Educational tourism also called as edu-tourism is a sub type of the travel and tourism sector. Educational tourism could be referred to as an approach for pursuing education, carrying out research activities and knowledge acquisition. This sector is acquiring popularity these days and is a fast growing sub-sector in the travel and tourism industry. As far as academics are concerned, this sector has vast scope and is changing the dynamics of the sector constantly; it is more of a perspective type of tourism. Educational tourism is also called by other names such as job development, career enhancement or self-actualisation experience. The idea is that apart from self-improvement, travel can be relaxation, learning can be more fun than ever and there is no age bar restricting people from learning by travelling (this does not include people who wish to travel for educational purposes but are unable to travel due to health problems).
Educational cruises, school trips, seminar vacations, study abroad experiences and self enhancement vacations are few examples of educational tourism. Knowledge can be imparted in a much better manner apart from sitting in one corner and reading books. Practicality is far better than theory. Educational tourism does not depend upon weather; a proper infrastructure should be in place and you are good to go! The main focus is to apply the knowledge and skills learnt within the classroom environment in a totally diverse environment, like the “International Practicum Training Program”. The structure of educational tourism recognises three aspects – the science of tourism, the science of education and the aspects of the external environment. Implementation of educational excursions that provide good opportunities for the development of students by enhancing their research and observation skills to broaden their experience is the most popular from of educational tourism. It helps in developing a scientific approach towards the world and a responsible and conscious attitude towards nature and the environment.
Educational Tourism: Fuelling Aspects and Trends
The current scenario of education is on a better scale. The concept of informal learning is more appreciated than formal learning. The increasing awareness and importance of education is driving the education industry towards growth. New education styles, new information and research techniques and good exposure to science has enabled the growth of the educational scenario across the world. This is the main aspect that fuels the growth of the educational tourism sector, owing to the advantages of “education with travel”. The thirst for knowledge has also increased thereby encouraging people to travel across the globe to gain knowledge of different concepts and technologies that they had studied earlier. This propels the spread of educational tourism across the world. Moreover, individuals try to enhance their technical knowhow and competency outside the classroom environment. They opt for travelling to other regions, meeting people with experience and knowledge and grasping information as and when possible. This adds to the growth of the educational tourism sector.
Educational tourism generally involves study tours. In the tourism industry, it is considered as the most advanced form of travel. This can be attributed to knowledge acquisition and skills enhancement. Lifelong learning, learning with fun and self-improvement are the common aspects between the “many” forms of educational tourism. The various forms or new trends in educational tourism include school excursions, student exchange programs, senior seminars and environmental tourism.
Educational Tourism: Challenges
For every gain there is always a spend associated with it. Despite being a fast growing sector in the tourism industry, there are certain challenges that could limit the spread of the educational tourism sector. Political changes can have adverse effects on this sector. Moreover, a bigger challenge is to maintain the quality of education and learning, the involvement of high costs needed for the establishment of research facilities and lack of government support. The sole purpose of this type of tourism is to give equal chance to people of any age, religion, class or society/nationality.
Educational Tourism: Worldwide Presence
United States can be given the first rank with regards to education as it provides and strives to maintain the best educational facilities, encourages educational tours and spends on quality learning and research. United Kingdom comes second followed by Australia. Germany, France and Japan are also excelling in the educational tourism sector, but they face a major common problem – the language barrier. Developing countries have shown reasonable growth in this sector.
Educational Tourism: Organisational Support
Global travel companies anticipate a lucrative growth in the educational tourism sector. Though nascent in certain areas of the world, many travel companies are conducting educational tours, thereby promoting the importance of education and contributing to the growth of the educational tourism sector. Companies such as Exodus Travels, Intrepid, Topdeck, Bright spark, Globus Student Discoveries, World Strides, American Council for International Studies (ACIS) and Lindblad Expeditions are emphasising on student enhancement through educational tours by imparting technical as well as environmental knowledge.
The educational tourism sector might become a big educational paradigm, adding value to the society by increasing the level of education and generating new economic opportunities. Educational tourism will also give equal chance to the ageing population as education has no barriers with respect to age. The content of educational tours and expeditions should necessarily be subject oriented and result oriented providing people with a full knowledge pack.
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