What is Educational Tourism; Educational is one of the best types of tourism. Whether on a school trip, backpacking through Southeast Asia, or cruising around the world, there’s always plenty to learn while traveling. Whereas before people were content to lie on the beach and read a book, consumer preferences are changing: people want to experience something different, they want adventure, excitement, and education.
What many people do not know is that educational tourism is all around us. Whether in a formal or informal context, most trips include an educational element. But how does this work and what does it mean for the travel industry? In this article on buzzbongo, we will explain what exactly the term educational tourism means, how it is produced and where it is most frequently found, listing some examples. We will also talk about the numerous advantages of educational tourism, both for the tourist and for the tourism industry.
What is Educational Tourism?
The world is the school itself. When most people hear the term “ educational tourism ”, they think of school trips to places like Auschwitz or Oradour-Sur-Glane. Or they think they are educational vacations for adults, like learning to scuba dive in the Galapagos or learning to cook in Thailand. However, educational tourism is much more than that. It is everywhere!
Since the origins of tourism, the educational benefit of travel has been recognized. There is now a plethora of ‘study abroad options available to those interested and the informal educational attributes of travel, for example when doing volunteer tourism internships, gap years, or backpacking, are indisputable.
However, despite the common reference to the educational benefits of travel, educational tourism appears to be under-researched as an academic topic. The literature surrounding educational tourism seems to be sporadically scattered across many fields of study and, ironically, this concept so commonly identified as a benefit or motivation for tourism activities has received little scholarly attention to date. This has given rise to many unanswered questions, such as: what do travelers learn?
Definition of Educational Tourism
Due to the lack of literature addressing the concept of educational tourism, there are few attempts to draw definitional boundaries that explain what constitutes an educational tour. Some authors base themselves on the definitions of tourism and the parameters of educational tourism and conclude that an educational tourist is:
A person spending a night away from their home city or country, where education and learning are the main reason for their trip or where education and learning are secondary reasons, but are perceived as an important use of time free.
An important point is underlined here. Education can be the main motive for tourism, but it can also be a secondary motive for tourism. We would like to take this one step further and also propose that education may not be perceived as a relevant part of a journey, but in fact, it is. We call this consequent education in tourism.
Understanding the Concept of Educational Tourism
Understanding what educational tourism is is important for travel agents in the tourism industry. Tourists want to learn. They may not want a formal learning environment while on vacation, but most people are curious about new places and new cultures. People enjoy learning how elephants are cared for at elephant sanctuaries in Thailand and want to know more about how spices are harvested at Goa’s spice plantation, for example.
Some authors state that researchers and managers in the tourism sector need to better understand the nature of learning in tourism and leisure contexts. Educational tourism is big business, bigger than most people think. And the potential for tourism businesses is enormous. Understanding the concept of educational tourism can help inform business plans, marketing, consumer satisfaction, and much more.
Types of Educational Tourism and Examples
Educational tourism comes in many different shapes and sizes. Educational tourism is a macro niche of tourism, which is subsequently found within many different types of tourism. Types of tourism that commonly facilitate educational tourism include:
- Cultural tourism.
- Black tourism or thanatotourism.
- Business tourism.
- Gastronomic tourism.
- Volunteer tourism.
- Special interest in tourism.
Education meets is tourism in many different aspects. It can be in a formal or informal context (or somewhere in between). Yes, sometimes educational tourism is obvious to everyone, but other times it is subtle. So subtle that even the tourist may not realize that he is an “ educational tourist ”.
Educational tourism can be divided into three segments. The first is a university, college, and school tourism, in which the tourism experience is secondary to formal learning and can be described as ‘education first’. The second is edu-tourism, defined as general travel for education and known as “tourist first.” In addition, there is also a third classification: the consequent educational trips.
Below we will explain what each of them means to better understand what educational tourism is.
Education first tourism is the best-known form of educational tourism. However, it is less common than the other two types of educational tourism. This type of educational tourism is the most formal and can take various forms. Some examples are:
- Study abroad at college or university.
- Attend a boarding school abroad.
- Language exchange programs.
- Take a course abroad, for example, to learn a language, cooking, art, etc.
- Educational school trips.
- Guide/scout trips, etc.
- schooling in the world.
- Cultural immersion, for example by working as an au pair.
Many people choose to study abroad because they are looking for a new experience or because it provides them with opportunities that are not available in their country. With the student having a predetermined date of return home, studying abroad can be considered a tourist experience. Students are also likely to engage in tourist activities during their free time.
Studying abroad has been proven to make a significant contribution to learning and is now standard practice in schools, colleges, and universities. Studying abroad is best defined as learning through experience abroad. This is due to the difficulty in determining whether the benefits and outcomes of studying abroad are the results of travel, interaction with other cultures, classroom study, or a combination.
