Ulises Ortega, Chairman of STAY WYSE represented WYSE Travel Confederation at the 19th General Assembly in Korea in October, at the invitation of the Secretary General of UNWTO. The UNWTO’s General Assembly is a week long meeting where more than 90 countries participate represented by their Tourism Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

Our Executive Committe Chairperson represented the Confederation and our joint initiative with UNWTO. It is a forum with the clear purpose to not only learn about other countries experiences but to find possible ways to improve tourism quality and activity worldwide.

Below is a copy of the speech given by Mr Ulises Ortega

General Debate ‘Tourism Towards 2030
’‘Advancing Youth Tourism towards 2030’”THE POWER OF YOUTH TRAVEL”
Mr Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General and, dear friend, thank you for inviting me to speak to this important forum. Excellencies, Ministers of Tourism, Heads of Delegations, ladies, and Gentlemen.

We are all here, somehow, to change the world and to try to make it a better place. So what a great opportunity, to meet this year when the United Nations have considered 2011, the International year of Youth.

I am here representing hundreds of organizations from 120 countries in sectors such as language schools, budget accommodation, work abroad, volunteering, adventure and more, but what I am really representing here today is the Voice of millions of young potential visitors to your countries, that tomorrow may chose to go and spend their money in your economies, if you allow me now, to change the way you perceive the value of youth travel.

I would like to share with you some interesting pieces of data, which we have put together. For example: Would you believe, that young people tend to spend more than the average tourist?…. This happens because they usually stay much longer at the destination.Our 2007 survey indicated that young travellers spent 2.7 times more than the average tourist and in cases like Australia it increased by 6.4 times.

And much of this is being spent with local suppliers rather than multinational corporations, having a more positive and direct impact on your economies. Another fact: Which country, I ask, hasn´t suffered from terrorism, war, violence, epidemics or natural disasters? …….Well, young travellers are not easily deterred from travelling. Our research shows that for the vast majority, those threats were unlikely to have any impact on their travel plans. In economic crises the average tourist tends to cut costs so they usually stop travelling, when many young travellers use their savings to travel until they get a new job.

The drop in international tourism in 2009 was 14 times more severe than the drop in youth travel. 4.2% vs 0.3%.

Thirdly: youth travel diversifies the travel market and links it with other sectors of the economy. By 2008 the overseas student industry alone contributed in Australia and in the UK with more than $15.5 billion US dlls in each of their economies.Some of the information I have mentioned, can be found in a new joint publication with the WTO: ‘The Power of Youth Travel’ which is available from the Affiliate Members stand.

As you can see, those governments which are already focusing on this market are getting clear benefits from youth travel.In my country, Mexico, we are already working together with Ms Gloria Guevara our Tourism Minister to implement a division of youth travel in order to cater to this market in a more specific manner. The beauty is that Young people are naturally more respectful and appreciative towards the culture they visit.

They are tomorrow’s global citizens and are the living prototype of sustainable tourism. It is for all these reasons, Mr. Secretary General, that I respectfully request that concrete, reliable proposals with the power to facilitate international youth travel be included in the Executive Council’s agenda.

Attending to this market is not only important because it is profitable, … but it is essential because facilitating youth travel strengthens peace and understanding. This is in fact the mission of our organization: WYSE originates from a group of students who following the II world war, were convinced that facilitating travel and intercultural exchange among youth, would avoid another world war.

Finally I wouldn’t like to end, without sharing a quote with you…”To travel is to stand on the edge of one world and from there, look to the next.” unknown Dear colleagues and friends,In this international year of youth, I invite you to make.. a change.

Give your countries the chance to be part of the future of youth travel. Offer those millions of young travelers the opportunity to visit your country. Welcome their contribution to your economies and enhance worldwide cultural exchange.

Perhaps by doing this we can all enjoy the making of a more peaceful world with more empathy, tolerance and understanding.

Thank you.