Hostelling International

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Hostelling International
Abbreviation HI
Formation 1932
Legal status Charity
Purpose Accommodation for backpackers across the world
Region served
Youth Hostel members
Affiliations YHA (England & Wales), SYHA, YHA Australia, American Youth Hostels, HINI, HI - Canada, An Óige
Website Hostelling International
Hostelling Int'l, Washington D.C.

Hostelling International (HI), formerly known as International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF), is the federation of more than 70 National Youth Hostel Associations in more than 80 countries which have over 4,000 affiliated hostels around the world. Hostelling International is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation working closely with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO and the World Tourism Organisation UNWTO. HI has also been identified as the sixth largest provider of travel accommodations in the world.

Origins of youth hostelling and IYHF[edit]

The youth hostel movement began in 1909 when Richard Schirrmann, a German schoolteacher, and Wilhelm Münker, a conservationist, saw the need for overnight accommodation for school groups wanting to experience the countryside.[1] This started with schools being used during the holidays. The first Jugendherberge (youth hostel) opened in Schirrmann's own school, in Altena, Westphalia. In 1912 a permanent hostel in Altena Castle superseded the school-building, and as of 2013 a hostel still stands in the castle grounds. Schirrmann founded the nationwide German Youth Hostel Association in 1919.

The movement spread rapidly worldwide, leading to the founding of the International Youth Hostel Federation (IYHF) on 20 October 1932 [2] in Amsterdam by representatives from associations in Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Britain, Ireland, France and Belgium. In 1933 Richard Schirrmann became the president, but the German Government forced him to resign by in 1936.[3]

Youth hostels originally differed in setup from other modern hostels, although the growing popularity of the backpacker culture forced them to adapt so as not to lose customers, most notably abandoning the idea of chores in all but a few of their locations. The youth hostels in the United States, started by Monroe Smith, (where backpackers have not made as much of an impact as elsewhere) are still closest to the original setup.[citation needed]

Modern organisation[edit]

The main building of an HI hostel in Marina di Massa, Tuscany

Seventy-one National Youth Hostel Associations are members of Hostelling International,[4] with over 4000 hostels available worldwide. Based in Welwyn Garden City in England opposite the train station and the Howard Centre, the organisation provides services for travellers and coordinates the national organisations. It also facilitates youth work and international and cross cultural understanding in conjunction with UNESCO. Hostelling International celebrated its 80th Anniversary in 2012, with the first International Conference being held in the YMCA hotel in Amsterdam on 20 October 1932. 11 National Associations were present at this Conference and agreement was reached on a standard international pattern for membership cards and on minimum standards for the equipment and supervision of Youth Hostels. Founders had a strong desire that by working together Associations could assist international youth travel and pave the way for new and peaceful migration of people. Since 1946 the HI network of Youth Hostels has recorded over 1.6 billion overnights.

Though the parent Hostelling International organization has charity status in the UK, not all member organizations have charity/nonprofit status. Hostelling International Canada lost a legal battle for charity status in 2008,[5][6] and the YHA in England/Wales considered becoming a commercial company during a 2005 consultation [7] partially in response to increased competition from independent for-profit hostels.


With nearly four million members, HI is one of the world’s largest youth membership organisation and is the only global network of Youth Hostel associations.

Hi5ives Hostel Awards[edit]

HI-5ives! are awarded at the annual Hostel Managers Meeting. Categories include: Best Hostel, Most Comfortable Hostel, Friendliest Hostel and Best Country. In 2012 HI introduced the Green Award for the most eco-friendly hostel in the network. Award categories are based on rating received during a 12-month period, from 1 November to 31 October next year. During those 12 months, a minimum of five customer ratings on average per month was required to qualify and a hostel can only win one award category each year.

Mission and public benefit[edit]

Many National Associations host youth rallies, run activity programmes for disadvantaged children and coordinate volunteer and exchange programmes. The international network of HI hostels enables people, but particularly the young, of different nationalities, cultures and social backgrounds to meet informally, share experiences and to learn about themselves, each other and their surroundings. HI refer to the public benefit guidance given by the Charity Commission when evaluating aims and objectives.

Hostelling International defines its mission as:-

To promote the education of all young people of all nations, but especially young people of limited means, by encouraging in them a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside and an appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities in all parts of the world, and as ancillary thereto to provide hostels or other accommodation in which there shall be no distinction of race, nationality, colour, religion, sex, class, or political opinions and thereby to develop a better understanding of their fellow men, both at home and abroad.[8]


HI encourages members and National Associations to employ sustainable tourism practices and is committed to achieving a worldwide network of sustainable organisations and hostels. To ensure aligned and effective action, HI has implemented a number of very demanding initiatives across the network, and is continuing to develop in terms of sustainability.

Overall, 298 hostels have been identified as awarded environmental or Sustainability certification during 2012. It means that 7.9% of HI Network is certified.

Netherlands is the first National Association to be 100% hostel certified by the European Label.

There are 44 National Sustainability Coordinators.

First sustainability survey[edit]

In 2012, HI carried out a survey in order to monitor specifically how the network was changing and adapting to become more environmentally friendly. The research, which included data from hostels in 18 different countries that receive more than 3.3 million overnights annually, was very insightful and will continue to help us develop the sustainable network. Local interaction with hostels was shown to be high with 52% of hostels providing quality budget accommodation to travellers as well as having interactive initiatives with the local community. These projects often enable travellers to interact and grasp a better understanding of the area they are visiting. The tourism industry represents 76% of total global emissions. Hostels are working to counteract this and 74% of our hostels provide comprehensive information and actively promote the use of public transport to guests, or give discounts to those arriving to the hostel by bicycle or foot. Another scheme to reduce emissions is growing vegetables on site, which 16% of all hostels surveyed are now doing.

