Status of International Study Tours in China: The Students’ and Parents’ Perspectives
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International study tours have a place in both the tourism and education markets. In recent years, international short-term study tours have become increasingly popular in China. A large number of students choose to participate in international study tours during the winter and summer vacations each year, and China's study tour market is growing. China's overseas study tour market has a bright future, and a deeper understanding of the current development of the market helps promote the rapid and healthy development of the industry. The Chinese education system has always allowed children to absorb as much knowledge and learning as possible, but knowledge and insights are two different concepts. Knowledge can be acquired through learning and rote memorisation in the classroom, but insights gained through travelling is different. It relates to wisdom, an understanding of the world, and to expand children's minds. Children's personal insights cannot be obtained only through classroom knowledge, but more through their experience and understanding of real life. Study tours have a history dating back hundreds of years in Europe and America. More recently, China's study tour industry has entered a stage of vigorous development with the overall improvement of economic and social standards. Chinese parents choose to let their children participate in international study tours. They hope that exposure to different educational background experiences, different customs and habits, educational forms, and different international student communications will inspire students to gain a broader international vision and passion for the future. From another perspective, in the contemporary globalisation process, people's visions determine their future development directions. For students, a memorable life experience in their adolescence stage can provide them with a positive attitude, which can stimulate their thinking about life, and help clarify their future goals and life orientation. This research aims to understand the reasons for the popularity of short-term international study tours with Chinese nationals and the views of parents and students on study tours. The research used mixed research methods. Quantitative methods were used to analyse demographic characteristics, and qualitative methods were used to analyse 180 comments on study tours by students participating in international study tours and their parents’ perspectives. The data were extracted from the New Oriental International Study Tour Organisation (NOISTO) website and official WeChat accounts in different regions. These comments provide researchers with key insights into the study tour experience. Thematic analysis was used to discover the reasons for the popularity of study tours, the attractive factors of the destination countries for students and parents, and the benefits of study tours. The research findings showed the different characteristics and family backgrounds of the students participating in the study tours sharing similar views. Their parents valued the education provided by the study tours, and supported their children to join again. They believed that through study tours, their children gained benefits, such as increased knowledge, improved English proficiency, and the development of a broader international vision.