Eleri Williams, general manager Haka Educational Tours, accepts the award for best emerging business in the service category of the NZ Export Awards recently Eleri Williams, general manager Haka Educational Tours, accepts the award for best emerging business in the service category of the NZ Export Awards recently

Agents reap benefits of educational tourism

Travel agents are increasingly gaining business from school trips and educational tours, according to one of the leading operators in the sector.

 

Haka Educational Tours reports that its business, both inbound and outbound, has recorded some 250% growth and agents are among the beneficiaries. ‘About 30% of what we are doing now is coming through the trade’, says general manager Eleri Williams. ‘And that is growing faster than we anticipated.’ Haka Educational Tours has a partnership in Australia and New Zealand with STA Travel and globally with Flight Centre, and also with other agents and brokers. ‘We provide the land package, they (agents) add an airfare and present it to the school,’ says Williams. ‘We have really seen this shift over the last four years.’

 

Williams says school groups are heading to a wide variety of destinations, with USA tending to lead the pack. ‘A lot go to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, others head to Florida for the space camp programme at Kennedy Space Centre and also the US Base and Rocket Centre at Alabama.’ Williams says there is a big focus on encouraging students to pursue the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) but many subjects are covered by the tours – which link directly back to the curriculum. ‘Hawaii is big with groups focusing on geology, tourism and environmental science.

 

We also have groups who go to Southeast Asia and are dropped into the jungle with a guide.’ Williams says the growth in the sector is assisted by the increasing affordability and accessibility of destinations from New Zealand – particularly the United States. There is also more desire from schools and communities to get children onto these tours. ‘There is more awareness of the importance it has for the students and we alleviate the financial side by being proactive for fundraising with the schools. We go into the schools, talk about the budget and tailor what is realistic for them.’ Haka Educational Tours was recently recognised at the New Zealand Export Awards as best emerging business in the service category.

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