The “tourist first” experience is when learning is acquired through tourist experiences outside the classroom. This can take many different forms. For example, it can be learning about the history of the Long Neck tribe in Thailand during an excursion or visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo during a tour of Egypt.
Some have identified educational tourism as a form of lifelong learning. Language teaching abroad is similar to lifelong learning in that the experience consists of formal and informal learning, whether in a classroom setting or learning ‘on the job’, self-motivated learning, as they are likely to have chosen to carry out their language teaching placements and self-financed learning because many are likely to have financed the travel and placement through their means. An increasing number of people in Western society seem to have a growing appetite for lifelong learning, and this may lead one to assume that the taste for educational tourism will increase in the future.
Consequent education in travel
We continue with the third type within what is educational tourism. More and more research shows that most learning takes place outside the formalities of the educational system. The last two decades have seen an exponential increase in the amount of learning that stems from self-directed experiences on the Internet or as part of leisure activities.
Some authors describe travel as a type of educational institution since the experiences and knowledge acquired represent a kind of parallelism with formal education at school or university. Indeed, travel offers one of the few opportunities outside of formal education for non-professional learning about other times, places, and people. An example of this type of learning is demonstrated in gap year travel, as many return home claim to have developed intellectually as a result of their experiences, with personal growth and increased life skills being areas of most notable development. Others have reported learning “generic skills” while backpacking,
Studies of volunteer tourism have highlighted its educational benefits and ability to foster self-reflection and the evolution of personality traits and behaviors. Those involved in international travel are also known to develop skills such as problem-solving, time management, and communication. Although the “curriculum” of this informal learning may not be well organized, there is a lot of information to process and travelers are likely to gain new skills and perspectives as a result.
Another emerging type of education acquired through travel is the concept of global schooling. Global schooling is essentially a means of providing and finding real-world education. It provides families with the opportunity to travel for a long time and allows their children to learn through their experiences. Global schooling removes predefined teachers, classrooms, schools, and curricula and allows children to learn through the environments, cultures, climates, histories, and societies they naturally encounter on their travels.
To further underscore the value of consistent education through travel, some authors rely on a quote from a Ford Motor Company graduate recruitment announcement stating that
Degrees get students a job, but skills determine success.
This shows that it is the combination of learning from institutions and formal qualifications and personal experience that is likely to help the individual to be most successful in their chosen career path.
How does Educational Tourism Work?
To explain what educational tourism is and demonstrate the relationship between travel and learning, it is necessary to draw on some of the fundamental theories used in the analysis of learning and education. Some authors refer to existential learning, stating that it can be used as a model to explain how to learn while traveling.
Existential learning is essentially a form of education that occurs as a result of learners discovering knowledge for themselves, usually as a result of personal experiences, and can be defined as ‘meaningful discovery’.
Kolb’s model provides a widely used framework for understanding existential learning and, consequently, for evaluating travel learning. It essentially outlines how a person will have a particular experience, reflect on their experience, conceptualize or conclude what has happened, and then experience or test what they have learned before having another new particular experience, and so the cycle continues. This framework is useful not only for understanding existential learning as a result of travel in a formal education context but can potentially help to understand of learning in different areas of the travel industry.
Although Kolb’s model has not yet been thoroughly analyzed as a form of travel learning, it has the potential to be used in future studies involving travel as a means of learning. To date there have been attempts to link travel with existential learning, however, these have focused on travel as part of an educational course, as opposed to freely chosen travel per se. This appears to be an under-researched area to date.
Drawing on existential learning pedagogy and the reflective aspect, in particular, it is proposed that voluntary tourism organizations employ Mezirow’s theory of transformative learning to inform their operational plans. Mezirow’s theory describes a change in the assumptions and beliefs of the world through a series of ten steps and emphasizes that the individual undergoes a deep and structural change in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions.
Benefits of Educational Tourism
Many benefits of educational tourism have been recorded in the academic literature. Among them are:
- Change of perspective or view of the world. Greater awareness of the “I”.
- Increased independence and self-confidence. Positive personality changes.
- cross-cultural development. Have cultural experience.
- overall commitment. Improvement of citizenship.
- Improved cultural awareness. Elimination of stereotypes.
- Intellectual and cognitive growth. Learning.
- Opportunity to get training and/or qualifications. Generate skills to help the development of the professional career.
Whether you are just starting out or if you dream of being a specialized professional in the world of travel, you should know that it is a branch where many skills are required along with professional experience. If you are interested in the world of tourism, studying a specialized online course or Master’s is the most appropriate. Make sure you do it in a center accredited by DQ, you will enjoy the best conditions of access to the labor market with international recognition and the best facilities to continue higher university studies.
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