MP eyes student business

Kootenay-Columbia MP Jim Abbott wants to build the international student business in his constituency.

Noting that the influx of foreign students attending regional high schools and colleges is good for business, Abbott said he’d like to keep the trend going and also build upon it.

With that in mind, he is endorsing and promoting an upcoming lantern festival in Kimberley that is being organized by the Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society, School District No. 6 and the Kimberley Chamber of Commerce, running March 20-26.

“When in Taipei, I met with parents of Taiwanese students attending school in our constituency. They enthusiastically expressed appreciation for the dedication that our schools and homestay parents have shown toward their children,” said Abbott.

He noted that the growth of international student programs is rapidly becoming an economic driver in Kootenay-Columbia, pointing at a recent study done for the College of the Rockies that shows the annual economic benefit of international students in the East Kootenay at $137 million.

“The School District No. 6 international students’ program has a comprehensive accommodation plan that has meant extra revenue for hundreds of homestay parents for more than 25 years. Our area’s accumulated income, including discretionary purchases by international students, is already in the millions of dollars,” Abbott said.

As Chair of the Canada Taiwan Parliamentary Association, Abbott stated that benefits are much more than economic.

“Canadians, originally from Taiwan, join with Taipei families and friends in appreciation of Kootenay-Columbia. When they offered this amazing week-long Taiwanese Lantern Festival I contacted Kimberley organizers. This event will draw thousands of people from around Kootenay-Columbia in a celebration of our connections with the world,” he stated, adding he’d like to see Invermere and Golden get on the same page as Kimberley.

“I see this as a great win-win for the constituency. There are very large financial advantages to Golden and Invermere homeowners as the new income from foreign students grows. Kimberley has a 25-year-history of outstanding foreign connections, built on close ‘family’ relationships. I’d like Golden and Invermere residents to have the same advantages,” he said.

“Finding homestay parents is a real challenge. Without them, all these advantages will be unattainable. That’s why this event is as timely as it is, as School District No. 6 plans for the next school year,” Abbott said.

“I will be travelling the constituency the week of March 5 making presentations to seniors and students inviting them to come to Kimberley for the day,” he concluded.

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