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Reflecting on a successful WYSTC 2014 Dublin where the power of youth travel shone through

08 October 2014
8 Oct 2014 -
Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the 23rd World Youth and Student Travel Conference – WYSTC 2014 – held at the Convention Centre Dublin last month.

Over the course of four days we welcomed over 650 delegates from more than 450 organisations and 120 countries operating across the global youth, student and travel industry.

This year, delegates had the opportunity to ‘mix it up’ by creating their own individual programmes. They could choose from over 30 stimulating workshops and seminars led by more than 40 leading figures in their fields, and up to 44 business appointments, topped off with daily networking events – depending on their objectives for WYSTC 2014.

Here’s some of the highlights from this year’s truly memorable event:

WYSTC Welcome reception

A taste of Dublin now

Our ‘A taste of Dublin now’ welcome reception on Tuesday, 23 September – sponsored by Dublin City Council and Visit Dublin – set the standard for the days ahead; delegates enjoyed the finest autumnal fayre and working together to create some recognisable drum beats during an interactive drumming workshop.

The power of youth travel

One of the key themes underpinning the leading annual event was the sheer power of youth travel. With its performance critical to the future trajectory of global travel, the message echoed by speakers was that tourism’s fastest-growing sector needs to be fully embraced.

As David Chapman, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation, opened the formal proceedings on Wednesday, 24 September, he reminded delegates that the socio-economic benefits for the young traveller are just as important to consider, a point that was reiterated by the UNWTO’s Carlos Vogeler who joined him on stage.

WOR_9555-3560487265-OMr Vogeler said: “Never before have so many people travelled to so many places to explore and engage. The focus for these globally-oriented citizens is to get to know the true culture and the people who make a destination what it is.”

Before our keynote speaker took to the stage, Paschal Donohoe TD – the Republic of Ireland’s Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport – stressed how instrumental overseas experiences can be in shaping future societies and why Ireland is looking to support the youth travel sector as a destination.

Skyscanner’s Filip Filipov then presented his keynote session on the future of travel and encouraged attendees to consider how new technologies and artificial intelligence will come together to change travel experiences over the next decade.

Read a summary of the keynote session >>

A warm welcome from South Africa

WOR_0345-3562785278-OWednesday drew to a close with our networking reception in the beautiful surroundings of the dining hall at Trinity College Dublin, where Ms Tokozile Xasa, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Tourism, gave a passionate and motivating speech ahead of WYSTC’s arrival in Cape Town, South Africa next year.

The Airbnb debate

As the global association representing the whole youth travel accommodation industry, we saw WYSTC as a prime the opportunity to open the debate around the Airbnb concept, which has captured the world’s imagination since bursting onto the hospitality scene in 2007.

We therefore invited Clement Marcelet, Airbnb’s Hospitality Innovator along, who explained how, with over a thousand new hosts joining the Airbnb community every day across 190 countries and 150,000 guests every night, it nurtures this community of individuals.

WYS_8449-3563955598-ORead a summary of the session >>

WYSTC Travel Massive

On Thursday evening, WYSTC teamed up with Travel Massive – the biggest travel industry meet up around the world – to bring WYSTC 2014 delegates together with members of the local travel community for an evening of networking at Dublin’s Dandelion Club.

DAS Robin Lerner and the J-1 visa programme

The last day of proceedings saw Robin Lerner, principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US State Department present her annual WYSTC update on the J-1 visa programme, alongside other sessions including Get to grips with mobile, presented by EyeforTravel’s Gina Baillie.

Closing keynote


Sir Ranulph Fiennes, dubbed the world’s greatest living explorer by the Guinness Book of Records, brought WYSTC 2014 to a close with his keynote session: A life of adventure.

The icon for adventure travel entertained the audience with his inspiring tales and insight into team optimisation gleaned from over four decades of being at the forefront of record-breaking expeditions.

Read more about Sir Ranulph’s session >>

Global Youth Travel Awards 2014

WYSTC 2014 was brought to a glittering close with our Global Youth Travel Awards 2014 ceremony – sponsored by Else Globe.

WYS_8695-3568576294-OIndustry professionals gathered at The Mansion House in the heart of Dublin for the ceremony, which is now in its fourth year.

We crowned 12 new winners – including Projects Abroad, STA Travel and Emirates before the  evening concluded with an impressive table-top Irish dancing display.

Read the full story >>

After party

No WYSTC is complete without a legendary after party, where delegates, staff and speakers alike can let their hair down and celebrate after a busy week’s trading and networking.

This year, Generator’s Dublin hostel played host and guests were treated to cocktails, craft beers, live music and DJs. The party went on late into the night and provided a fitting farewell to a successful week for the youth, student and educational travel industry.

A personal thank you from David Chapman

David Chapman, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation, said: “Thank you to everyone who played a part in this year’s event – including our delegates, sponsors, speakers and the city of Dublin.

As the only global event dedicated to the youth travel industry’s development, WYSTC’s success lies in its ability to encourage an entire industry to come together under one roof and to provide the latest information and insight to support travellers and help drive the industry forward.

“The gathering of delegates from all corners of the globe serves as a reminder of the immense opportunities the flourishing youth market offers to the travel industry and visitor economies worldwide”.

We look forward to welcoming you to Cape Town, South Africa from 22 – 25 September next year.


View our photo gallery here >>


If you’re operating in the work and volunteer abroad or au pair sectors, you may also be interested in attending our Work Experience Travel Market and IAPA Annual Conference – WETM-IAC 2015 – in Lisbon next March. Click here for more information.