In the past decade, China has emerged as the world’s most popular baby tourism destination, and as the destination for the most people to visit.
A report published in 2016 found that almost 60% of Chinese visitors have never been to a country other than China before, and nearly one in five of them will visit China at some point in their lives.
In fact, China’s birth tourism industry is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 trillion, with Chinese parents increasingly choosing to visit China as a way to escape poverty and travel for the first time.
“China has become a very attractive destination for baby tourism, and many Chinese parents choose to have their child born in China as an alternative to travel to countries such as the United States and Europe,” says Nick Lidberg, a researcher at the Child Poverty Center of the University of California, San Francisco.
“The reason is simple: the country has been able to maintain a strong social safety net, and so they are able to afford to send their children to school there.”
With its rich culture, sophisticated educational system, and growing middle class, China is now a prime destination for foreign parents looking to send children to a more affluent, modern country.
“When I went to China for the summer of 2019, it was the best vacation I’d ever had,” says Laura, a mother of four who travels with her three children.
“It was an opportunity to learn more about the culture, learn more, and to see how Chinese people live and work.
And that’s the real advantage for parents when they are planning a trip to China.”
In the meantime, Laura and her husband are working to save up enough money to bring their family to China.
“We’re trying to figure out what the best way is to do that, and how to take advantage of that opportunity,” Laura says.
“And to do it in a way that’s not going to harm us.”
Laura says her husband has already purchased the best-equipped plane in his family’s arsenal.
“My husband is looking at buying a new plane, and he’s really excited about it,” she says.
But, Laura says, “He’s definitely not going back to the States.”
Laura and Nick have already purchased an eight-seat charter plane and are in the process of finding an additional two-seat aircraft.
“I’ve got to figure this out, so I’m planning to fly back home with my husband,” Laura adds.
Nick has already bought a second plane to take him to China, but he is still searching for a third.
“If you go to China to find a place to live, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to,” he says.
In addition to their financial struggles, Laura, Nick, and their children have to deal with a host of other challenges.
Laura’s job is paying the bills and preparing to raise a family, while Nick is juggling her job as a nurse with caring for their four-year-old son.
“Every day I have to think about how much money I need to save to send my son to school, so we’re really struggling financially,” Laura explains.
“A lot of the other parents that we have are trying to help with the costs, and we’re struggling to do the same.”
But, Nick says, it’s worth it.
“There are a lot of things we could do with the money that we’ve saved,” he said.
“But I think the thing that’s most important is that we’re trying.
We want to see the country we love and want to do things with, and when we go back to it, we’re going to be just like the people we grew up with.
It’s just that they’re not going home to their parents anymore.”