Addressing attendees of the 26th annual World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) on World Tourism Day, Ms. Eunji Tae, Coordinator, Knowledge Network of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), emphasised the ‘right time, right plan’ and called on youth tourism professionals to demand and deliver sustainable tourism for development. “From today forward,” she said, “we must talk less about growth and more about sustainable growth, as demanded by our own markets and by all stakeholders in world tourism.”

Youth tourism is currently at the centre of the international tourism agenda – a significant contributor to global tourism and no longer a niche. Ms. Tae reiterated that UNWTO recognises that youth tourists stay longer, travel further, and spend less of their total time in gateway or main city destinations than mainstream tourists do, making them very important actors for international sustainable development. Furthermore, youth travellers, more than 270 million of them each year, stimulate local tourism business opportunities and enterprise.

However, with the number of youth travellers expected to become 320 million annually by 2020, Ms. Tae asked travel professionals to consider if global tourism, having overall reached a milestone of one billion tourists, was sustainable at such levels, as ‘growth for growth’s sake is no longer acceptable.’
Given the economic, social, environmental, cultural and peace pillars of sustainable development, is there more youth tourism operators can do on a local level to sustain these equally? The UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics outlines responsibilities for tourism stakeholders in the development of sustainable tourism, and provides an international framework of recommendations on ethical and sustainable modus operandi, including the right to tourism, the freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals. The Convention was signed recently by all members of the UNWTO General Assembly, including all 156 government agencies for tourism.
When asked about the relationship between UNWTO and WYSE Travel Confederation, Ms. Tae said that it was an important one as WYSE Travel Confederation was strategically positioned to align UNWTO objectives with private sector strategies and noted that WYSE Travel Confederation had recently been voted onto the board of the Affiliate Members Programme.
Ms. Tae also gave this relationship some context by saying that when one realises that the relationship WYSE Travel Confederation has with UNWTO for tourism is on the same level as Google has for technology, it gives youth tourism organisations an understanding of the league they are now playing in by being members of WYSE Travel Confederation.
WYSE Travel Confederation would like to thank Eunji Tae for taking time to address delegates of the 2017 World Youth and Student Travel Conference and challenging them to step up to the challenge of tourism for sustainable development.