chapter  3
8 Pages

Youth tourism

Finally coming of age?
WithG. Richards, J. Wilson

Various additional growth factors have emerged more recently that perhaps were not foreseen at that time, such as the rise of budget/low cost airlines, more flexible employment modes, and the growth of the student travel industry. All of these factors have almost certainly contributed to the growth since the mid-1990s, giving an added impulse to youth and student travel worldwide, and also stimulating more research interest in this field. More recently, a lot of attention has been focused on the growth of ‘backpacker’

tourism, including the ‘gap year’ (e.g. Simpson, 2003) and Big Overseas Experience, or ‘OE’ phenomena (e.g. Bell, 2002) and this has spawned a number of surveys at national level, particularly in Australia and New Zealand (e.g. Bureau of Tourism Research, 2000). There are a growing number of academic studies on backpackers as well, which tend to emphasize the position of backpackers as ‘anti-tourists’ or nomadic propagators of global youth culture (Richards and Wilson, 2004a). Desforges (1998), for example, looked at global representations and local identities in youth travel, signalling a developing interest in youth and student mobility as a global postmodern phenomenon. However, more traditional youth markets have also grown, such as ‘four s’

tourism in beach-oriented destinations (Clarke, 1992); a growth which was

acknowledged in claims that a third of youth holidays were beach-oriented (ATI, 1995). But the youth and student market is clearly also diversifying away from traditional beach-oriented experiences; for example, a study by Sellars (1998) observed a growth in young people taking holidays to pursue their interest in alternative and dance music subcultures, emphasizing the importance of niches within the overall youth market. This chapter considers one such important segment: student travel.