Southern Cross University students Paris Li and Carrie Ma with their parents Zhi Qiang and Yanhua Lyu who are visiting from Beijing.
Southern Cross University students Paris Li and Carrie Ma with their parents Zhi Qiang and Yanhua Lyu who are visiting from Beijing. Contributed

Uni helps Tweed tourism tap into major market

EDUCATION has firmed as one of Australia’s biggest economic drivers and the Tweed region has the potential to further cash in on the phenomenon.

Chinese national Paris Li is among the international students studying at Southern Cross University and while she believes the northern NSW region is particularly attractive to Asian students, she also highlighted that it is extremely appealing to their families.

Ms Li, who is completing a Bachelor of Business at the university’s Coolangatta campus, is currently hosting her parents who have joined her from Beijing for a three-month visit.

“They love Australia so much and are spending most of their time here as there is plenty for them to do,” Ms Li said.

“We have spent a lot of time in Coolangatta and Tweed Heads, at night markets across the city, and visiting the hinterland.

“They love the clean air and the deep blue sky.”

The arrival of Ms Li’s parents highlights a Study Gold Coast forecast released this week which shows family and friends visiting students in the region could provide a major economic boost, but the market is yet to be fully realised.

Chairman Rob Borbidge said data released in a Federal Government- commissioned report reveals the economic impact of visiting friends and relatives market was $222 million nation-wide,.

Mr Borbidge said the area needs to promote its education sector to help boost the region’s tourism numbers and gain a larger piece of the pie.

“It’s time to back the education sector as it is the foundation for a thriving economy in the coming years,” he said.

Melbourne-based education research house Prospect Research has found that for each student who studies in Australia for three years, their parents will visit twice, with the average length of stay being three weeks and 20% of those visitors will stay in a five-star hotel.

Tourism Australia estimates every international tourist is worth $5000 to the economy, with Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong and Japanese among the most lucrative customers for the region.



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