EduTourism USA mission to build upon international student visitation

Members of the Townsville North Queensland EduTourism Consortium will travel across the USA throughout October presenting to almost 3,000 students and faculty from 14 leading USA tertiary intuitions to promote the educational tourism program on offer in North Queensland.

EduTourism Consortium Chair and owner of Paluma’s Hidden Valley Cabins, Ross McLennan and Director of Reef Education and Stewardship at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Fred Nucifora will present to the educational institutions and several tourism focused education bodies in the USA.

The program already has 21 tertiary groups confirmed to visit Townsville North Queensland during the USA Summer (May 2020), with this mission aiming to build upon the rapidly growing interest in North Queensland’s EduTourism market. Students spend an average 30 days in the region, receiving credit points towards their degrees through experiential learning experiences designed by local businesses in the fields of marine and tropical sciences, environmental studies, tourism, and Indigenous heritage.

Presentations promoting the North Queensland EduTourism Program will be given to an estimated 200 staff and students at each university including Virginia Tech, University of North Carolina, Miami University, and University of Texas, to name just a few. Further appointments have also been secured with National Geographic and the Washington based Australian Embassy and Austrade to facilitate the growth of study abroad programs in North Queensland.

Tourism operators in Townsville North Queensland came together in 2013 to establish an EduTourism Consortium to develop new products and diversify their businesses to attract international education groups to the region. The EduTourism Consortium has grown from three operators to 25 since its inception seven years ago.

The Townsville North Queensland EduTourism Consortium comprises local world-leading research institutions and natural resource management agencies including James Cook University, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Hinchinbrook Shire Council and North Queensland tourism operators, such as Reef HQ and Adrenalin Dive.

Townsville Enterprise Director - Tourism & Events, Lisa Woolfe said that EduTourism is no longer a niche market.

“Study abroad programs and similar short forms of EduTourism visitation have been growing at a rapid pace around the globe,” said Ms Woolfe.

“The EduTourism Consortium has a vision to establish Townsville North Queensland as Australia’s capital of transformational experiential learning and teaching programs.

“These missions are an effective way to identify potential international educational groups to travel to our region for an immersive world-class learning experience.

“This provides both a meaningful environmental educational experience to international students, as well as a significant economic boost to the local Townsville North Queensland economy.

“The structured education tourism groups secured through these missions are worth more than $1.7M a year to Townsville but we believe this is only skimming the surface.”

The USA sales mission follows on from previous successful delegations to the USA and Singapore, with the USA now a well performing market for the region in the EduTourism sector.

EduTourism Consortium Chair, Ross McLennan is looking forward to building off the success of previous trips.

“This is a great opportunity to continue building upon the momentum the region’s study abroad program has generated over the last seven years,” said Mr McLennan.

“Our region is now recognised as a centre of excellence for study abroad teaching and learning for the international education market, particularly in the fields of marine and tropical sciences, environmental studies and tourism.

“We now have several world-class tourism operators in our region working together and investing into offering specific experiences designed for visiting international student groups.

“Educational tourism is a lucrative market and Townsville is the ideal place to capitalise on the USA’s strong demand for study abroad programs.”

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium has been involved in supporting the development and delivery of EduTourism programs in Townsville North Queensland since its inception. Students take part in a broad range of educational experiences, including snorkelling in Reef HQ Aquarium’s living Coral Reef Exhibit where they are trained in how to undertake Reef Health monitoring surveys.

Project Manager of Education at Reef HQ Aquarium, Julie Spencer said the region’s rich natural assets are a major draw card for international students.

“Our region offers unique natural, historical and multicultural environments for participants to experience and discover,” said Ms Spencer.

“EduTourism benefits the local economy, while at the same time educating and enriching the lives of the individuals who participate in these programs.

“Participants take these learnings back home and share their North Queensland experiences with friends and family, which are often a major highlight in their life-long learning journey.”

The program is co-funded with the support of Townsville tourism operators, Townsville Enterprise, the Queensland Government's International Education and Training Partnership Fund, managed by the International Education and Training Unit (IETU) within Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ).

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