The International Student Travel Market: Travelstyle, Motivations, and Activities
Business and Management
Submitted By mhy9224
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAVEL MARKET: TRAVELSTYLE, MOTIVATIONS, AND ACTIVITIES
GREG RICHARDS* and JULIE WILSON† *Fundació Interarts (Interarts Foundation) and Rovira i Virgili University, Tarragona, Spain †Department of Geography and History, Rovira i Virgili University, Tarragona, Spain
Abstract: One sign of the growing interest in student travel both from the tourism industry and academic researchers is the global independent travel survey conducted by the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) and the Association for Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS). The survey, conducted in 2002, covers the profile and travel behavior of 1630 students booking travel from student travel organizations in eight countries. This article reports the initial results of this research. The survey showed that students are frequent travel consumers with extensive previous experience of relatively long trips outside of their own world region. Most students see their travelstyle as that of “traveler,” but a significant proportion of the market characterized their travel as “backpacking.” Motivations reflecting a desire for experience are prevalent with student travelers, particularly in terms of exploring other cultures. Motivations tend to be differentiated by destination region and travelstyle and are distinct between students and other young travelers. In spite of these differences in motivation, however, the activities actually engaged in showed little differentiation between students and others. The most frequently mentioned activities were visiting historical sites, walking, sitting in cafés and restaurants, and shopping, which were practiced by over 70% of respondents. In this and other respects, the article argues that comparisons of motivation and actual activities indicate a gap between the ideology and practice of travel. Key words: Student travel; Motivations; Activities; Experience
It has been estimated that about 20% of all tourism journeys in the world are made by young people aged 15 to 25 (Horak & Weber, 2000), and this is forecast to rise to 25% by 2005. Many of these young people are or have been students, and therefore student travel is increasingly being recognized as an
important segment of the global youth travel market. Students and independent youth travelers in general tend to travel more frequently and for longer periods than many older tourists or those taking package holidays. They also tend to have few external commitments and generally have over 20 weeks
Address correspondence to Dr. Greg Richards, Fundació Interarts and Rovira i Virgili University, Tarragona, Carrer Mallora 272, 9a, 08037 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: 34-93-487-7022; Fax: 34-93-487-2644; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHARDS AND WILSON In many previous studies, student travel has tended to be subsumed within the wider youth travel market. This is not particularly surprising, given that the WTO’s definition of youth tourism includes all travel by young people aged between 15 and 29 years (WTO, 1991). Excepting the increasing proportion of “mature” students in some countries, the vast majority of students will fall into the age range covered by youth tourism. Given the growing numbers of student travelers, it is still surprising that major studies of the youth travel market have tended to ignore the presence of students as a discrete market segment within the wider youth market. Although the student travel industry has a clearly defined structure and sees itself as having a clearly defined clientele, this has rarely been recognized in the wider youth travel literature. One reason for this may be the widening market of student travel companies, which increasingly includes other young tourists (Carr 2003a). This has tended to blur the definitional boundaries of youth and student travel, and helps to explain the lack of clear definitions of student travel in the literature. Relatively few studies have therefore focused solely on student travel. Most existing research has tended to be based on secondary sources rather than original survey data, or has been derived from national and international tourism analyses on the basis of the younger travelers in the samples. More detailed studies of student travel have tended to focus on a number of specific areas: general studies of student travel behavior; different subniches of the youth and student market; national studies of student travel demand; impacts of increased mobility and studies of specific student-related travel phenomena, such as the US spring break market. General studies of the student market include those by Bywater (1993), Carr (2003b), Chadee and Cutler (1996), Mintel Market Intelligence (2001), and Hudman (1990). In particular, research by Carr (2003a, 2003b, 2003c) on tourism by university students argues that university-level student travelers have a clear preference for independently organized travel and vacation arrangements. Carr’s (2003b) study (one of the few based on primary empirical analysis) focused on the holiday behavior of 464 New Zealand university students and concluded, among other things, that package tour options were not favored, demonstrating a higher use and trust of
