City to entice gap year students

Updated: 2013-09-12 07:35

(China Daily)

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Beijing may become a gap year hotspot for international students, according to the capital's tourism commission, which is eyeing international students to boost tourist numbers.

"We have already studied the demands of international students from neighboring countries like Japan, South Korea and Russia, and they represent a potential tourism market," said Yu Debin, vice-chairman of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development.

He said international students will become the main consumers in Beijing's tourism market.

"We plan to arrange for international students to live in the homes of the local people and experience the local lifestyle," Yu said.

Establishing Beijing as a prime destination for gap year travel will be a long-term and strategic project for the commission, he added.

The capital attracted 2.14 million overseas tourists during the first six months this year, according to the latest statistics released by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics.

"Beijing is a city that is friendly and open to people from around the world," Yu said.

USA Today listed Beijing among the top 10 tourist destinations in Asia this year for its mass of historical sites.

The Temple of Heaven and Forbidden City are some of the city's grandest ancient attractions, while an estimated 16 million tourists a year make the day trip to the Great Wall, originally built to protect China's northern border more than 2,000 years ago, the newspaper said.

A gap year is a period of time in which students disengage from curricular education to travel, volunteer or work abroad. Often taken between high school and university, the year out is considered a time of potential personal development.

"It is good for their future career development and to enhance student's independency," Yu said.

Gap year travel is common among students in some foreign countries such as Japan, US, UK, India and Denmark.

Wang Qian

(China Daily USA 09/12/2013 page10)