China’s Generation Y the so-called millennial children born the early 1980s to the early 2000s are coming of age as a generation and helping to create a better world, according to one of New Zealand’ s leading global entrepreneurs.
Dan Radcliffe, executive director of the world’s biggest volunteer tourism agency, told Xinhua that China has now become the industry’s biggest growth market as a new generation combine seeing the world with helping others.
His firm, International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), matches travelers with volunteer work programs that are mostly run in developing countries around the world.
IVHQ had seen business from China surge by about 300 percent since starting a campaign on Chinese social media last year, he said.
“While we’re seeing Chinese travel internationally and across the board, they’re also doing that in volunteer travel so they’re also looking to travel abroad and help out in places and give back as part of their traveling,” Radcliffe said in an interview in his company base in the North Island city of New Plymouth.
“Ninety-five percent are aged 18 to 25 it’s that younger generation coming through. They are reasonably altruistic so for all the tough time that Generation Y get, they are actually a generation that is quite into giving back and thinking a little bit more than just about themselves,” he said.
“I think it bodes really well for China that we’re seeing this younger generation of Chinese starting to come through and starting to give back while they’re traveling, that they’re willing to travel and volunteer internationally.”
Last year, about 700 Chinese signed up for volunteer travel packages far short of the 8,000 from theUnited States but Radcliffe said IVHQ was aiming for 1,000 Chinese this year.
Gap in Market
The most popular destinations for the Chinese volunteers were Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bali (Indonesia), Thailand and Cambodia, and they mostly worked on volunteer programs for one to two weeks.
“They’re doing a combination of work. They’re doing childcare working in childcare facilities such as day care centers, creches, orphanages, after-school care centers. They’re also teaching,” said Radcliffe.
“The construction and wildlife programs are also really popular with Chinese working with turtles, with the elephant program in Sri Lanka wildlife conservation is really popular.”
Radcliffe, 31, holds a masters degree in finance and management and started his working life at a finance firm, but he ditched this job three days after deciding the corporate life was not for him.
He joined a volunteer program in Kenya while he decided what to do next and he spotted a gap in the market.
He set up IVHQ while living with his parents on their farm outside New Plymouth in 2007 and since then it has helped almost 40,000 volunteers find work in 26 countries.
Last year he was named New Zealand’s Entrepreneur of the Year in the awards sponsored by global accounting giant Ernst & Young.
But China, said Radcliffe, was proving a surprisingly unique market for IVHQ.
The company offered one volunteer program in China, which involved childcare and teaching in Xi’an, the capital of northwestern Shaanxi Province.
“China’s the only country we see where people travel within that country on our volunteer programs we don’t see it in any other country in the world,” said Radcliffe.
He attributed that to the vast size of China and many Chinese still wanting to travel within their own country, as well as to possible language barriers.
“The biggest challenge we have is around their level of English. A lot of the programs require a basic level of English, or Spanish in the South American programs, to participate,” he said.
“On the whole, they’re really good workers and they make a big contribution to the countries they travel in.”