Turning International Students into Active Sport Tourists
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According to International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) (2018), education export has become the fourth largest export industry in New Zealand. According to statistics from the export education industry, of the 54,865 international paying students enrolled in New Zealand universities, polytechnics, or private training institutions in 2018, 30,230 studied in the Auckland region (Education Counts, 2019). Of these Auckland based international students, 20,820 were Chinese citizens (Education Counts, 2019). Although there are plenty of support services available for international students in New Zealand, little is currently known about how or where they like to spend their weekends. While tourism has become New Zealand’s largest foreign exchange earning industry and the largest export industry, a surprising lack of literature exists on the tourism experiences of international students. New Zealand's geographical conditions provide excellent natural conditions for a variety of active sport and leisure activities. Sports tourism is a kind of special interest tourism, which is a social phenomenon resulting from the integration of sports and tourism-related activities. It is now widely considered to be the fastest growing sector of the global travel industry. After New Zealand was first recognised as an "official approved destination" by China in 1999, Chinese tourists were as a research subject of interest to tourism industry and academia in New Zealand. Chinese students' attitude towards active sports tourism has, however, received no academic attention. This study seeks to fill some of this knowledge gap, focusing specifically on the niche and special interest field of active sports tourism. The aim of this research was to gather Auckland-based Chinese International Students' opinions and observations of New Zealand’s active sports tourism industry. Through interpretive phenomenological analysis of focus group interviews, this research found that the reason why active sports tourism is not attractive to Chinese students currently living in New Zealand is due to the lack of awareness and accessibility.