of free time outside of the university term each year (Carr, 2003a). This has provided the stimulus for the development of specialist professional student and youth travel companies worldwide. Student travel in particular is also a major potential growth market, as the international student population expands, and incomes rise among young people and new markets are opened up in newly industrializing economies. Perhaps most importantly for the future of the travel industry, student travel also provides an important basis for the travel decisions of future generations. In spite of the long-standing importance of student travel, it is only the explosive growth of the international student population in the last decade or so that has brought this market onto the research agenda. This was first emphasized internationally in November 1991 with the first World Tourism Organization (WTO) conference on youth tourism in Delhi. The International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) and Federation of International Youth Travel Organizations (FIYTO) co-host an annual globally attended trade fair and conference devoted exclusively to the youth and student travel industry, while in 2003 the Student and Youth Travel Association of North America (SYTA) hosted in Quebec its seventh annual conference on youth travel. Despite this, student and youth travel has not been studied in great detail, largely due to the misconception that these travel markets are low value. As other markets have begun to falter in the face of terrorism or economic uncertainty, however, the relatively constant demand generated by students has brought this market increasingly to the attention of policy makers and researchers. This article is based on the initial findings of a transnational survey on the global student independent traveler market, launched in 2002 by the ISTC and the Association for Leisure and Tourism Education (ATLAS). It focuses on different dimensions of the most recent major trip made by 1630 student respondents. Particular attention is paid to the travelstyle, motivations, and activities of student travelers in different world regions. Literature Review As noted by Carr (2003a), there has been a comparative dearth of studies on student holiday travel.
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAVEL MARKET informal sources of holiday information. While these students mainly relied on their own savings, they often gained money from their parents and through loans to help pay for their vacations. He also found that the main motives for travel were a combination of passive, social, and hedonistic desires, as reflected in their holiday behavior. Specific subniches or segments of student travel have more recently attracted attention, such as the growth of “backpacker” tourism, including the “gap year” (e.g., Simpson, 2003) and the Big Overseas Experience, or “Big OE” phenomenon from Australia and New Zealand (e.g., Bell, 2002). Many students are now taking a major trip before or after their university studies, and this has now become a major source of independent travelers or “backpackers” across the globe. The emergence of the backpacker “market” has produced more detailed studies of the characteristics of backpacker travel, including high levels of interaction with hosts, low organization, and the use of low-cost, less comfortable facilities (Loker-Murphy & Pearce, 1995; Pearce, 1990). Studies also emerged of backpacker decision making and motivations and the dynamics of backpacker behavior (Loker-Murphy, 1996; Ross, 1997). More critical analyses of backpacking have begun to reveal the varied nature of the travelers themselves, causing more attention to be paid to issues of distinction, identity, and practice in backpacker travel (e.g.. Desforges, 1998; Giesbers, 2002; Marteau, 1998; Richards & Wilson, 2004b; Sørensen, 2003; Spreitzhofer, 1998; Uriely, Yonay, & Simchai, 2002; Welk, 2004a, 2004b; Westerhausen, 2002). Attention has also turned to processes of social interaction, story telling, narrative, and representation in independent youth travel (Anderskov, 2002; Cederholm, 1999; Clarke, 2003; Elsrud, 2001; Hottola, 1999; Murphy, 2001; Noy, 2004; Tickell, 2001). Some studies of the student market have also paid attention to segmentation by gender and cultural differences. In particular, gender differences have been the focus of studies by Hashimoto (2000), while Reisinger and Mavondo (2003) analyzed the cultural differences between students from different countries, based on Hofstede’s dimensions of culture. The growth of student travel has also spawned a number of industry and government-led surveys at a national level, particularly in Australia and New
