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Emerging Youth Travel Market Trends

Youth travel trends and emerging global economies with young populations are eager to explore the world. They will also transform the travel and hospitality sector.

While mainstream brands are well-versed in the needs of western customers, affluent Millennial and Generation X consumer markets in China, India and Saudi Arabia have different tastes, needs and population. This will ultimately change the face of youth travel trends.

  • By 2030, majority growth in international travel will come from Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to the World Economic Forum
  • US Generation Z consumers spend on average 29 days on travel each year. One quarter of their budget goes on flights (the most of any age for the record) and are likely to seek cheaper accommodation, according to Expedia
  • Millennials are naturally more tech-savvy and connected than their Baby Boomer and Generation Jones elders. Ultimately, their behaviour is shaping how people interact with the travel industry

Youth travel trends

How do changing youth travel trends affect your travel brand?

  • Brands have the opportunity to forge relationships with a generation who are discovering new travel destinations for the first time
  • Chinese Millennials, also known as the moonlight generation, are armed with disposal income and willing to spend on travel and shopping experiences
  • Indian and Chinese travellers favour multigenerational holidays over solo travel
  • Muslim travellers are increasingly visiting countries where Islam is not the primary religion, however do seek cuisine and services that align with their religions needs 
  • Short-haul holidays are on the increase from Indian consumers, who are seeking to relieve work and life pressures

The future of Indian youth travel trends

Research conducted by companies who specialise in future trends, suggest that the Indian Millennial travel market is ready to explode. According to the World Economic Forum, two-thirds of the country’s population is 35 years and under. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicts that by 2020, Indian travellers will account for 50 million outbound travellers. ‘India’s population is expected to overtake China’s as the world’s largest in the next five years,’ says Ed Fuller, president at Laguna Strategic Advisors. ‘Its young, middle class and educated will double in size to 547 million shortly thereafter.’

According to Expedia, the top three reasons that Indian Millennials’ give as a reason for travel, are to have a break from work (50%), to seek more excitement (48%) and to reduce stress (46%). The volume of Indian Millennial consumers using Airbnb abroad has grown by 150% year-on-year, according to Airbnb. ‘Today, urban Millennial consumers in India are no different from their counterparts in the Western market,’ says Amanpreet Bajaj, country manager for India at Airbnb. ‘They want to travel more, get the most out of the destination they visit, and are open to visiting newer destinations.’  

Compared with western consumers who favour solo travel, Indian Millennials are more likely to travel with their family on multigenerational holidays. 50% of Indian Millennials who completed the Expedia India’s Millennial survey 2017 said that they found the concept of solo travel intimidating.  Popular short-haul destinations include Vietnam, Philippines, Bali and Dubai because many Indian workers have limited leave and opt in favour of less expensive destinations.

Youth travel trends

The future of Chinese youth travel trends

Young Chinese consumers continue to present key growth in the global travel market. In 2020, it is estimated that Chinese consumers will take almost 70% more trips abroad than in 2015, according to Bloomberg. In 2015, Chinese consumers made 128 million trips abroad, according to government data; 18–34-year-olds accounted for around 60% of outbound travellers that year, according to travel research company Phocuswright.

Millennials are keen to visit new countries for pure escapism and (luxury) shopping, and have even started taking ‘lung-cleansing trips’ to clean-air destinations. According to Airbnb, most Chinese Millennials prioritise overseas travel ahead of clearing debt or purchasing a home.

Interestingly, ’Millennials are less interested in the group trip ‘tick box’ tourism of their parents’ generation, and are instead travelling independently and seeking out authentic experiences,’ says Helena Beard, managing director of China Travel Outbound.

Unlike previous generations, Chinese Millennials are more open-minded when it comes to trying new cuisines. An Airbnb survey shows that more than 65% of Chinese Millennials would rather eat local food in local restaurants, instead of places they are familiar with. According to the survey, 89% are ‘always looking for an adventure’ when they travel.

The future of Muslim youth travel trends

Muslim Millennial travellers are on the rise and projected to spend more than £76.3 billion ($100 billion, €86 billion) annually on travel by 2025, according to a report by MasterCard and Muslim travel website HalalTrip. CrescentRating estimates that more than 30% of Muslim travellers in 2016 were Millennials, while 30% were from Generation Z.

Muslims are increasingly looking to visit countries where Islam is not the main religion. ’For Muslim Millennials, travel is more than just a vacation,’ says Aisha Islam, vice-president of core and digital products for Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei at MasterCard. ‘It is often viewed as an opportunity for personal growth and development, to seek new experiences and for bonding with family and friends.’

Youth travel trends

The more popular countries include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Australia, Singapore and the UAE. In Japan, the Okayama Health Tourism Association has created the Peach Mark logo to help Muslim travellers find facilities that meet their needs. These include restaurants which serve halal and an Islamic purification ritual wudu. The Tourism Authority of Thailand is using 15% of its marketing budget to promote the country as Muslim friendly.

‘We are definitely seeing the influence of a new breed of young travellers, Millennials and Generation Z, who are combining technology with a real desire to explore the world while still adhering to their faith-based needs,’ says Fazal Bahardeen, CEO of CrescentRating and HalalTrip.

If you fancy reading some of my other Asia articles, click the links below:
The big business of wellness tourism
How can cities beat the over tourism epidemic?
Thawing of the Polar market
How much do consumers really care about sustainable tourism?
Millennial family travel market – How ready is your business to adapt?
Budget Travel – Does it have to be a race to the bottom?


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