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Looking to the future: An update from the WYSE Board

“Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when we want to wish our friends, family and colleagues a happy Christmas or festive season and also reflect on the year past.

2020 is not one of those years that deserves too much reflection as each and every one of us knows too well.

So, with the imminent arrival of Christmas and the New Year period, when most of the world has some form of a break, we look forward to 2021 and the opportunities it presents. It is easy to be worried considering what we have been through, but I feel that there are good reasons for optimism. Travelling, in all its formats, has been integral to human existence for time immemorial. From the early nomads to modern day, humans have travelled the earth to seek out food or commerce, to explore new countries and to experience new cultures. Sure, we have had a major setback, but humanity will start to travel again very soon.

The whole question of sustainability has really come to the fore this year too, driven by a clarity that also occurred in the skies. Not only do we need to be able to get people travelling again to provide that economic support to destinations, but we need to find ways of travel that don’t cause unsustainable pollution and damage. That is the challenge for this decade and beyond and we need to press our governments to take the right decisions and not the easy ones.

As 2020 draws to a welcome close and the bright light of 2021 starts to shine, I’d like to wish all our friends and colleagues of WYSE Travel Confederation and of the tourism industry as a whole, a lovely Christmas and festive season and much luck and happiness in the new year.”

David Chapman, Director General, WYSE Travel Confederation

“Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when we want to wish our friends, family and colleagues a happy Christmas or festive season and also reflect on the year past.

2020 is not one of those years that deserves too much reflection as each and every one of us knows too well.

So, with the imminent arrival of Christmas and the New Year period, when most of the world has some form of a break, we look forward to 2021 and the opportunities it presents. It is easy to be worried considering what we have been through, but I feel that there are good reasons for optimism. Travelling, in all its formats, has been integral to human existence for time immemorial. From the early nomads to modern day, humans have travelled the earth to seek out food or commerce, to explore new countries and to experience new cultures. Sure, we have had a major setback, but humanity will start to travel again very soon.

The whole question of sustainability has really come to the fore this year too, driven by a clarity that also occurred in the skies. Not only do we need to be able to get people travelling again to provide that economic support to destinations, but we need to find ways of travel that don’t cause unsustainable pollution and damage. That is the challenge for this decade and beyond and we need to press our governments to take the right decisions and not the easy ones.

As 2020 draws to a welcome close and the bright light of 2021 starts to shine, I’d like to wish all our friends and colleagues of WYSE Travel Confederation and of the tourism industry as a whole, a lovely Christmas and festive season and much luck and happiness in the new year.”

David Chapman, Director General, WYSE Travel Confederation

“The holidays are a time to celebrate what links us. While 2020 was a challenging year for travel and cultural exchange, we can all find hope in its lessons.

  • We are in this together. Our community is purpose-driven. When we stand together, we are stronger and an example for others.
  • We are resilient. The experience of travel teaches us to deal with challenges as they arise. Never has that been so valuable. We need to pass it forward.
  • The world needs what we offer. The pandemic has confirmed a basic human need – connection. As COVID recedes, sharing and exchange will emerge as a global imperative for a noisy, divisive world. It will be our time.
    Best wishes for a relaxing holiday season, and a New Year filled with promise and opportunity.

See you at WYSTC 2021 in Lisbon!”

Russ Hedge, Management Board Chair

“The holidays are a time to celebrate what links us. While 2020 was a challenging year for travel and cultural exchange, we can all find hope in its lessons.

  • We are in this together. Our community is purpose-driven. When we stand together, we are stronger and an example for others.
  • We are resilient. The experience of travel teaches us to deal with challenges as they arise. Never has that been so valuable. We need to pass it forward.
  • The world needs what we offer. The pandemic has confirmed a basic human need – connection. As COVID recedes, sharing and exchange will emerge as a global imperative for a noisy, divisive world. It will be our time.
    Best wishes for a relaxing holiday season, and a New Year filled with promise and opportunity.

See you at WYSTC 2021 in Lisbon!”