Zealand (e.g., Bureau of Tourism Research, 2000). However, most of the information on this market comes from surveys conducted by individual companies (which are often not available to third parties) and subanalyses of national tourism surveys (Richards & Wilson, 2004a). The previous tendency of studies to focus on student travelers from “Western” regions is beginning to change, for example, with research emerging based on travel behavior and motivations of students of Asian origin (Chadee & Cutler, 1996), and the comparative travel experiences of Asian and Australasian students (Frost & Shanka, 1999). The growth of international student exchanges has also increased attention on the travel behavior of international exchange students abroad and comparisons of exchange students with domestic students. Several recent studies have been made of these developments, including: Carr (2003a); Babin and KuemLim (2001); Field (1999); Kim and Jogaratnan (2002); Reisinger, Mavondo, and Weber (2001); Reisinger and Mavondo (2002); Son (2003); and Sung and Hsu (1996). There is also increasing attention being paid to the cultural impact of travel on students and their hosts. For example, Gmelch (1997) made a study of student travel and personal development, based on personal travel dairies kept by American students traveling in Europe. The growth of student travel has also created a number of specific foci. Various studies have examined the more hedonistic side of student travel in terms of sex, drugs, and alcohol-related behaviors (e.g., Clark & Clift, 1994, Ryan, Robertson, Page, & Kearsley, 1996; Smeaton, Josiam, & Dietrich, 1998), while studies by Butts, Salazar, Sapio, and Thomas (1996), Hobson and Josiam (1992, 1996), and Josiam, Clements, and Hobson (1994) have focused on the US student spring break market. However, Carr (2003a) notes that while many of these studies of specific aspects of students’ behavior within destinations are important in their own right, they may contribute to a distorted image of the holiday experiences of university students, because they do not always discuss the potential to take different types of vacation and engage in different activities with those researched. The increasing attention paid to student travel is also related to the wider sociological impacts of increased youth mobility, although Pritchard and Morgan (1996) claim that the adven-
RICHARDS AND WILSON million students a year in 106 countries worldwide (www.aboutistc.org, accessed June 2004), the respondents are likely to be typical of a large proportion of student travelers. While a further limitation relates to the use of email lists from commercial companies—which precluded monitoring of response rates—the large size of the total sample obtained again makes it likely that the data reflect patterns in the wider student population. The survey generated 1630 responses from students having purchased student travel products in eight countries: Canada, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Mexico, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, and the UK (see Table 1). Forty-two different nationalities were represented in the sample, emphasizing the mobility of the international student population (although the majority of respondents were nationals of these eight countries). These countries were selected to provide a range of different types of generating markets in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe in an attempt to redress the European bias of many previous studies. Profile of Student Travelers Perhaps surprisingly, females, who made up 68.5% of respondents, dominate the sample. This apparent imbalance does to some extent reflect an increasing level of female participation in long-haul travel (Richards & Wilson, 2004a) although a degree of sampling bias caused by the email survey cannot be discounted. As would be expected with students, the respondents tend to be highly educated, with over 30% having already obtained an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. The student respon-
turous image of youth travel is actually a reflection of student travel practices, because these are less constrained than those of young people who are employed. In summary, it seems that in spite of this growing body of student and youth travel literature, research in the area remains fragmented and it is difficult to gain an overview of the global market. As such, this article attempts to address this issue by providing a comprehensive picture of student travel derived from original research conducted internationally with student travelers. In particular, attention is paid to the motivations that stimulate students to travel, the travelstyles that they adopt “on the road,” and the activities they undertake. Methodology This article is based on international primary research focused on students. Student travelers were contacted during the spring of 2002 via ISTC’s global network of student travel organizations, using mailing lists provided by travel company members of ISTC in eight different countries. The research population therefore consisted of those purchasing independent travel products from student travel companies. Potential respondents were approached by email and asked to participate in the survey, using a special survey system designed for ISTC. The data were translated into SPSS to allow for more detailed statistical analysis including chi square and F-ratio testing and, therefore, only