Destination Marketing: The Untapped Potential of University Cities

At ITB Berlin 2016 leading stakeholders demonstrated the impact of youth travel on destinations. The Class of 2020 was asked to organise one of the sessions, making the connection about the impact of youth mobility on university cities.

The session that was led by Frank Uffen, Founder of The Class of 2020 and Partnership Director of The Student Hotel, provided a better understanding of the connections between higher education and youth travel within the framework of opportunity. According to Vetrak, who co-presented the Panel, the current number of 4.5m international higher education students is expected to climb to 6 million by 2020 and generate an economic impact of $132bn. Vetrak also pointed out how international students contribute to tourism growth and city development – generating additional visitation (visiting friends and family and as returning visitors), contribution to the social fabric of the city and bringing further benefits as prospective residents.

Some of the questions Uffen addressed included, “what kind of strategies can cities apply to compete in this increasingly growing and international higher education market?” and, “how does one work with other partners in a city, to create a stronger and more competitive offering?” He further highlighted research and best practices from destinations such as Copenhagen, Glasgow, Rotterdam or Vienna as an inspiration for other cities who might not be taking advantage of the connection between higher education and youth travel.

From the left: Frank Uffen, Emil Spangenberg, Kim Heinen, Karl Wöber, Rachel Sandison and Samuel Vetrak










“As we’re changing into a new economy, we need new capital and we need young people that are interested in technical entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Kim Heinen, International Press Officer at Rotterdam Partners


“Together with the other universities and the city of Glasgow we really want to promote the benefits of the city as a whole; it’s so much easier and so much richer to act collaboratively.”

Rachel Sandison, Director – Marketing, Recruitment & International at University of Glasgow


“We work with international students who have been to Copenhagen for 3 months or 6 months and do network activities and put them together in groups – we can actually use them as a communication tool and as representatives of the city.”

Emil Spangenberg, Director of Marketing and Communication at Wonderful Copenhagen


“In Austria the private universities are gaining market share year by year. In contrast to the public universities we actually charge students for studying, we attract students, we liaise with the tourism offices in order to attract students.”

Karl Wöber, Professor of Tourism and Rector at MODUL University


The panel was composed of:

Rachel Sandison, Director – Marketing, Recruitment & International | University of Glasgow

Emil Spangenberg, Director of Marketing and Communication | Wonderful Copenhagen

Karl Wöber, Professor of Tourism and Rector | MODUL University

Kim Heinen, International Press Officer | Rotterdam Partners


Watch the video here:

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