Over 6 million people joined study tours last year, higher than pre-pandemic level
Students join a study tour in Guangzhou, March 4, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
The China Tourism Academy released a report on Monday saying that education tourism has become popular among people of all ages.
More than 6 million people joined study tours last year, higher even than the pre-pandemic number of 4.8 million in 2019, according to the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the National People's Congress.
"The key difference between study travel and other tourism products is that study travel focuses on learning knowledge while traveling," Luo Shugang, director of the committee, said at a forum on Monday.
He said that study travel can be dated back to the Song (960-1279) and Ming dynasties (1368-1644), when many poets wrote of their experiences on study travels.
"The nation formed an industry for study travel during the period of reform and opening-up, which has seen rapid development in the past decade," he said, adding that students in primary and middle schools are so far the main participants in education tourism.
Dai Bin, president of the Chinese Tourism Academy, said at the forum that the development of education tourism has promoted the social education of primary and middle school students, which has also played an important role in blending culture and tourism.
He suggested that China establish national campsites for study travel at places with beautiful natural views and rich cultural heritage.
However, according to Luo, the committee director, the nation's education tourism still faces problems in its development, such as having a weak connection with the national curriculum, and fewer practice opportunities during trips.
"The market supervision is far behind the development of education tourism due to a lack of State-level market entry requirements. The domestic education tourism market is still in its infancy with many different entities like travel agencies and consultancies pouring into the market.
"The urgent task for government bodies is to help maintain the industry's good momentum of development while forming and implementing requirements or standards to tighten up the market supervision," he said.
Xu Huayu, president of Anhui Global Culture Tourism Group, said that a shortage of talent also hampers the development of education tourism.
"Many people involved in education tourism are those who used to work for travel agencies, and some people just take it as a business. It's necessary to produce more professional study travel guides and recruit talent to develop curriculums that will be used during the study travels," he said.
"We also need a State-level standard to help us better set up recruiting requirements and training for employees."