Educational Tours to Boost Tourism in Future

New research suggests a trend toward travel as a learning and educational opportunity will change the face of the tourism industry in the future.

The collaborative study by the University of Queensland and the Oregon State University revealed a major shift as people viewed their holidays as ways to explore new ideas and cultures, art, science and history.

“The idea of travel as a learning experience isn’t new, it’s been around a long time,” said John Falk, a professor of science education at Oregon State University.

He is referring to the “Grand Tours” of Europe which were a rite of passage in the 1700s and 1800s for upper-class citizens of the gentry or nobility.

These days there has been an increase in tourists who want more out of the travel experience, including ecotourism, personal enrichment and trips that focus on environmental awareness.

“There is already an increase in tour operators and travel agencies offering educational opportunities like whale, dolphin and turtle watching as well as other specialised ecotourism experiences that have visitor environmental learning as a major focus and outcome,” Professor Ballantyne from the UQ School of Tourism said.

The researchers found that a focus on visitor free-choice learning in tourism experiences is just the beginning of a major shift in travel and one that tourism operators around the world need to take seriously.

The research report has been accepted for publication in the top ranked international journal Annals of Tourism Research.