The Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) has released its latest report from Q2 2012, which includes feedback from 229 language schools and 399 educational agencies around the world. ALTO regularly provides a snapshot of the language travel industry and predictions for the upcoming quarter via its report, ALTO Pulse.
Less than half of the language schools and agents reported growth in the last quarter, and overall performance has been on a downward trend since the report from Q4 2011. Reasons for the drop are mainly attributed to tightened visa restrictions in the UK and this summer’s Olympic Games in London, as well as continuing economic challenges in some countries. One participant summed it up as follows:
“We are suffering because of the UK’s visa regime, the Olympics, and instability in Europe.”
As a result of the decline, fewer survey participants are optimistic about the future; however, the general mood is still upbeat with 58% of the participating schools and 70% of the agents expecting a better quarter to come.
Malta leads the pack, with 70% of schools reporting a growing number of students, closely followed by France, Germany and Ireland (67%). Perhaps not surprisingly, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have reported declines – mainly due to visa changes and the economic climate.
The following table shows how each country ranks their key growing and declining markets. This breakdown highlights Brazil and Saudi Arabia as top growth markets. While China popped up in the international summary, top survey submitters mentioned the increase of Japanese students more. South Korean and Spanish student numbers are down in all their traditional destinations.
More than half of the agents in quite a few countries had a better Q2 in 2012 than in 2011. Mexico appears for the first time in ALTO’s report, and has taken over China’s record with 78% of the participating agents reporting growth. China is second at 70% and Japan follows at 67%. Pakistani (47%) and Indian (40%) agents reported declines compared to last year.
With the Olympics at a close and autumn just around the corner, time will soon tell how the language travel industry shapes up in the remaining half of 2012.