India is today the second-largest source of international students. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), overseas travel spends by Indians rose more than 60 pc year-on-year in May (just before the international academic season), thus highlighting a marked increase in overseas education travel and education spends.
A recent report by Thomas Cook (India), has suggested that a robust growth of 25 pc year-on-year has been seen from its foreign exchange student business. Given the strong growth potential of the segment, Thomas Cook (India) has announced the second edition of its Study Buddy programme – a focused initiative to catalyse demand and expand its student market-share pan India. The introduction of the Study Buddy programme has been strategically timed to target the critical booking window for student travel.
Deepesh Varma, senior vice president, sales & relationship management – foreign exchange, Thomas Cook (India) said, “Students travelling overseas for education represents a key demographic, and a strong growth driver for our foreign exchange student business. The Thomas Cook India’s Study Buddy programme hence serves as a valuable offering, designed specifically to handle the entire life cycle of students looking to study abroad and encompasses a range of products and services.”
Thomas Cook’s internal data further validates this strong growth potential with uptake in queries from student travellers of over 25 – 30 pec year-on-year. To leverage and drive the student opportunity, the company has launched the second edition of its Study Buddy programme, with a host of special student offers. The programme is available across Thomas Cook India’s omnichannel network, including its supporting portals and apps, contact centres and over 150+ foreign exchange outlets pan India, and extends over a three-month period, ending September 30, 2019.
“I have sent my daughter to London under this programme as this not only eases a lot of hassle but also saves a lot of money if I see the spendings in bits and pieces. It takes care of all the concerns under one umbrella and at the same time saves a lot of time,” said Arpan Mukherjee, a government employee from Kolkata to India Outbound.
The student portfolio offers benefits such as attractive rates on the purchase of foreign exchange; doorstep delivery; zero charges on remittances for university/tuition fees and living expenses; the convenience and security of borderless and one currency prepaid cards; free ATM withdrawals; currency notes across all global currencies and demand drafts; special student airfares; excess baggage allowance on select airlines and overseas travel insurance.
The intention of such programmes is to inspire the student foreign exchange transactions with a range of special offers coupled with convenience and ease. Under the Buy More Get More offer, students are guaranteed a free holiday at select properties on university fee remittances above INR 500,000 and many other vouchers, gifts discount coupons.
The overall business generated from the students travelling abroad for educational purposes is giving a shining picture of steep growth which reflects how Indian students are looking to pursue their academic career in foreign educational institutes. Though majorly the demand is in higher studies, the recent trend also shows students from school levels are opting out and going abroad to get a foreign degree. It needs to be seen, how Indian institutes are doing in terms of getting foreign students in return.