Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Logical Excuse to Participate in Edutourism

You have sold your soul to your company for the past six years and the ten vacation days that you were originally granted has been boosted up to fifteen in exchange for your continued loyalty (and your first born child).  You do the math and quickly realize that fifteen days basically amounts to three weeks as long as you include the weekends.  You haven’t had that much time off since Christmas vacation your final week of university!  You start to get excited.  Three entire weeks basking in the warm glow of the sun down on some beach in the middle of nowhere, far away from cell towers, internet connection, your e-mail inbox and the lady in your office that wears too much perfume sounds divine.  You just go on Expedia, book your trip and in no time at all you are sitting on that pristine beach (with about 5000 other tourists), enjoying the scent of the tropical breeze (and that big guy’s coconut suntan oil on your right) listening to absolutely nothing but the soothing waves against the shore (and the frat boys to your left shouting “chug, chug chug”).  All that aside, sitting back in a lawn chair is actually quite relaxing.  Until you get to day three and realize you are bored out of your mind and burnt to a crisp. Maybe you should ask that big guy if you can borrow his suntan lotion...

Now before you go and do the rational thing like splitting up for vacation time into three different getaways and booking your hotel during hurricane season to avoid the crowds, consider another equally rational option.  Edutourism.

My last post attempted to explain the new concept of what edutourism is exactly so I encourage you to go back and take a quick look at it so that you are all up to speed.  I’ll wait right here.


Back?  Perfect.  Moving on.  Edutourism experiences can range anywhere from one to four weeks depending on your specific program but the reason I bring it up is because these informal learning programs are perfect to keep you A-type personalities busy during your vacation.  I don’t mean run you off your feet busy, but adequately involved in the culture and local surroundings of your destination so that the boredom doesn’t sink in after three days of doing absolutely nothing but shaking sand out of your underwear towel.

Benefits for Your Vacation Experience
I’ve probably mentioned most of these already but I will quickly recap just because I think they are worth mentioning and are probably some of the more convincing reasons to participate in edutourism.

  • Whether it is informal or formal learning, edutourism programs are a stimulating alternative to sitting on a lawn chair that will keep your mind occupied and your body moving.
  • Many tourists come, they see and they go.  If you are going to travel abroad, you should make the most of the opportunity to take something more out of your trip beyond some nice photos.  Your destination is going to offer up a whole new culture and perspective for you to explore and the best way to experience this is to actually become involved with the people.
  • Learning a new skill such as silk weaving, glass blowing, cigar rolling or any other is going to provide you with a unique vacation experience that you can brag about when you get back to reality.  And let’s face it, if we are going to take three weeks of vacation, we had better come back with a better story than “the resort was so beautiful”.

Benefits for the Destination Country
Maybe you aren’t really into the idea of edutourism for the “learning” part of the available programs but you are interested in what edutourism can actually provide for the region itself.  Few tourists are actually aware of the high impact that their vacation has on the economy and development of a particular location.  There are a few countries that base their economy heavily upon the revenue brought in by tourism.  But at the same time, these countries suffer because they are losing what makes them culturally unique as they seek to provide “westerners” with all the comforts of home and must conform their societal structure to be more accommodating and familiar.  Listed below are some of the ways that edutourism benefits the country.

  • Attracts a wide base of consumers who are less satisfied with “package” vacations
  • Has the potential to create a socially and economically sustainable tourism product that benefits both the region and its visitors.
  • Edutourism can help rejuvenate tourism throughout the world, celebrating cultures and the intermingling of residents and visitors.
  • It can provide great support for preservation and conversation of the local environment and culture and provide more meaningful opportunities for residents and visitors.
  • Once of the most obvious benefits of edutourism is the sustainability aspect of it in that the local population is being more actively involved in the direct and indirect benefits of tourism.

Benefits for Your Career & Resume
Hold the phone.  I can’t be serious.  How does a vacation look good on a resume?  Well, to be specific, a vacation doesn’t but an edutourism program quite possibly could. 

  • Choose an edutourism program that relates to your career.  Are you in the fashion industry? Learning to weave silk in Thailand could be a differentiating and noteworthy experience to put on your resume.  Or if you are in into sports journalism, travelling to Cuba to play baseball might also spark some interest from potential employers.
  • International perspective is always a good thing to weave into your resume.  With the marketplace expanding to encompass the entire globe, employers often want proof that you will be able to adapt if you are put in a situation where you have to interact with a different culture.  Demonstrating that you were fully engaged in Japanese culture for three weeks while completing an in depth tour of temples, shrines and symbolic gardens proves that you have an interest in broadening your horizons and understanding of another peoples’ heritage.
  • And at the very least, put your edutourism experience under you list of skills and interests and it will make for a good conversation piece during your next interview.  Everyone puts that they love to travel, read, play sports, etc.  You toss Elephant Mahout in there and people are going to take a second glance just to make sure they did not misread that.


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