Demand for study rising among young travellers

October 16, 2013

More young people are travelling for the purposes of language learning and other study, according to a survey released by the World Youth and Student & Educational Travel Confederation (WYSE TC).

WYSE TC Secretary General, David Chapman, at the recent WYSTC 2013 conference in Sydney, Australia

In New Horizons III A global study of the youth and student traveller, the survey on youth travel trends conducted every five years by WYSE TC, 22 per cent of the 34,000 respondents cited language learning as the main purpose of the trip overseas in 2012, an increase over the 2007 survey.

There was also an increased share of young people travelling for work experience (15 per cent) and other study (15 per cent). Holiday was the main purpose of trips on 47 per cent, although significantly down from over three-quarters in 2007.

David Chapman, WYSE Director General, said young travellers were trying to get more from their time abroad. “Our research shows that the nature of youth travel has changed enormously in the past decade. Young travellers today want, more than ever, to enrich themselves with cultural experiences, to meet local people and to improve their employability when they return home.”

North America was the most popular world region for language learning among respondents to the survey with 27 per cent, followed by Western Europe (22) and South America (20).

Other findings in the survey showed that the average length of the a main trip abroad was 58 days, an increase over 52 days in the previous survey, and the average total spend was just under €3,000, a 40 per cent increase over 2007. The average total spend on a language learning trip was just under €3,500. Meanwhile, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Sydney were cited as the three cities respondents were most likely to visit in the future.

In terms of information sources in planning a trip, it was clear that travellers were using a wider range of sources that in previous surveys, but almost 60 per cent used a travel agent (including study abroad agents) in their planning.

Online booking has increased according to the survey, with 58 per cent of agency bookings for language courses booked online, and similar ratios recorded for work abroad programmes and other study courses.

In the foreword to the report, Taleb Rifal, Secretary General of the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO), said, “Youth travel has become one of the fastest growing and dynamic segments of global tourism. The findings in the New Horizons III survey confirm this growth, signifying the increasing participation and contribution of the youth to global dialogue and development. Today, not only are more young people travelling, they are also taking advantage of the enriching experience that travel brings, from gaining new skills to learning more about themselves outside their comfort zone.”

The total of 34,000 participants, collected through emailed questionnaires, was a significant increase over the 8,500 responses received in the previous survey in 2007. Sixty-seven per cent of the respondents were female and half were in the 20-to-25 age group. The full report is available free for WYSE TC members and can be purchased by non-members.

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