New Article: Campus Tourists

I am really happy to see this article come out. Whilst living in China, I was always surprised by the number of Chinese tourists on my campus and the campuses we visited. There has been quite a bit of domestic research into campus tourism in China. See here, here and here (Chinese Language).

In China, many universities are seen as tourist attractions, and are rated as such. Popular universities include:

Sun Yat-sen University

Lanzhou University

Zhejiang Normal University 

Xiangnan College

Peking university

Wuhan University

There has been less work on Chinese tourists visiting campuses abroad, but some work on domestic and Chinese campus visitors in Malaysia (here, here and here).

Universiti Malaysia Sabah, for example, has been very forthright in developing campus tourism and tourist activities.

“Mindset change” is one of the key elements of the EcoCampus transformation plan, practiced by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), a renowned local university situated in Kota Kinabalu, This EcoCampus tour starts with Gallery and Museum tour which gives insights about history, innovation, wildlife expedition and an even  closer understanding about human anatomy at their very own Medical Museum. Each of the campus building’s architectural design has a story to tell.

Indeed, Nine public universities in Malaysia offer these packages. They include UPM, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, University of Malaya, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and Universiti Utara Malaysia.

The Case for Campus Tourism

As staycation prices increase, more options are needed at popular domestic destinations across the globe.

“The reasons are many. some universities want to utilise underutilised infrastructure (accommodation), and seek revenue. Others are using the campus experience for tourists and visitors to showcase key strengths and even degree programmes, such as event management, and sustainable tourism management. The UMS tours also engage with with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

UWS in Malaysia offers tours such as Gallery and Museum, Nature Delight, Architecture Heritage and Sunset, the Nature Education Camp, Night in the Forest and Bird-Watching .

“Student volunteers play important roles as tourist guides, interpreters, cashiers at our cafe and souvenir shop or buggy drivers.

If universities are tackling some of society’s greatest challenges –  transportation, security, sustainability dilemmas, such as sustainable tourism, congestion etc, why cant they innovate to deal with campus tourists?

CMU University Tour in Thailand

CMU Guided tour.

Our article is entitled:

Searching for Prestige: Motivations and Managerial Implications of Chinese Campus Tourists.

While changes in society continue to inform understandings of what leisure is and how it manifests itself, the emergence of Chinese outbound tourists, with specific motivations, travel styles and interests, are having powerful impacts on multiple host destinations. While university campuses have long been marked as visitor attractions in China, this study explores the motivations of outbound Chinese tourists visiting university campuses abroad. On site qualitative interviews took place with 25 fully independent Chinese tourists at three campuses in Seoul, South Korea and a campus in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The study results found that Chinese visitors mark specific university campuses as attractions and are motivated to visit because of their prestige, by novelty and exploration, emotion and nostalgia and learning and knowledge seeking. This study argues that campus tourism may be difficult to develop and manage as a well-defined product that meets the needs of Chinese tourists, university governors and university stakeholders. The study explores the implications for universities and recommends universities begin a critical evaluation of prestige markers and especially those markers present in the Chinese cultural, pop-culture and (social) media context, which may be counterproductive to the primary mission of universities.

Read the full article here:

Why Chinese tourists?

Orryel Jaunis, Suhaida Haji Mohd Amin, Rosmalina Abdul Rashid, Fazilah Musa / Scenario wrote a nice paper on “Of Campus Tourism In Universiti Malaysia Sabah During The Covid-19 Pandemic Shutdown.”

The paper indicates the majority of campus visitors were Chinese.

Chinese visitors to University Malaysia Sabah (UMS)

Our paper unpicks the motivations behind these numbers, and seeks to understand what makes campus tourism so popular, as well as the managerial implications.