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38 SPECIAL FEATURE YOUTH TRAVEL travel – Forming Young Minds Growing interest by youth for long-haul holidays… and a yearning for new sensations and ideas © xxxxxxx As they say in France, “les voyages forment la jeunesse”… but numerous issues are at stake when it comes to organising travel for children and teenagers. We asked the founder of ruf – and the y outh travel hall at ITB Berlin, Thomas korbus, how this sector is progressing… Thomas Korbus Founder of ruf Thomas Korbus, born in 1959, studied in Colone, Oldenburg and Bielefeld. Founder and owner of “Reisen und Freizeit mit jungen Leuten e.V”, today known as ruf Reisen GmbH. Founder of the associations “Reisenetz e.V., “Bundesforum Kinder- und Jugendreisen e.V.” and the youth travel hall at the ITB Berlin. Founder of the publishing series “Bielefelder Jugendreiseschriften”. A hUGE POTENTIAL ExIsTs FOr ThE MArkET IN ThIs ArEA, BUT IT Is IMPOrTANT FOr hOLIDAy ThEMEs AND IDEAs TO BE ATTrACTIVE TO A yOUNG TArGET GrOUP. Our core segment, i.e. youth travel for young people aged between 13 and 18 years, is stable and showing signs of expansion. It is important to always try out new holiday options for this target group and stir up enthusiasm for travelling by offering a wide range of holidays tailored to individual needs. In the ruf NEXT segment for young adults aged 18 years and above, we have experienced growth for some years now, which we are very pleased about. Please tell us about ruf’s activities – and how you are expanding on an international level. Our source market is in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Benelux countries – however, our sales in Germany play a decisive role. Our main holiday destinations are in southern Europe with Spain and Italy being the most popular countries. However, Germany, Sweden and England are also traditional destinations for our company and there is an increasing interest in long haul holidays, e.g. to Australia and the USA. Do you feel enough is being done by receptive tourism professionals to cater for young people? If not, what should be taken into account? As a target group, young people and young adults are looking for completely different holiday options than those offered by traditional package holidays. They mostly see travel as a social event and their top priorities are getting to know new people, as well as experiencing a sense of community and adventure. A holiday with breakfast from 7 am just doesn’t fit in with this idea. What are the fastest growing destinations? In the youth travel sector, this is traditionally Spain, but Italy is becoming increasingly popular. Supervised long haul holidays are also becoming more of an option for young people. They say that travel “forms one’s youth”. How important is it for young people to get out and see the world, and what is the growth potential for this market? A supervised holiday for young people is always a group experience, a holiday with their peer group. This moulds their character and is a major step towards adulthood with more independence. Globalisation has made the world a smaller place. The number of holidays being taken, particularly by young people, is higher than it used to be. A huge potential exists for the market in this area, but it is important for holiday themes and ideas to be attractive to a young target group. How do you market your tours? We offer a mixture of different activities. We have noticed that many customers in our target group recommend us to others, which is important for us. Today’s young people can, of course, also be reached extremely well online via the Internet and social networks. With our different web pages, we have more than 80,000 fans on Facebook alone. The third pillar of our sales strategy is most definitely the travel agencies which we have always worked closely together with. About ruf ruf (ruf Reisen Gmbh) is a youth travel specialist and Europe’s most successful travel operator for accompanied holidays for children, young people and young adults. The specialized travel offers are all-in tours consisting of adventure, sporting events and cultural activities and are assisted by professional carers. The company was formed by Thomas Korbus (managed together with Burkhard Schmidt- Schönefeldt today as partner) in Bielefeld in 1981, together with leisure education students. Every year, over 80,000 young people aged between 8 and 25 years travel with ruf – a total of more than 1,000,000 holidaymakers since 1981. They head for 50 destinations across Europe, the uSA, Southafrica and Australia. In these countries, ruf customers have the possibility to travel to over 142 different club resorts, camps and hotels. At the locations, ruf offers a wide range of educationally sound activities including excursions, sports and cultural activities – all organized by trained ruf tour guides for the young guests. Hall 4.1 Stand 101 ITB BERLIN NEWS • Wednesday 27 th February 2013