Russ Hedge, Management Board Chair

“The team at WYSE Travel Confederation, the Management Board, and respective industry panels continue to actively monitor the effects of COVID-19 around the world. While it has been an extremely challenging 10 months for our industry, as well as for many of us personally, I do believe that there is a hope on the horizon. The first COVID-19 vaccines are available and have just begun to be administered to the highest risk populations, we have a new US president elect, Brexit is coming – all major changes that will have an impact on our world, as well as our industry. 

While it will take some time to get back to the volume we were at pre-COVID-19, the desire to travel and experience cultural exchange is still very much at the forefront of many people’s minds. By continuing to work together as a collective WYSE community, our chances will only increase in overcoming the current challenges and reemerging as an even stronger industry. We all need to collectively spread the message of the importance of youth and student travel.

Last and most importantly, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays filled with much love, happiness, and health. I thank you for your continued partnership through these challenging times and look forward to a successful 2021!”

Carye Duffin, Cultural Exchange Panel Chair

“The team at WYSE Travel Confederation, the Management Board, and respective industry panels continue to actively monitor the effects of COVID-19 around the world. While it has been an extremely challenging 10 months for our industry, as well as for many of us personally, I do believe that there is a hope on the horizon. The first COVID-19 vaccines are available and have just begun to be administered to the highest risk populations, we have a new US president elect, Brexit is coming – all major changes that will have an impact on our world, as well as our industry. 

While it will take some time to get back to the volume we were at pre-COVID-19, the desire to travel and experience cultural exchange is still very much at the forefront of many people’s minds.  By continuing to work together as a collective WYSE community, our chances will only increase in overcoming the current challenges and reemerging as an even stronger industry.  We all need to collectively spread the message of the importance of youth and student travel.

Last and most importantly, I wanted to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones Happy Holidays filled with much love, happiness, and health.  I thank you for your continued partnership through these challenging times and look forward to a successful 2021!”

Carye Duffin, Cultural Exchange Panel Chair

“2020 has been a year like none other for travel.

Among the hardest hit following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic was the travel and hospitality sectors. Closed borders, lockdowns and the fear of catching the highly contagious virus brought travel across the world to a halt.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s latest impact figures show a 70% fall in international tourist arrivals in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, as continuing travel restrictions close borders around the world. That this drop has not been more precipitous, is only because of the summer relaxation of the harshest measures, notably in Europe, but this alas proved a false dawn as travel restrictions and advisories were reintroduced amid a spike in contagions.  

All told, this year has seen 700 million fewer international arrivals equating to some US$730 billion in lost tourism revenues. As the UNWTO points out, this is more than eight times the industry’s losses at the height of the 2009 economic crisis.  

It’s too early to say exactly how travel will be affected in 2021, even if the broad outline of a recovery is starting to be seen. Countries may not feel comfortable opening their borders to holiday makers until a vaccine is rolled out. However, if travel won’t return to normal until a majority of people have been vaccinated, industry analysts are pointing to 2022 as the first ‘normal’ year.

But, there are signs of the green shoots of recovery. Travel management firms are reporting record inquiries about best practices, safety policy and hygiene.

Traditional hotel stays may be down, but Airbnb and vacation homes, where people can control their environment, are showing signs of resilience.  Unsurprisingly, people are opting for rural and beach settings for obvious reasons.

And air travel is forecast to rebound strongly in the second half of 2021, though not for long haul trips. Instead, people are likely to make smaller, local trips before venturing farther afield. While international and cross-border travel has slowed to a trickle, domestic travel has held up well.

Despite this, the industry has already been quick to adapt. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported 637 million domestic trips (about 80% of 2019 volumes) during October’s Golden Week holiday. Russian domestic air bookings not only fully recovered to their 2019 levels but in August actually rose 9%. All in all, I think it’s going to be a slow build-up in 2021, and 2022 could be an actual boom year for travel as people across the world reignite their passion for travel and adventure.

It will be up to us as providers to emphasize the benefits that travel experiences can bring if our industry is to restart tourism in a safe, timely and coordinated manner. Collectively, we need to act in solidarity and through membership, to demonstrate the importance of youth and student travel.

