Youth tourism is not engaging well enough with the international student market and missing a range of opportunities from short breaks to visiting friends and relatives (VFR) business, according to a leading academic study.
Griffith University Professor Michael Davidson told delegates at the BOA NSW talk in Sydney yesterday many international students invite friends and family to Australia at graduation time: “Yet how many packages do you see for people bringing parents over from China for example?”
Presenting the “International Education Visitation Tourism Opportunities” report, Griffith University researcher Sarah Gardiner said there were four key untapped tourism opportunities: motivating international students to travel during their studies, recruiting them as advocates for Australia, future repeat visitors and attracting VFR.
A national online survey of 5991 international students in Australia found almost 85 per cent travel during their studies, most taking short breaks of less than four nights (62 per cent) and travelling with friends or relatives (77 per cent). While many stay in hotel/motels or holiday apartments (67 per cent), a significant proportion stay in a backpacker hostel (22 per cent) with European and North American students the most likely to do so.
“This is very much a group market, not the lone independent traveller you would associate with the backpacking sector and you need to think about that when tailoring packages,” said Gardiner.
However, she warned it can be difficult to gain access to students: “It’s not about an individual operator knocking on the door of the university, we need a structural change at a higher level. Getting access to students is key and we need to think of an industry-wide way of doing that.”
Colourful Trips director Brett Eldershaw said it was crucial to commit fully to the market to be successful and to target students before they arrive in Australia.
“It’s easier to sell students things before they leave their home country as they are overwhelmed when they get here,” he added.
International student placement service IDP Education marketing director Julian Longbottom said more than 25 per cent of student expenditure is tourism related, with students spending an average $3,945 on tourism product during their studies.
To view Julian Longbottom’s presentation, click here.