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Care Free, If Not Career Free, Traveling

Heading to Tokyo 20-Mar-2007

Backpackers will soon lose their tag of free-spirited wanderers if a recent study from HostelBookers.com is representative of a wider trend amongst young people.

The low-cost accommodation company has seen notable increases in students and first year graduates spending time in China and Southeast Asia, with many citing career reasons for their choice of travel destination.

Accommodation bookings for the region, through HostelBookers.com, have increased at the rate of 900 percent since 2006 - four times the growth rate for all other destinations. This trend mimics that of students choosing Beijing and other universities in the region to gain their degrees.

But while not all wish to commit in excess of 3 years to living in a foreign country, increasingly, those with a long-term focus are recognising the benefits of understanding the cultures that will present the business opportunities over the coming decades.

The study by HostelBookers.com looked at budget travelers who were planning to spend time in the region or those who had visited within the last two years. All respondents were asked to rate their primary reason for choosing the area, with 26 percent wanting to ‘gain a better understanding of the language/culture for career development’.

The fact that young people are choosing to travel in order to make themselves more employable is beneficial to both the individual and the companies they join. China and the Southeast Asia are booming economies and it draws parallels with the need to understand Japanese language and culture in the 1980s; any responsibility that individuals can take to bridge the knowledge gap is a positive.

David Smith, HostelBookers.com General Manager, said: “Between leaving ‘official’ education and starting a career is a very popular time in life for people to start globe-trotting. However, the notion of travelers as simply drifting backpackers is becoming increasingly dated.

Many now see the benefit of how a wider cultural understanding can provide a firm career footing and set them apart in employers’ minds when applying for jobs. As employers of many graduates, the ability to show self-sufficiency and global awareness is certainly something we regard highly when screening candidates.”