On behalf of all of us at World Nomads, we wish you success & hope for the New Year.”

Nick Pound, Travel Safety Panel Chair

 

“2020 has been a year like none other for travel.  

Among the hardest hit following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic was the travel and hospitality sectors. Closed borders, lockdowns and the fear of catching the highly contagious virus brought travel across the world to a halt.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)’s latest impact figures show a 70% fall in international tourist arrivals in the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period last year, as continuing travel restrictions close borders around the world. That this drop has not been more precipitous, is only because of the summer relaxation of the harshest measures, notably in Europe, but this alas proved a false dawn as travel restrictions and advisories were reintroduced amid a spike in contagions.  

All told, this year has seen 700 million fewer international arrivals equating to some US$730 billion in lost tourism revenues. As the UNWTO points out, this is more than eight times the industry’s losses at the height of the 2009 economic crisis.  

It’s too early to say exactly how travel will be affected in 2021, even if the broad outline of a recovery is starting to be seen. Countries may not feel comfortable opening their borders to holiday makers until a vaccine is rolled out. However, if travel won’t return to normal until a majority of people have been vaccinated, industry analysts are pointing to 2022 as the first ‘normal’ year.

But, there are signs of the green shoots of recovery. Travel management firms are reporting record inquiries about best practices, safety policy and hygiene.

Traditional hotel stays may be down, but Airbnb and vacation homes, where people can control their environment, are showing signs of resilience.  Unsurprisingly, people are opting for rural and beach settings for obvious reasons.

And air travel is forecast to rebound strongly in the second half of 2021, though not for long haul trips. Instead, people are likely to make smaller, local trips before venturing farther afield. While international and cross-border travel has slowed to a trickle, domestic travel has held up well.

Despite this, the industry has already been quick to adapt. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism reported 637 million domestic trips (about 80% of 2019 volumes) during October’s Golden Week holiday. Russian domestic air bookings not only fully recovered to their 2019 levels but in August actually rose 9%. All in all, I think it’s going to be a slow build-up in 2021, and 2022 could be an actual boom year for travel as people across the world reignite their passion for travel and adventure.

It will be up to us as providers to emphasize the benefits that travel experiences can bring if our industry is to restart tourism in a safe, timely and coordinated manner. Collectively, we need to act in solidarity and through membership, to demonstrate the importance of youth and student travel.

On behalf of all of us at World Nomads, we wish you success & hope for the New Year.”

Nick Pound, Travel Safety Panel Chair

 

“Most of us had high hopes for 2020 for our sector; unfortunately it became a year that we never could have imagined. The COVID-19 crisis is the toughest battle that our sector has ever faced, with numerous small and large businesses fighting for their existence. I am deeply sad for the many members that have been affected, both on a personal and business level.

In the middle of this dark year, however, it has been encouraging to see the fighting spirit and perseverance that is prevailing across our industry. Many companies have fought hard to change their business model, develop online courses and secure the funds necessary to survive until things get better. Most of us are looking forward to a new year and to put 2020 behind us. As we are looking towards the future we are finally seeing the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first vaccines have been given in the UK and many more countries are ready to follow. When we reach the summer of 2021, we should be able to continue with our lives in a more normal fashion. I am convinced that when that happens the demand for student and youth travel will be even stronger than before, as so many young people have been forced to stay home for so long.

To be able to truly influence the way our industry is being reshaped and rebuilt, it is more important than ever to be members of WYSE Travel Confederation and engage with all the work and discussion that is happening there.

All the best for the holiday season and to a better new year!”

John Cedergårdh, Study Abroad Panel Chair

“Most of us had high hopes for 2020 for our sector; unfortunately it became a year that we never could have imagined. The COVID-19 crisis is the toughest battle that our sector has ever faced, with numerous small and large businesses fighting for their existence. I am deeply sad for the many members that have been affected, both on a personal and business level.

