WYSTC 2018 Welcome Keynote
Addressing delegates at the official opening of this year’s World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in Edinburgh, David Chapman, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation, started proceedings by reiterating what stands at the heart of the organisation – a strong voice for a diverse, but united community of professionals.
“As an industry association, WYSE Travel Confederation relies on the support of members and those of you who are members know that there is strength in numbers and value in a united community of trusted professionals. We are a diverse community that is unified by an interest in serving youth and student travellers with unique and tailored products and experiences,” he said.
Attention was given to a new type of traveller, the digital nomad, and the need for the industry to make progress on sustainable travel initiatives that win the support of young travellers.
“Supporting sustainable travel initiatives, services and products is not a travel priority for young travellers. It is for some, but not for all and we really do need to move this forward,” he said.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for the Culture, Tourism and External Affairs of Scotland, and Helen Marano, Executive Vice President of External Affairs of the World Travel & Tourism Council, also addressed WYSTC 2018 delegates.
Ms Hyslop provided delegates with a perspective on youth tourism in Scotland. In painting the Scottish youth tourism landscape, Fiona explained that with growth in youth visitor numbers and more than 50,00 international students, Scotland must have an international outlook. She stated that the resilience of the sector depends on the quality of Scotland’s reputation to provide authentic experiences and incorporate inclusive sustainable growth. She explained that core to this is providing travellers with valuable people experiences.
“The youth travel industry provides such a diverse range of unique travelling experiences; from backpacking, to language learning, and work experiences. It is those vital cultural exchanges that makes such a positive impact on the lives of so many young people. In the world as it is today, it is so important for people to understand each other,” she declared.
With Scotland this year celebrating its Year of Young People, Fiona stressed the value and importance to consult, co-design and co-decide with young people in everything.
“Scotland is the first country in the world who has dedicated a whole year to celebrate young people; making sure that young people are part of Scotland’s story and importantly the power of young people today in influencing decisions,” she stated.
Keynote speaker Helen Marano, Executive Vice President of External Affairs, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) presented her take on the current state of play of the global travel and tourism industry, explaining several initiatives that the WTTC is leading, including efforts to improve and protect the sustainability of the sector and the critical issue of responsible growth for global tourism.
Helen identified three top challenges the industry must begin to tackle: security and travel facilitation, crisis preparedness, management and recovery, and sustainable growth. She insisted that measuring is critical to diagnosing and understanding of the issues around overloaded tourist destinations, alienation of local residents, degraded tourist experiences and threats to cultural heritage. Our sector’s role in enhancing the propensity for young travellers to embrace and expand responsible travel worldwide, was emphasised.
Ms Marano noted that 2017 was the seventh consecutive year that travel and tourism had outpaced the global economy. By forming a strategic alliance, WYSE Travel Confederation and WTTC can work to encourage and collaborate in a harmonious direction.
“It is time to change the bucket list to un-discovered pearls, to raise awareness, and make the world carbon neutral, to stand up and take responsibility, to help abolish practices of human trafficking and illegal wildlife trade. No matter how big or small, you are part of a sector that has a lot of good to contribute to the world.”
WYSTC 2018 delegates were asked to look at how the industry as a whole could support youth and understand what needs to be done on an individual basis.
“My message to you today is to work together to meet our common challenges. We all must inspire the young travellers that we serve to embrace responsible traveller behaviours. But more than that, we have to remember that you’re serving the bumblebees, we need to ensure that the honey of our earth and our heritage is heralded and preserved; that they pollinate. So be proud of this big picture that you are part of and the role that you play and continue to enjoy the fact that we are celebrating cross-cultural understanding of each other throughout the world.”