Educational tourism, or edu-tourism/education tourism, is a gaining popularity as a new trend in the global tourism world.
According to academics the concept of educational tourism is broad in scope and it has been constantly changing as the concept of tourism itself.
Education tourism is a traveling activity undertaken by those, whom education and learning are the primary purpose of their trip. In other words, the main objective of traveling is to obtain knowledge on certain subject, rather than the experience of traveling itself.
Historically, we know, that what we define as tourism today started originally in form of educational trips, excursions and discovery cruises.
Although there is no clearly defined classification of education tourism, we can identify four major types:
1. Youth Traveling
It involves school excursions, youth exchange and other travel programs designed with the purpose of creating learning environment for children and teenagers, such as visiting historical, cultural and educational sites, camps and also may involve traveling abroad to visit certain destinations.
2. Higher Education Tourism
Higher Education tourism, or study mobility, can be divided into two types: participation in international full-time study programme or exchange programme.
International Study Programmes
More and more students around the world are deciding to complete their degree in a different country. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the number of students enrolled in higher education outside their country of citizenship has been doubled over past decades (between 2000 and 2011) and it is around 4.5 million students at the present.
Student Exchange Programmes
Due to the various higher education reforms and introduction of European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) university students have an opportunity to study abroad for one or two semesters while still being enrolled at their home universities. Exchange Programmes include all kinds of mobility programmes designed for students, such as internship programmes, sports, competitions and summer schools.
3. Seminar Travels
It is important to differentiate between usual seminars and edu-tourism seminars. Edu-tourism seminars have mobility and traveling aspect with the primary purpose of providing the knowledge for participants, who are less familiar with the subject. Participants of such seminars are people of any age, eager to gain knowledge from experts on particular subject. Traveling is not restricted within the borders of domestic country and may involve international transfers to the seminar place. Topics of the seminars may vary starting from marketing policy identification and ending with an analysis of historical books. Organization of seminars is undertaken by a company or tour provider, which brings together experts and learners in one common place.
4. Language Schools
For foreign language learners today it became even more important to learn language in a country, where it is spoken, to have a chance to directly interact with native speakers. There are a lot of language schools offered in the world, which involve not only language learning, but also city excursions and tours around the country.
Mobility trend in education brings new opportunities to the whole tourism industry stakeholders in form of emergence of new market niche and players, such as education tour operators, which apart from classical tour planning will have to add educational content to the tours.
According to the report of the World Youth Student and Educational Travel Confederation, young travellers represent 20% of international tourism. The demand for educational tourism is vast and growing every year.
Education tourism can become a major educational paradigm in near future, creating value in the society both in form of increasing education level and creating new economic opportunities as a result of gained knowledge due to traveling. Moreover, education tourism will provide a platform for life learning education for all people without age difference.
The content of education trips and tours, thus, needs to be result oriented, giving people full knowledge-package, which they can use later and achieve certain results. The concept of education will gradually change with alternative education methods offered in form of educational tourism.
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