GREEN PAGE 39 the r Word Getting the message across about responsible tourism While ITB Berlin is a forum for destinations and travel trends in general, one of the most important factors today that still remain to be “driven home” to the big operators is that of responsible tourism. Gopinath Parayil, founder of The Blue yonder, explains that while there is a lot of talk, most destinations and major tour operators have a long way to go on this journey… Gopinath Parayil Founder of The Blue Yonder There is a huge demand from individual travellers for “meaningful travel”, but the industry is not catering enough for this demand. An ordinary experience of a local person is an extraordinary experience for a traveller, and if you understand that this is at the heart of responsible travel, then it’s easy for the travel industry to respond to the market demand and create products and experiences that they can sell – and make good money. I am still surprised by the way people bandy about the term CSR, which has become pre-historic. CSR is designed in such a way that you make the profit, and once you have made the profit, you share a small amount of it for the betterment of society by donating it to an NGO. But this approach cannot be used in what we call responsible tourism, because you need to look at the economic benefit, reducing the damage to the environment, and conserving the social and cultural aspects of a destination; it’s a triple bottom-line approach. What is really important for the industry is that operators can actually make lots of money out of being responsible, but unfortunately, after all these years of talking about corporate responsibility, that message has not yet gone deeper into the mainstream industry. We need to start engaging larger companies. There are so many small companies that are islands of excellence, doing brilliant work, but they are too small; they are not in a position to make a major impact. So what we need to look at is how to bring the big tour operators – the ones that work with millions of travellers - on board. Some are trying small initiatives, but they are not enough to make a big change. The basic bottom-line of what I am saying is that we need to convince the trade that being responsible is profitable, and there is a clear business base for this. Please tell us more about the event you organise at ITB Berlin. For the past five years we have been organising an event called “Responsible Tourism Networking”, in Hall 4.1. At the event, this year on 8 th March, people who are involved in responsible tourism are invited to give a pitch about what they do in around two minutes… then the networking starts. It is also live streamed, so it can be watched around the world. We also have a big following on Facebook. In addition, we have asked people to send us inspiring stories from different destinations, and several of these will be shared during the event. Furthermore, we are organising three responsible tourism clinics, including the “A to Z of Responsible Travel”. This was designed because there is still a lot of confusion about “what the heck this responsible travel is about”. We want to demystify all the academic jargon and tell people in a language they understand. “A” may stand for Authenticity, “B” for Biodiversity… there’s a whole list. A lot of discussion is going on, especially on Facebook and Twitter with people defining what letters mean; so maybe “A” stands for something else. We are engaging the population, so rather than just defining something from our perspective, we are asking the public and the trade to define what it is. It’s a kind of crowd sourcing. In the end, it will be presented as a kind of art installation in Hall 4.1 – a banner with all the ideas on it, and on which people can add their ideas. This will give us a pattern of what is more important for people. Hall 4.1 Stand 201 (…) WE ArE OrGANIsING ThrEE rEsPONsIBLE TOUrIsM CLINICs, INCLUDING ThE “A TO Z OF rEsPONsIBLE TrAVEL”. The Blue yonder was set up in 2004 to support Nila Foundation, which was working to preserve a river civilisation in Central Kerala in India. Since then, they realised that networks outside the sphere of conventional tourism had much to teach the rest of the world on how one can in fact be part of a journey to build ‘Compassionate Destinations’. Realising the potential of how one can create wealth for communities and provide meaningful travel experiences for travellers, they started expanding their work to other parts of India, starting with Rajasthan. Now The Blue yonder offers holidays in many parts of India and South Africa, and “Gopi”, its founder, is heavily involved in events at ITB Berlin for the raising of awareness in this field. ITB BERLIN NEWS • Wednesday 27 th February 2013

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