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How students are changing the travel industry with 'relational tourism'


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The student traveller is the pioneer of the shift from cultural tourism to 'relational' tourism, according to the 2017 study of youth travel by WYSE Travel Confederation.

Young people no longer just ‘visit’ places, but increasingly interact with the local community, relating and contributing towards it.

According to the report, because students use travel to “discover themselves whilst understanding others”, they are increasingly likely to seek out more authentic, local experiences.

This change is at the centre of relational tourism, with holiday-goers feeding into the surrounding community both socially and economically, often through volunteering.

More than 70% of millennials state that “travel is an important part of who I am as a person”, and over 80% say that they know the best way to learn about a place is to live like the locals do, according to the Millennial Travel 2016 AirBnB survey.

“It’s like making a temporary home within the culture they’ve chosen to experience,” according to a report by Student Universe, a travel booking site for students.

Sam Willan, Student Universe's marketing strategist, explains: “Students now look for an experience that can change them on the inside, forever. Something that they can learn from, and then go home and cherish.”

Sounds good to us - after all, if we're spending money and flying for hours we'll be expecting to take more from our holiday than a couple of beach snaps. 

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