emerging economy countries were far more likely to need a visa (57%) than respondents from advanced economy countries (27%).

One of the ways that youth travellers from countries with emerging economies perhaps managed to reduce costs was to stay in smaller cities and towns rather than major cities.

The need for information appears to be greater for respondents from countries with emerging economies, who are probably making a greater relative investment in their travel.

Travel agents were much more important as a source of information for young travellers in emerging economy countries. This was also the case for travel bookings, with air travel much more likely to be booked at a physical travel agency in countries with emerging markets. The differences in levels of OTA bookings between emerging (27%) and advanced economies (30%) was much smaller.

Asia currently has more youth than any other world region, but the number of youth in Africa will increase by 42% by 2030. Some countries have large youth populations and rising incomes, such as India and Nigeria. Almost half of India outbound tourism is accounted for by travellers under age 35. Sixty percent of Nigeria’s population is aged under 25.

Emerging markets present opportunities and challenges for international youth travel policy, product development and marketing. Given the growing volume of young travellers from emerging economies and visa requirements, the accessibility and efficiency of visa applications and processing will be paramount. Family and friends are an important source of travel information for most young travellers, however, it appears they are even more important for young travellers from emerging markets. Travel agents also play a strong role in emerging markets. Considering how to reach these peripheral influencers of youth travellers on long stays will be important for brands and organisations focussed on youth travel.

Read more about the future of youth travel from WYSE Travel Confederation, the global network of youth, student and educational travel specialists.

[1] The categorisation of world economies is based on that used by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).