A report has found that the tourism industry is yet to maximise the untapped potential of international students studying in Australia.
Professor Brian King from VU's Centre for Tourism and Services Research (CTSR), together with Griffith University, Southern Cross University and the University of Queensland, authored the report.
Destination Melbourne and VU recently presented results of a far-reaching study examining the relationships between International Educational Visitation and tourism.
More than 140 people attended the launch at the Flinders St Campus, including a wide range of industry representatives.
The report found that international students are opportunistic travellers who take day-trips and short breaks with friendship groups made up of mostly international students.
Five out of every six international students surveyed said they brought family to Australia for their graduation. Chinese, Korean and Indian students were the most likely market to do this, with 80 per cent bringing friends and family to Australia for graduations.
Professor King said the travel industry needed to do more to target the visiting friends and family market, which was on average more likely to spend money on travel in Australia.
"Students are time-poor and have constrained budgets," he said. "Visiting friends and relatives have fewer constraints, and therefore have a better economic impact."
Professor King said the discussions with industry representatives following the study's release have identified other ways in which industry could capitalise on the international student market. The possibility of international students gaining work experience within the travel industry was seen as a way to open new markets.
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