Youth Travel

Why Europe continues to be the number one destination for young travellers

Youth travellers (15-24 year-olds) are recognised as valuable visitors who seek novel and engaging experiences that go beyond leisure.

Juliet Stevens, Marketing Manager, World Youth Student and Educational (WYSE) Travel Confederation recently declared, “Youth travel is no longer a niche sector; it’s bigger than Facebook, bigger than McDonalds and bigger than the Argentinean budget. The global youth travel industry is now estimated to represent 200 million international trips a year, and the youth travel industry has grown faster than global travel overall. By 2020 the UNWTO estimates there will be almost 300 million international youth trips per year.”


European Cities Marketing (ECM), a network of leading Tourist Offices and Conventions Bureaux in Europe has added youth travel into its strategy, considering the opportunity this group present for the leisure and meetings industry.

In the framework of the ECM annual meeting in 2014, ECM and TCI Research produced a joint study on the youth market. Olivier Henry-Biabaud, author of the report, commented: “Young travellers are enthusiastic with old city centres and historical and cultural diversity: 76% of visitors take time to explore historical monuments vs. only 56% in non European cities; they find it easy to explore thanks to accessible public transportation in cities offering safe and clean conditions for visiting and opportunities to enjoy days & night activities, interacting and engaging more with local people”


The European Travel Commission (ETC), identified that the beauty and cleanliness of Europe’s landscape and the diversity of its offer especially thrill the overseas youth traveller. Based on ETC’s analysis of TCI Research data, overseas youth travellers are more satisfied with a trip to Europe than both the European and average youth traveller. Their positive impressions stem from Europe’s attractions: its range of natural and urban sights, historic attractions and leisure activities.

Northern and Southern & Mediterranean Europe lead in providing the most satisfying experience in Europe. Although non-European youth travellers’ satisfaction with their trips relate, Northern Europe trumps with the hospitality of locals, while Southern & Mediterranean Europe surprises with the range of leisure activities, accommodation and restaurant options.


Supported by the Council of Europe, the European Youth Card offers discounts on culture, travel, accommodation, shopping and services in most European countries. The European Youth Card Association (EYCA) is a non-profit organisation that represents 41 youth card organisations in 38 countries across Europe.

Anyone under the age of 30 (or 26, depending on the country or region) can become a cardholder – they don’t have to be a student or a resident of a European country. For people coming from outside Europe, they can buy the card (approx. 5 – 9 Euros) online through