statistically significant differences have been discussed in this article. ISTC and ATLAS designed the questionnaire collaboratively, and the ATLAS Backpacker Research Group advised on the selection and design of questions. Included were some standard questions developed for other surveys, such as the ATLAS Cultural Tourism Survey. This allowed comparison of the results and limited the need to pilot the questionnaire. As with all email-based research, the survey method involved a number of limitations. Most importantly, the survey population consisted only of those purchasing travel products from student travel suppliers. It is therefore not representative of all student travelers, many of whom bypass suppliers in the student travel sector. However, given the fact that the companies represented by ISTC serve over 10
Table 1 Respondents by Country of Student Travel Organization
Country Sweden Czech Republic Slovenia Mexico Canada UK Hong Kong SA Total Frequency 548 315 235 219 194 59 43 17 1630 Percent 33.6 19.3 14.4 13.4 11.9 3.6 2.6 1.0 100
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAVEL MARKET dents tend to have relatively low incomes, with over 60% having an annual income of $5000 or less (Table 2). Given that the cost of travel sometimes exceeded the annual income of the respondents, this underlines the important roles in the student market of saving to travel and working while traveling, as it implies that income is supplemented by other sources when meeting trip costs. Many students travel on working visas to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Europe, funding their travel by working for a few months. Australia issued 78,000 working holidaymaker visas in 2000 alone, a high proportion of which were issued to current or recently graduated students (Cooper, O’Mahony, & Erfurt, 2004). In spite of their relative youth (the average age of the sample is 24), the respondents have a high level of previous travel experience. Over 40% have made more than seven trips outside the world region in which they live, which in most cases would have involved intercontinental travel. The level of student travelers’ previous travel experience is also emphasized by the fact that 68% of trips they had made in their entire “travel career” (Pearce, 1993) were repeat visits to the destination in question. Trip Characteristics Respondents were asked to give details of their last main trip outside of their home region. “Main trip” in this context referred to the longest trip made by the respondent in the 12 months prior to the study. In general, the flows of student travel reflect those of international tourism, with the main destination regions being Northern Europe (39%), Southern Europe (18%), North America (12%), and Eastern Europe (11%), with a considerable number visiting South East Asia and Australasia. The average trip duration is relatively long at 65 days, with an average of two countries per trip being visited, demon-
strating the wide scope of the trips undertaken. For more experienced travelers (those who had previously taken more long trips), the number of countries visited per trip is higher. The level of Internet use in planning trips is relatively high (72%), though only 12% actually used it to book their air travel, while 32% of respondents used it as an information source while “on the road.” It should be noted, however, that the survey was administered via the Internet and this may have influenced the likelihood of using the Internet to book and plan trips. A relatively high proportion of respondents used travel agencies to book their air travel (74%), but relatively few had booked either surface travel (30%) or accommodation (33%) in advance via the travel trade. The booking lead-time is also relatively short given the average trip length, as travel bookings are made on average 6.5 weeks ahead of the departure and 4.6 weeks ahead for accommodation. Although the average daily expenditure for the student travelers in a local destination is relatively low (Table 3), their total expenditure per trip is approximately US$1,800—a considerable amount for students with relatively low incomes (see above). In terms of accommodation, visiting friends and relatives is the most common mode (41%), followed by backpacker hostels (32%), hotels (29%), and youth hostels (21%). Travelstyle The analysis of trip characteristics indicated some important differences in modes of travel, highlighting differences in the style of travel, or “travelstyle” of respondents. In this survey, travelstyle was operationalized through a self-definition question that asked respondents to classify themselves as “backpackers,” “travelers,” or “tour-
Table 2 Students’ Annual Income
Income Categories $5,000 or less $5,001–10,000 $10,001–20,000 $20,000 or more % of Respondents 61% 22% 10% 6%
Table 3 Daily Expenditure “On the Road”
Daily Expenditure (US$) $5–10 $11–20 $21–30 $31–40 $41–50 Over $50 % of Respondents 24 33 21 11 7 4
