Tourism dependent areas like the Caribbean should increase their outreach to the ‘huge potential’ of the little-known youth travel market, urged a development expert.
Speaking to reporters on the eve of the World Youth and Student Travel Conference, Lelei LeLaulu, co-chairman of the Innovation for Sustainable Development Center, said, ‘This market is worth an estimated US$136 billion a year or around 18 per cent of worldwide international tourism receipts.
‘Furthermore, the youth market was the most resilient travel market during the recession, with no major company collapses,’ asserted Mr. LeLaulu, who is also a director of the Caribbean Media Exchange.
Tapping into this market, as well as integrating young people into the tourism development process, was critical, he added.
‘The youth and student traveller today is your repeat visitor of tomorrow,” he said.
Mr. LeLaulu, a featured speaker at the World Youth and Student Travel Conference in Manchester this week, as well as the 18th Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism in Saint Lucia in December, says that youth tourism represents the fastest growing sector of the travel industry.
‘Contrary to popular opinion, young travellers stay longer and they spend their money with locally-owned businesses and communities which reduces tourism leakages,” said LeLaulu, who added that the lion’s share of young travellers shape their world view along their travels contributing to peace and international understanding.