Hostelling International

From ArticleWorld

Hostelling International is a federation of over 90 national youth hostel associations spread across 80 countries. It was formerly known as the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF). The federation runs over 4500 youth hostels and youth hotels all over the globe.

The pioneer of the youth hostel movement was a German schoolteacher by the name of Richard Schirrmann. He recognized the need for places offering overnight accommodation to school groups who came to enjoy the countryside. It all began in 1909 when the school buildings were used for providing accommodation during holidays. The first youth hostel or Jugendherberge was started in Schirrmann’s own school in Altena, Westphalia. A permanet hostel was made in 1912 in the Altena castle. The nation – wide German Youth Hostel Association was established by him in 1919.

This movement spread from Germany and gained immediate popularity worldwide. In UK, the rambling, cycling and youth organizations came together to form the The Youth Hostels Association of Great Britain. Iiit later separated in 1930 – 1931 to form separate organiszations in Scotland (SYHA), England and Wales (YHA) and Ireland.

The first international body was established in Amsterdam on 20th October, 1932 and named The International Youth Hostel Federation. It was founded jointly by the associations from Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, Norway, Ireland, France and Czechoslovakia. Richard Schirmann was voted Chairman in 1933 but was forced to step down in 1936 by the Nazis.

The earlier youth hostels were very different from modern hostels. In order to maintain backpackers as customers, they have adapted and done away with the idea of chores. The youth hostels in USA, however, still are closest to the original establishments as backpackers are not very common there.

The youth hostels not only provide accomodation to travellers but also co-orinate with other national organisations. Iiit promotes international understanding and facilitates youth work. They are headquartered in Welwyn Garden City outside London.