In the middle of this dark year, however, it has been encouraging to see the fighting spirit and perseverance that is prevailing across our industry. Many companies have fought hard to change their business model, develop online courses and secure the funds necessary to survive until things get better. Most of us are looking forward to a new year and to put 2020 behind us. As we are looking towards the future we are finally seeing the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first vaccines have been given in the UK and many more countries are ready to follow. When we reach the summer of 2021, we should be able to continue with our lives in a more normal fashion. I am convinced that when that happens the demand for student and youth travel will be even stronger than before, as so many young people have been forced to stay home for so long.

To be able to truly influence the way our industry is being reshaped and rebuilt, it is more important than ever to be members of WYSE Travel Confederation and engage with all the work and discussion that is happening there.

All the best for the holiday season and to a better new year!”

John Cedergårdh, Study Abroad Panel Chair

“It seems ages ago that we gathered at STAY WYSE Amsterdam last January. I cherish the memories of us all being together, the great networking receptions and us chatting, hugging, laughing, and dancing…

Who would have predicted that the year would take such an unexpected turn? With travel almost at a complete standstill, the whole sector came to a halt. Sadly, the journey ended for some of our industry partners but an incredible number persevered. The youth travel accommodation sector has shown enormous flexibility, endurance and resilience. Many properties proved to have resourceful managers and motivated staff, able to pivot their business plans and adapt their operations to meet the required health and safety standards. Whether it has been with or without the help of governments and landlords, our great staff, and so many volunteers, we are still standing. Together we can achieve so much more, and this is exactly why it is so important to me to be part of WYSE Travel Confederation and the hostel community.

Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, and therefore I want to highlight the many positive and heartwarming events that took place in our sector. I have seen so many wonderful examples of commitment to society: free meals were offered to stranded students, hostels in lockdown areas offered essential workers to stay, and employees on furlough offered to do maintenance work when doors were closed. Kim Whitaker started Ubuntubeds, an initiative to connect hospitality businesses and offer stays to frontline medical and health care workers in South Africa. a&o Hostels has employed ‘social distancing specialists’ to enhance guest experience during the pandemic and Clink Hostels is offering 1,000 free bed nights to travellers volunteering on key social causes.

The show must go on and in 2021 we will prepare for the recovery. I am sure the business will pick up and come back. And this crisis will also provide us with the opportunity to change our business models to be more sustainable and future proof.

It will take a while, but the time will come when can we shake hands again. In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to me or the other panellists as we are here to support you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas.”

Pieter van der Zeeuw, Accommodation Panel Chair

“It seems ages ago that we gathered at STAY WYSE Amsterdam last January. I cherish the memories of us all being together, the great networking receptions and us chatting, hugging, laughing, and dancing…

Who would have predicted that the year would take such an unexpected turn? With travel almost at a complete standstill, the whole sector came to a halt. Sadly, the journey ended for some of our industry partners but an incredible number persevered. The youth travel accommodation sector has shown enormous flexibility, endurance and resilience. Many properties proved to have resourceful managers and motivated staff, able to pivot their business plans and adapt their operations to meet the required health and safety standards. Whether it has been with or without the help of governments and landlords, our great staff, and so many volunteers, we are still standing. Together we can achieve so much more, and this is exactly why it is so important to me to be part of WYSE Travel Confederation and the hostel community.

Christmas is a time for joy and celebration, and therefore I want to highlight the many positive and heartwarming events that took place in our sector. I have seen so many wonderful examples of commitment to society: free meals were offered to stranded students, hostels in lockdown areas offered essential workers to stay, and employees on furlough offered to do maintenance work when doors were closed. Kim Whitaker started Ubuntubeds, an initiative to connect hospitality businesses and offer stays to frontline medical and health care workers in South Africa. a&o Hostels has employed ‘social distancing specialists’ to enhance guest experience during the pandemic and Clink Hostels is offering 1,000 free bed nights to travellers volunteering on key social causes.

The show must go on and in 2021 we will prepare for the recovery. I am sure the business will pick up and come back. And this crisis will also provide us with the opportunity to change our business models to be more sustainable and future proof.

It will take a while, but the time will come when can we shake hands again. In the meantime, do not hesitate to reach out to me or the other panellists as we are here to support you.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas.”

Pieter van der Zeeuw, Accommodation Panel Chair