RICHARDS AND WILSON gued. The following sections examine the relationships between travelstyle, motivation, and activity. Students’ Motivations for Travel Participants were asked to respond to a series of statements on their motivation for undertaking their last main trip. These statements (or constructs) were developed on the basis of the leisure motivation scale (cf. Ragheb & Beard, 1982; Ryan, 1991). The responses indicate that the most important motivations for the respondents as a whole are exploring other cultures and looking for excitement (Table 4). Increasing knowledge, relaxing mentally, and a range of socially orientated motives (e.g., interacting with local people, friendship, and visiting friends and relatives) are also seen as relatively important. Becoming more involved in the places traveled to, in terms of both gaining a feeling of belonging or contributing something to those places, are scored as the least important reasons for traveling overall. Looking at the relationship between travelstyle and motivation, it can be seen that “backpackers” tend to emphasize exploring other cultures, looking for excitement, increasing knowledge, and interacting with local people more than other respondents. “Travelers” are more likely to score highly on so-
ists” during their last main trip. The main reason for including this question was that student travelers are often labeled as backpackers but it is seen as more appropriate to ask them how they themselves would describe their way of traveling. This is a particularly interesting point given the more recent emergence of the “backpacker” industry in parts of the world. Most students see themselves as “travelers” (52%), but a large proportion of the market characterize their travel as “backpacking” (31%) and 17% opt for the “tourist” label. Those calling themselves “backpackers” tend to travel longer and spend more in the destination. Interestingly, analysis of travelstyles by destination indicates that students are most likely to associate with the “backpacker” label where the development of the backpacker industry is strongest (e.g., within enclaves of dedicated backpacker infrastructure in Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Australasia). Those seeing themselves as “travelers” were more likely to be visiting North America, and “tourists” were most likely to be visiting Northern Europe. It might be expected that different travelstyles stem from different motivations and are characterized by different activities undertaken in the destination. This may be particularly true for “backpackers,” who often seek to distinguish themselves from other tourists, as Welk (2004a) has ar-
Table 4 Motivations for Students to Travel, by Travelstyle (Means)
Motivation Explore other cultures Went on trip for excitement Increase my knowledge Relax mentally Interact with local people Have a good time with friends Challenge my abilities Build friendships with others Visit friends and relatives Use my imagination Avoid hustle and bustle Find myself Relax physically Develop close friendships Associate with other travelers Be in a calm atmosphere Use my physical abilities/skills Gain a feeling of belonging Contribute something to the places I visit Backpacker 4.59 4.32 4.09 3.88 3.90 3.72 3.84 3.64 2.95 3.63 3.44 3.37 3.21 3.10 3.46 3.10 3.19 2.78 2.70 Traveler 4.38 4.13 4.01 3.78 3.75 3.72 3.68 3.67 3.70 3.36 3.33 3.31 3.23 3.32 2.97 2.91 2.92 3.03 2.79 Tourist 4.19 4.06 3.73 3.87 3.35 3.76 3.19 3.32 3.48 2.98 3.28 3.01 3.45 3.00 2.91 3.03 2.64 2.86 2.50 Total 4.42 4.18 3.99 3.83 3.73 3.73 3.65 3.60 3.43 3.38 3.35 3.28 3.26 3.20 3.12 2.99 2.96 2.92 2.72 Significance Level 0.000 0.001 0.000 ns 0.000 ns 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000 ns 0.002 0.031 0.000 0.000 0.024 0.000 0.002 0.004
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAVEL MARKET cially related motivations such as visiting friends and relatives, developing close friendships, and a feeling of belonging. “Tourists” tend to emphasize relaxation-related motivations, particularly physical relaxation. The motivations that did not differ with travelstyle and therefore that might be considered to be general to all the student respondents were mental relaxation, having a good time, and avoiding hustle and bustle. Because certain destination regions tend to draw student travelers with specific travelstyles, motivations also tend to differ by world region visited. European destinations, for example, were associated more strongly with leisure-related or recreational and diversionary motivations such as physical and mental relaxation and having a good time. North America was the most popular with “travelers” and also scored more highly on visiting friends and relatives. Africa tended to be associated more strongly than other regions with challenging one’s abilities, contributing something to the places visited, and building friendships with others (i.e., more exploratory-based motivations). Latin America was linked more strongly to being in a calm atmosphere and interacting with local people, while Australia and New Zealand attracted students motivated by interacting with other travelers and having a good time. This underlines the tendency for travelstyles to be linked to certain combinations of motivations that lead student travelers to choose particular destinations perceived to offer the possibility of meeting specific needs. Activities of Students in the Destination The link between motivation, travelstyle, and destination region also resulted in different patterns of activities during the trip. The most frequently mentioned activities were visiting historical sites, walking and trekking, sitting in cafés and restaurants, and shopping, each of which was practiced by over 70% of respondents (Table 5). Students therefore had a very similar pattern of activities to other young travelers (Richards & Wilson, 2003), though there were some differences. Students were more likely to be undertaking cultural activities, which may to some extent be related to the discounts that students often have to visit museums and monuments. Students were also more likely to be learning a language than
