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“Taking a gap year can be a great experience and one which helps you get the skills you need for higher education. Gap years cover loads of options, from travelling abroad to work or volunteer, retaking qualifications, or learning something new that hasn’t been an option before.”

-The UK Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS)

Report Introduction:

Although gap-year travel is a relatively new segment within the tourism industry, it has grown and diversified since the mid-1990s. This tourism genre is largely comprised of students – known as gap-year travellers, or ‘gappers’ – taking a year off from study between school and university. However, the definition has broadened in recent years to include graduates or postgraduates taking an extended break between completing university and entering the workforce, ‘career gappers’ taking time out during their working career, and ‘later-life gappers’ such as retirees who embark on a prolonged period of travel.

Similar to many other niche tourism segments, gap-year travel is difficult to measure in terms of both volume and value. The relatively small amount of research undertaken in this field has tended to be academic in focus and has concentrated primarily on the sociological and educational factors related to students taking a gap year.

The economic value of gapping is mostly derived from the length of stay in a country or destination. While gappers have a relatively low spend per day, the long duration of their trips means that total spend is usually well above the average for the destinations they visit. Gap travellers also tend to stay in locally run accommodation, buy locally produced goods and undertake activities with local service providers. Therefore, a greater percentage of each Pound, Dollar, Euro or whatever currency is being used remains in the country visited. This means that gap travellers are generally welcomed in the local communities they patronise.

The diversification of the gap travel segment has been supported and, arguably, partly driven, by the burgeoning of a gap-year travel industry. Both public- and private-sector organisations have recognised gap, or year-out, travel – with its close assimilation to the ‘backpacker’ and ‘working holiday’ travel markets – as a distinctive and significant part of the global tourism industry. Gappers are now actively targeted with a portfolio of products and services, ranging from specialist flight packages, work and volunteering placements, tours and activities to travel and medical insurance and a plethora of online and offline travel information and social-network promotional campaigns.

Australia and New Zealand are favoured gap-year destinations, particularly for travellers from the UK, the US and Europe, and the two respective tourism boards have expended considerable marketing energy, creativity and finance to promote their destination’s variety of travel, work and volunteering options available to gap-year travellers. 


Liqueurs - UK - January 2012

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Introduction

    • Data Sources

      • Overview

          • History and background
            • The evolution of gap-year travel
              • Late-1980s to late 2000s
                • Reasons for taking a gap year
                  • Developmental factors
                    • UK government gap-year information and research
                      • Changing university attitudes
                        • Post-university gapping
                          • Career and later-life gap travel
                            • The tech-powered modern gapper
                                • Figure 1: Items booked on the Internet before a trip to Australia, year ending june 2012
                              • History of Australia and New Zealand as gap destinations
                              • Gap Year Market Influences

                                • Measuring gap-year travel in the UK
                                  • Figure 2: Accepted applicants at UK universities deferring for one year, 2003/04-2012/13
                                • The impact of changes to university pricing
                                  • Figure 3: Total applications to UK universities by age, 2012-13
                                • Gap-year travel options
                                  • Backpacking versus structured gap-year travel
                                    • Industry insight: Richard Oliver, chief executive, Year Out Group
                                      • Industry insight: Macca Sherifi, travel editor,
                                        • Increased coverage in the mainstream UK media
                                          • Gap-year travel and the US media
                                          • Market Facilitators

                                            • The burgeoning gap-year industry
                                              • Gap travel suppliers
                                                • Gap-year expos and trade shows
                                                  • WYSTC 2013
                                                    • Year Out Expo
                                                      • TNT Travel Show
                                                        • The Telegraph Adventure Travel Show
                                                          • Futurewise Career & Gap Year Fairs
                                                            • US gap-year fairs
                                                              • The gap-year guide market
                                                                • Online gapping
                                                                • Australasia as a Gap-Year Destination

                                                                  • Australia
                                                                    • Geography
                                                                      • Tourism showcase
                                                                        • Gap-year favourite destinations/activities/tours
                                                                          • Factors impacting gap travel
                                                                            • Air access
                                                                              • Currency exchange rate
                                                                                • Figure 4: Value of Australian Dollar versus leading currencies, 1 January 2003-13
                                                                              • Transport
                                                                                • Accommodation
                                                                                  • Gap-year market and tourism promotion
                                                                                    • Industry insight: Paul Murray, business development manager, destination development, industry development, Tourism Australia
                                                                                      • Visa requirements
                                                                                        • Gap-year working holidays
                                                                                          • Tourism forecast
                                                                                            • Figure 5: International leisure visitor arrivals to Australia from key markets, financial year 2000-16
                                                                                            • Figure 6: Origin of youth-travel arrivals to Australia from key markets, year ending september 2012
                                                                                          • New Zealand
                                                                                            • Geography
                                                                                              • Tourism showcase
                                                                                                • Gap-year favourite destinations
                                                                                                  • Factors impacting gap-year travel
                                                                                                    • Air access
                                                                                                      • Currency exchange rate
                                                                                                        • Figure 7: Value of New Zealand Dollar versus leading currencies, 1 January 2003-13
                                                                                                      • Transport
                                                                                                        • Accommodation
                                                                                                          • Figure 8: Total guest nights in New Zealand spent in backpacker accommodation, 2003-12
                                                                                                        • Gap-year market and tourism promotion
                                                                                                          • Industry Insight: Justin Watson, general manager, marketing communications, Tourism New Zealand
                                                                                                            • Visa requirements
                                                                                                              • Gap-year working holidays
                                                                                                                • Tourism forecast
                                                                                                                  • Figure 9: New Zealand tourism arrivals from key markets, 2007-12
                                                                                                                  • Figure 10: Key characteristics of visitors to New Zealand from the UK, 2008-12
                                                                                                              • What Next?

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