HI Sustainability Fund[edit]

In April 2012 the HI Sustainability Fund was launched. Customers got the option of making a voluntary contribution towards the HI Sustainability Fund when making a booking. The grant is for the purpose of special projects relating to the HI Sustainability Fund that has been established from online donations from members and guests which have been given with the main purpose of reducing the carbon emissions of hostels or to fund other projects related to sustainability.

HI member associations[edit]

Organisations that operate hostels providing budget accommodation committed to defined standards within a particular country or region of a country. Most countries have a single National Association to represent the interests of all affiliated hostels, but some countries have multiple associations covering different regions or operate as a federation of regional associations.

HI Member Associations
Country Association
Algeria Fédération Algérienne des Auberges de Jeunesse
Argentina Hostelling International Argentina
Australia YHA Australia
Austria Österreichischer Jugendherbergsverband Hauptverband (ÖJHV)
Austria Österreichisches Jugendherbergswerk (ÖJHW)
Bahrain Bahrain Youth Hostels Society
Belgium Les Auberges de Jeunesse (LAJ)
Belgium Vlaamse Jeugdherbergen vzw (VJH)
Bolivia Hostelling International Bolivia
Brazil Federaçao Brasileira dos Albergues da Juventude
Canada Hostelling International - Canada
Chile Asociación Chilena de Albergues Turisticos Juveniles
China YHA China
Croatia Hrvatski Ferijalni i Hostelski Savez (Croatian YHA)
Czech Republic Czech Youth Hostel Association (CZYHA)
Egypt Egyptian Youth Hostels Association
England and Wales Youth Hostels Association (England & Wales)
Estonia Estonian Youth Hostels Association
Finland Suomen Hostellijärjestö (Hostelling International Finland)
France Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (FUAJ)
Germany DJH Hauptverband
Hong Kong Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association
Hungary Magyarországi Ifjúsági Szállások Szövetsége (Hungarian YHA)
Iceland HI Iceland
India Youth Hostels Association of India
Northern Ireland Hostelling International-Northern Ireland
Republic of Ireland An Óige (Irish Youth Hostel Association)
Israel Israel Youth Hostels Association
Italy Associazione Italiana Alberghi per la Gioventù (AIG)
Japan Japan Youth Hostels Inc.
Jordan Jordan Youth Hostels Commission
Kenya Kenya Youth Hostels Association
Republic of Korea Hostelling International Korea
Kuwait Kuwait Youth Hostel Committee
Lebanon Lebanese Youth Hostels Federation
Libya Libyan Youth Hostel Association
Lithuania Lithuanian Hostels Association
Luxembourg Centrale des Auberges de Jeunesse Luxembourgeoises
Macedonia Macedonian Youth Hostel Association
Malaysia Hostelling International Malaysia
Malta NSTS Hostelling International
Mexico Hostelling International Mexico
Morocco Fédération Royale Marocaine des Auberges de Jeunes
Netherlands Stayokay
New Zealand YHA New Zealand
Norway Norske Vandrerhjem – HI Norway
Pakistan Pakistan Youth Hostels Association
Peru Administradora Peruana de Albergues
Philippines Youth and Student Hostel Foundation of the Philippines
Poland Polskie Towarzystwo Schronisk Młodzieżowych (Polish Youth Hostel Association)
Portugal Movijovem
Qatar Qatar Youth Hostels Association
Russia Youth Hostels Association of Russia
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian Youth Hostels Association
Scotland Scottish Youth Hostels Association
Serbia Ferijalni i Hostelski savez Srbije (Youth Hostels Association of Serbia)
Singapore Hostelling International Singapore
Slovenia PZS – Hostelling International Slovenia
Spain Red Española de Albergues Juveniles (REAJ)
Sudan Sudanese Youth Hostels Association
Sweden Svenska Turistföreningen
Switzerland Schweizer Jugendherbergen
Taiwan Chinese Taipei Youth Hostel Association
Thailand Thai Youth Hostels Association
Tunisia Association Tunisienne des Auberges de Tourisme de Jeunes
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Youth Hostel Association
Uruguay Asociación de Alberguistas del Uruguay
United States Hostelling International USA
Vietnam Vietnam Hostelling International

HI associate organisations[edit]

Organisations which have not yet been granted full membership of HI.

HI Associate Organizations
Country Associate
Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth Hostel Association of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria Bulgarian Youth Hostel Association
Colombia Hostelling International Youth Hostels in Colombia
Estonia Eesti Noortehostelite Ühendus (Estonian Youth Hostels Association)
Latvia Latvian Youth Hostel Association
Nepal Nepal Youth Hostel Council
Slovakia Slovenska Asociacia Hotelov pre Mladez - Slovak National Youth Hostel Association
Syria The Youth Tourism Organization (Syrian Youth Hostels Association)
Ukraine Hostelling International Youth Hostels in Ukraine

See also[edit]




  • Coburn, Oliver. Youth Hostel Story. London: National Council of Social Service, 1950
  • Grassl, Anton and Heath, Graham. The Magic Triangle: a short history of the world youth hostel movement. [S.l.]: International Youth Hostel Federation, 1982
  • Heath, Graham. Richard Schirrmann, the first youth hosteller. Copenhagen : International Youth Hostel Federation, 1962

External links[edit]