Table 5 Activities Undertaken “On the Road” by Student Travelers
Activities Undertaken Visiting historic sites, monuments Walking, trekking Sitting in cafés, restaurants Shopping Visiting museums Cultural events Nightclubs Hanging out on the beach Observing wildlife, nature Sport/adrenaline activities Watching sport Learning a language Studying Working as volunteer Earning money % of Respondents 77 75 71 70 69 66 56 55 52 28 22 17 12 8 3
other young travelers, but less likely to be following academic studies. This indicates that travel is more likely to be seen as a break from study for students, whereas people who are working often have to cram their studies into their holiday time. Importantly, the comparison of motivation and actual activities indicates a distinct gap between the ideology and practice of student travel. Although students express a motive to explore other cultures more often than other young travelers, the cultural activities that they undertake tend to reflect relatively “normal” modes of tourist consumption, such as visiting museums and other cultural sites. This is also a fairly passive form of cultural exploration when compared with the expressed motivation to interact with local people. In addition, students return from their trips having perceived that they obtained benefits very similar to those gained by other young travelers, the most important being “a thirst for more travel.” This suggests that—just like international student exchanges (Simpson, 2003)—the experience of student travel is very often one of “suspension” in a globalized youth culture bubble, rather than total immersion in the culture being visited. There is little evidence that student travelers undergo any form of “reversal” during their trip, although the process is also clearly more than a simple extension of the home environment (Richards & Wilson, 2004a), leading to a situation of being suspended somewhere between reversal and extension.
RICHARDS AND WILSON are willing to skimp on accommodation and travel costs in order to spend more on “once in a lifetime” experiences (Binder, 2004). The strongest motivation that emerged from the research was a desire for experience, as many respondents indicated that they were keen to be active as well as passive, creative as well as sociable, and to experience the familiar as well as the exotic. Although relaxation, friendship, and sociability were important, the experiential and exploration aspects were more so. The importance of the desire to experience is also underlined by the fact that the most important benefit gained from travel was identified as “a thirst for more travel.” This tends to support the idea that travel consumption patterns are strongly influenced by student tourism experiences. Destinations that currently try and demarket themselves to student and youth travelers (particularly “backpackers”) therefore need to realize that they may be dissuading future repeat visits from today’s “global nomads” who may be keen and high-spending independent travelers in the future. Analyzing the desire for experience in more detail, however, requires more consideration of the type of experiences students say they are seeking. The most frequently mentioned elements of experience relate to exploring other cultures and searching for excitement. This suggests a desire to experience the unknown, and particularly to explore cultures different from one’s own. The survey findings seem to suggest, however, that these desires are not always fulfilled through travel, as the activities engaged in by student travelers are little different from those of other young (or indeed any other) tourists. This suggests a “gap” between the ideology and practice of student travel, which reflects that of the youth travel market in general (Cohen, 2004). Rather than engaging fully with the host culture or entirely leaving their home culture behind, it seems that many student travelers are “suspended” between their desire for escape and their need for a degree of familiarity and home comforts. This state of “suspension” (Richards & Wilson, 2004a) reflects the experience of many students on extended study visits or exchange programs, which often end up spending more time with other international students than with people from the host culture. This environment becomes a breeding ground for an international student subculture, based on a shared experience of travel as part of a global youth culture.
