I saw a story yesterday about Tourism Australia doing more marketing activity aimed at the Youth Market. I loved the quote that the Youth Market was “one of the best and quickest to turn on”. Hallelujah! It’s about time this so often unrecognised sector is being seen for what it is – an important and valuable supplier of inbound visitors and spend.
It isn’t surprising that the Aussies are out there showing the love to Youth. To be fair, they’ve long recognised the importance of backpackers and young travellers. Their Tourism Export Council has been a big supporter the industry – for goodness sake, they even run a Backpacker & Youth Tourism Conference . I remember 10-15 years ago in my days of business development for an International Student & Youth Travel retailer how amazed I was that the various jaunts up to the UK by Aussie suppliers was highly subsidised by ATEC (and therefore the Government). UK suppliers were envious and well they should be. UKTI has never taken this sector seriously.
The South Africans have made half-hearted attempts at wooing Youth but I firmly believe that it’s the industry and not the Tourist Board that drives that. The same can be said for the Kiwis. If the Tourist Board does any promotion , it’s because of the sheer tenacity of the industry pushing and prodding.
I can think of few other Tourist Boards that do anything of any significance in the Youth sector. There are little pockets of activity with the French and the Germans and perhaps the Thais. My home country, the US, doesn’t regard the sector in any way, shape or form (pity). The closest VisitBritain gets to promoting this great island I live in and love to the Youth Market on their website is a bit of a nod for ‘Study & Learn’ and ‘Budget Accommodation’. It is really disappointing but not surprising. Between the eternally dwindling marketing spend (thanks DCMS) and frankly a lack of interest in the sector, I wouldn’t expect it. Of course I would love to see more recognition of the value of the sector and I’ve spent a good many years keeping up the profile but I have no expectation this will change any time soon.
So let’s see if they a really meant it when Official Tourism Organisations from around the who world met at the last WYSTC said ‘Don’t underestimate youth and student travel,’
as they started planning for a unified strategy addressing the need of the global youth & student travel industry valued at US $136 billion per year! Tourist Boards please take note – Australia seem to be the only serious player around.