Don’t overlook the long-term value of younger travellers, WTM panel says

Don’t overlook the long-term value of younger travellers, WTM panel says

Countries must see younger travellers as an investment despite new obstacles to growing this market sector, experts have urged.


A WTM London audience heard how younger travellers were the first to return after Covid and collectively had the most disposable income.


Sally Cope, Tourism Australia’s regional general manager, UK & Northern Europe, said Australia had long seen the value of younger travellers, backpackers and those taking a working holiday: “It gives people their first taste of travel, it’s an investment.”


She said pre-Covid, 250,000 jobs were filled in Australia under the working visa scheme and that only 40,000 of these workers had remained when borders closed. “Our industry noticed that.” 


Long-stay visitor spend often exceeded that of luxury travellers, she said, with the average at around AUS $10,000. Recognising this, Australia has extended its working visa scheme to those aged up to 35 and for three years. The requirement to do farm work in the second year has been removed.


“That opens up a whole new audience of digital nomads and those with a mid-career gap.”


Steve Lowy, chair of the British Educational Travel Association (BETA), said there were other benefits to communities from youth travel. More than other types, youths ended to stay in more suburban locations and buy locally, spreading the benefits, he said. 


There were more spin-offs: “I have 1,000 students in London. I would say 40% of their parents have come and visited them. There is no marketing needed.”


Andrew Brown, the World Travel & Tourism Council’s New Zealand-born director of commercial and membership, said his country’s attitude to backpackers was not as positive as Australia’s. “They are seen as low value travellers, but they are not, because they spread awareness.” This meant parents often visited after their children had shown them what there was to see.


The panel advised countries to offer ‘landing packages’ which sorted out initial accommodation, banking and safety worries for young visitors. This was an issue now parents were in constant touch on social media. “Smooth that out and you will go for gold,” said Brown.


He praised Portugal’s traveller employment scheme. “Portugal looked at the gap in the market that they didn’t have yet.” He added Canada was also proactive, with 35 job schemes for overseas youth, while the UK had six.




Photography from WTM shows is available to download via the following link:


World Travel Market (WTM) Portfolio comprises leading travel events, online portals and virtual platforms across four continents. The events are:


WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. The show facilitates business connections for the global (leisure) travel community. Senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating travel industry contracts. 

Next live event: Monday 7 to 9 November 2022 at ExCel London and 6-8 November 2023 at ExCel London.


Arabian Travel Market (ATM), now on its 30th year, is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2022 attracted over 23,000 visitors and hosted over 30,000 participants including 1,500 exhibitors and attendees from 150 countries, across 10 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre. Arabian Travel Market is part of Arabian Travel Week. #ATMDubai

Next in-person event: Monday 1 to Thursday 4 May 2023, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai     


Arabian Travel Week is a festival of events taking place within and alongside Arabian Travel Market 2023. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector, it includes ILTM Arabia, ARIVAL Dubai, Influencers’ events and activations, ITIC, GBTA Business Travel Forums, as well as ATM Travel Tech. It also features the ATM Buyer Forums, ATM Speed Networking Events as well as a series of country forums.      


WTM Latin America takes place annually in the city of São Paulo and attracts around 20,000 tourism professionals during the three-day event. The event offers qualified content together with networking and business opportunities. In this its ninth edition – there have been eight face-to-face events along with a 100% virtual one, which was held in 2021 – WTM Latin America continued to focus on effective business generation, and achieved the advance booking of six thousand meetings that were held between buyers, travel agents and exhibitors in 2022.

Next event: Monday April 3rd to Wednesday 5th April 2023 – Expo Center Norte, SP, Brazil


WTM Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa.  In 2022, WTM Africa facilitated more than 7 thousand unique pre-scheduled appointments, an increase of more than 7% compared to 2019 and welcomed more than 6 thousand visitors (unaudited), the same number as in 2019.

Next event: Monday 3 to Wednesday 5 April 2023 – Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town


About ATW Connect:  Africa Travel Week’s digital arm, is a virtual hub packed to the seams with interesting content, industry news and insights, and the opportunity to hear from experts on a variety of topics in our new monthly webinar series. All with the aim to keep all of us in the travel and tourism industry connected. ATW Connect focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology.


WTM Global Hub, is the new WTM Portfolio online portal created to connect and support travel industry professionals around the world. The resource hub offers the latest guidance and knowledge to help exhibitors, buyers and others in the travel industry face the challenges of the global coronavirus pandemic. WTM Portfolio is tapping into its global network of experts to create content for the hub.


About RX (Reed Exhibitions)

RX is in the business of building businesses for individuals, communities and organisations. We elevate the power of face to face events by combining data and digital products to help customers learn about markets, source products and complete transactions at over 400 events in 22 countries across 43 industry sectors. RX is passionate about making a positive impact on society and is fully committed to creating an inclusive work environment for all our people. RX is part of RELX, a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers.



RELX is a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. The Group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs over 33,000 people, of whom almost half are in North America. The shares of RELX PLC, the parent company, are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX. The market capitalisation is approximately £33bn, €39bn, $47bn.*

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