The importance of being young
As a traveller what does the word ‘hostel’ mean to you? Some down-market, overnight, backpackers stop perhaps in a third world country? A down-at-heel building in a dubious part of town where you share facilities and sleep with 20 others? A place for youth rather than families? You’re wrong
Youth travel has always been strong; almost a right-of-passage between formal education and settling down.
Now there is a realisation that the market for youth travel is greater and resources are being put into it so that greater variety exists.
In London the first of a new type of accommodation opens in July that highlights security and style, something not normally associated with the hostel market.
Why? Because the owners claim that the existing quality of accommodation is poor yet more people other than backpackers are looking to stay in hostels such as school groups and families. Even business-conscious business men, they claim, although that seems a bit unlikely. There will be two, four, six and eight bedded rooms, most of them en-suite.
The developers are two companies, Safeland which is self-storage company and Moorefield which creates student accommodation.
Something similar is happening in New York. It has been estimated by the local tourism company, NYC & Company, that just over 15 million youths will visit the city this year, about 20 per cent of all visitors and of those, the largest group will be from the UK. With such numbers the city will legalise hostels to encourage a safer environment and create safe and affordable accommodation. As part of a whole promotion to attract youth, NYC & Co have created a promotion called NYC<30 which will offer student discounts and a range of features that will be announced in late April. Once lured – and been happy – people tend to return and with a travelling life of perhaps 50 years, the potential to attract the youth market at the beginning of their travelling life is important.
Of interest to all visitors though is the fact that the city is doing a Boris. There will be a bike-share system with 7,000 bicycles at 600 different rental points not only in Manhattan but throughout all of the boroughs. You might wonder whether you fancy some of the streets of Manhattan on a bike but the city has created over 700 miles of bike lanes to make the city more accessible to cyclists. And the people most likely to bicycle are those under 30.
So in London and New York at least, the youth market is likely to get a short in the arm. Gone are the days when tourist boards thought that the youth market spent little and contributed little. Now they are wanted, wherever they might go …