BEIJING • Middle-income parents in China are increasing their investment in children's education, with children being sent to winter or summer camps overseas becoming more commonplace.
Bookings for winter camps overseas during the upcoming vacation next year on Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency, have risen by 80 per cent from last year, and some packages are nearly sold out. The per capita spending on a study tour stood at 21,000 yuan (S$4,200), according to Ctrip.
Last year, 860,000 Chinese students joined overseas study tours, and the number is expected to exceed one million this year.
By 2020, the market scale of overseas study tours is expected to reach 40 billion yuan, according to figures from the Ministry of Education and Chinabaogao.com.
The United States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore were the top destinations and most of the teenagers were keen to take language classes to improve their English, as part of these programmes.
''A 'golden level', the highest-quality winter camp available on our website, requires the camp to provide more than five hours of classes every day. In addition, every 12 children need to be accompanied by a professional employee,'' said Ms Zhang Jie, the director of overseas study tours at Ctrip.
''Most of the Western countries take their winter breaks during the Christmas period, while the winter vacation of Chinese schools usually starts in late January, in line with the Spring Festival. When Chinese children take the tours, most of the foreign schools would have already started their new semesters. As a result, many of these products allow Chinese students to join real classes abroad,'' she said.
Several countries are offering unique and specific programmes to the children on study tours. Switzerland and northern Europe have launched programmes that are related to ice and snow sports and culture.
Countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Indonesia have established a series of events, including ecology classes, outdoor adventures and ranch-life experiences. ''This year, tours that simply include visits to renowned overseas universities and sightseeing spots have lost their market. Instead, programmes that provide real learning experiences have taken over,''
Ms Zhang said. CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK