This week, we interview David Chapman, Director General of the World Youth Student Exchange (WYSE) Travel Confederation, on the eve of the WYSTC 2015 conference in Cape Town, South Africa.

What should we expect from this year’s World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC)? Are there any new events/topics in store?

This year a panel of students will be present to discuss the needs and wants of the student traveller. We believe this is an important complementary element to the research that WYSE does all year long to help inform travel professionals of the changing trends.

Are there any particular issues that you think will be particularly topical or lively at this year’s event?

Political issues regarding open borders are all around us in the news at the moment - from Donald Trump threatening to end the J-1 visa in the US to a refugee crisis in Europe. A panel discussion on visa policy is poised to touch on some of these issues and how the travel industry can advocate for mobility that enhances cultural exchange and educational travel for young people.

You are running the hosted buyer programme for agents again this year. How has that been received over the past couple of years? Are you looking to get more agents involved in WYSTC?

With WYSTC taking place next week in Cape Town, the event is set to welcome over 100 leading buyers, whereof 60 will be hosted.  The Hosted Buyer Programme is a unique component of WYSTC which is designed to provide top-level buyers the opportunity to connect and trade with leading youth, student and educational travel product and experiences from all over the world.

Following a strategic airline partnership that was secured with Emirates Airline in 2014, the hosted buyer programme has progressed in leaps and bounds,  now facilitating  a fully hosted  package to approved buyers including return complimentary flights, accommodation, event registration and post famils.   

WYSE Travel Confederation is confident the hosted buyer programme will continue to grow and attract increased participation in September 2016, when the event will be held in Europe.

What do you think Cape Town/South Africa will gain from hosting the event?

South Africa stands to gain valuable global exposure as a youth-friendly educational travel destination from hosting the World Youth and Student Travel Conference. Youth and student travel market represents at least 20 per cent of international arrivals annually and in 2014 this translated to 227 million youth travellers globally, spending nearly US$250 billion. It is not a segment of travellers to overlook.

South Africa is a top favourite of young travellers who’ve had the chance to visit. WYSE research has indicated that while cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg rank high on young travellers’ “I’d like to visit” lists, converting the desire to visit to an actual visit is a challenge for South Africa. Furthermore, a quarter of youth travellers that visited South Africa reported facing visa issues. We hope that as hosts to WYSTC, South Africa will take a closer look at what it can do to enable growth of youth and student travel in the country.  



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