The San Diego Declaration on Youth, Student and Educational Travel was produced at the 2012 World Youth & Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) in San Diego, USA. It provides a set of major recommendations on how and why the youth travel industry should be supported through government policy.
How did the Declaration come about?
At WYSTC 2011 in Barcelona I was invited to sit in on a meeting of representatives of tourism boards attending the conference. About 12 or so people joined the meeting, most from national tourism organisations, some from regional or city tourism boards. As each participant gave an update on current youth market trends, major campaigns and barriers to growth, it was clear that many of the same challenges were shared by different destinations; cuts in funding, lack of research specific to the youth market, lack of awareness by decision makers about the real importance of the youth market… the list went on.
The testimonials completed, all eyes turned to me, as the representative from UNWTO to ask what could be done to improve the situation. Many participants had pointed out how useful it would be to have an easy-to-read summary expressing the importance of the youth market in economic and social terms. I proposed that we should work on preparing a declaration that should go to all tourism ministers and key decision makers in tourism.
Who got a say in what the Declaration said?
Over 700 delegates from 64 countries attending the 2012 edition of WYSTC. In the run-up to WYSTC 2012 plans were made to consult all delegates and focus their attention on providing practical recommendations. ‘If you had the ear of your minister of tourism for five minutes, what would you tell him/her?’. Once in San Diego the appeal was launched at the opening night reception and repeated throughout the conference. Emails, tweets and verbal suggestions were received throughout the conference and on the penultimate evening of the conference I compiled this in a format that could be properly presented to UNWTO, of which WYSE Travel Confederation is an Affiliate Member.
The then Director General and Chairman of the Board of WYSE Travel Confederation were personally invited by the Secretary General of UNWTO, Taleb Rifai to make the case for UNWTO Members to support the Declaration at the following UNWTO Executive Council in Campeche, Mexico in October 2012. These Members agreed to take the document and agreed that it should form the basis of UNWTO’s own Recommendations on Youth Travel. These Recommendations were finally approved at the 20th UNWTO General Assembly in Victoria Falls in August 2013.
Are the Recommendations binding?
No, but they represent a useful set of guidelines for any tourism board (national or otherwise) to consider when putting together their policy on the youth market. Policy makers can’t just pull these things out of their sleeve. It helps if they come from a democratic consultation with the industry, and a respected authority like WYSE Travel Confederation.
In a nutshell, what are the Recommendations?
Open the document, go to page 4 and have a look!
Declaración de San Diego (Español)
Déclaration de San Diego (Français)