A RECORD number of Mexican students were welcomed to Bournemouth for an international festival.

More than 900 Mexicans learning to speak English arrived in the town this week to participate in the I-QUF Intercultural Festival.

The mayor, councillor Rod Cooper, gave a civic welcome to the students at the Pavilion to formally open the annual event, which was also attended by the Mexican Ambassador.

It is the fourth consecutive year that language school Education First has organised and hosted the festival, which will see the students take on a series of activities and challenges throughout the area during their two-week stay.

The school’s Steve Bates said 945 Mexicans are attending – an increase on last year’s 800.

“We really encourage the people of Bournemouth and visitors to come and share these events with us,” he added.

The language pupils, who study at private colleges in Mexico, are aged 12 to 18.

Each college has been allocated an adoptive country of the UN and will represent that country in a simulated debate which at the BIC.

To help the Central Americans’ develop their language skills, all the arguments will be contested in English.

A cultural tourism exhibition on April 19 and dancing contest on April 20, at the BIC, will be open to the general public.

Steve said: “The same event in 2013 was attended by hundreds of local people and holidaymakers who were massively impressed with the talents demonstrated by the students.”

Six hotels will accommodate the students and the festival will be rounded off with a three-day tour to Paris, including a trip to Disneyland.