The international survey data indicate that students are frequent travel consumers who have relatively extensive travel experience outside of their own world region. This suggests that student travelers may be more experienced consumers than might be expected. Although the geographical distribution of student travel and the types of activities engaged in differ little from those of the independent traveler market as a whole, there are signs that some destinations are beginning to take more interest in this market segment. This is principally because of the relatively long length of stay of student travelers, which significantly increases their economic impact in the destination. Although daily average expenditure is low, many trips last 2 months or more, and students will often spend more in the destination in total than travelers in most other leisure tourism segments. The student travel industry is well established and has a growing global network of suppliers. However, there are signs that many students are bypassing “traditional” distribution channels in their selection of tourism products. Although almost three quarters of the sample used a travel agent to book their air travel, many of these used a general rather than a specialist travel agency. There was also relatively little use of the travel trade to buy surface travel or accommodation products, in spite of the increased packaging of transport and accommodation in destinations such as Australia and New Zealand. Many respondents looked for products on the Internet and then made their own travel arrangements. There are signs that many student travelers are becoming “skilled consumers” (Richards, 1996) who are capable of using their own travel experience and the growing range of information sources to develop their own “customized” travel experiences. The travel industry may therefore need to develop new products that cater more specifically for this need. There are some indications that this is already happening, particularly in popular backpacking destinations such as Australia and New Zealand (Richards & Wilson, 2004a). When looking at the motivations for travel, the desire for experience seems to be the main driving force for student travel. Many travelers are keen to experience as much as possible on their trips, and
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT TRAVEL MARKET Periods of suspension in this subculture or “scene” (Welk, 2004a) may arguably provide important sources of informal learning for the student “skilled consumer,” eager to experience as much as possible through relatively time-rich, money-poor modes of travel. Acknowledgments The research that this article is based on was conducted in collaboration with the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) and the Association of Tourism and Leisure Education (ATLAS). Many thanks are due to the ISTC team, particularly David Jones, Helen Cunningham, and Aafke van Sprundel, as well the various members of the ATLAS Backpacker Research Group (BRG) and to Leontine Onderwater of ATLAS for her support of the activities of the BRG.
Biographical Notes Greg Richards has a Ph.D. in Geography and specializes in the relationship between culture and tourism. Major publications include The Global Nomad (2004), Tourism and Gastronomy (2002), Cultural Attractions and European Tourism (2001), Tourism and Sustainable Community Development (2000, with D. Hall), and Cultural Tourism in Europe (1996). He is currently undertaking research on the image of Catalunya, Spain.
Julie Wilson has a Ph.D. in Human Geography and specializes in the field of tourism geography, with research interests in youth and independent travel, urban tourism, and tourism imagery. Major publications include The Global Nomad (2004) and Marine Ecotourism (2003, with B. Garrod) and she is researching the sociocultural and image-related impacts of the Universal Forum of Cultures 2004 event in Barcelona, Spain. References Anderskov, C. (2002). Backpacker culture: Meaning and identity making processes in the backpacker culture among backpackers in Central America. Research report. Denmark: Department of Ethnography and Social Anthropology, Århus University. Babin, B. J., & KuemLim, K. (2001). International students’ travel behavior: A model of the travel-related consumer/ dissatisfaction process. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 10(1), 93–106. Bell, C. (2002). The Big ‘OE’: Young New Zealand travellers as secular pilgrims. Tourist Studies, 2(2), 143–158.
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