For all those wanting to travel the world on a small budget, here’s an idea:
Organization signs up 5,000 families
By Farah Master, Reuters
SHANGHAI, China — Visitors seeking to see China on a budget would do well to brush up their English language skills to take advantage of a scheme that offers free lodging in Chinese homes in exchange for English tutoring.
With the cost of one hour of English tuition costing up to $75 — unaffordable for the vast majority of Chinese — a not-for-profit Chinese organization called Tourboarding launched the initiative last month.
Lodgers must speak at least two hours of English a day in return for their keep while their Chinese hosts can learn for free from a resident live-in English teacher.
“In the past 30 days, 5,000 Chinese families have signed up,” said Ken Chen, 38, one of the founding members for Tourboarding.
Chen said the aim of the company, which is run online ( www.tourboarding.com),is not to make money but to provide opportunity for the millions of Chinese keen to learn English.
Tourboarding hopes to tap into foreign demand for cheap accommodation in China, particularly in Shanghai, as hotel prices have soared since the start of the World Expo in May.
“Travel industry hates us, people love us,” is the motto on its website, which prides itself on offering travellers airport pickup and drop-off, free accommodation with a Chinese family and two meals a day during their stay.
Travellers can choose to exchange their language for free accommodation, tour guiding or even Chinese cooking lessons.
Yang Yang, 16, a female student in Shanghai, advertises her home on the Tourboarding website to prospective travellers.
“The house is next to a lake, green is good. We can offer single rooms for you to live. My parents want me to invite a woman.”
Chen said Yang is just one example of a rising number of Chinese opening their homes to foreigners in the hope of improving their English.
“We accept travellers from all over the world.
“In the future, we will copy this model to imitate in new, booming countries such as Russia, Brazil and Vietnam,” said Chen.
Chen, who quit his job at Nike Sports China, joined forces with Nuno Zhang, 28, an ex-Google employee to create the Tourboarding concept.
The company started up in April.
He added that the website would rely on donations from travellers until volume traffic increases.
“In the future, we will bring in advertising to make the service sustainable, but we will not charge hosts at all as they are from a developing country,” Chen added.