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Newly published report compares pricing, market trends worldwide

WYSE Travel Confederation in conjunction with its research partner Student Marketing have released the second in a series of planned industry review studies, this time on pricing. The report looks at trends and comparative pricing in six youth and student travel sectors: language travel, higher education, work experience, volunteer travel, adventure travel and youth travel accommodation.

The executive summary for the report is online and the full report is available to members only. By special permission of the Confederation, we are pleased to present selected findings for the language, higher education, work experience and volunteer travel sectors below.

Language Travel

The language travel sector saw two million arrivals worldwide in 2010, nearly three quarters of which were for English-language studies in major destination countries.

Notable market trends include a shift toward longer terms of studies, increasing demand for English for specific purposes, and greater diversification by destination country. The UK, in particular, saw its market share decline by 34% from 2005 to 2009 while the US and Canada saw language travel arrivals increase by 12% over the same period (measured in student weeks).

The Middle East and Latin America are the fastest-growing source regions, with growth of 124% and 67% respectively from 2005 to 2009.

Agents have become an increasingly important referral source in recent years, with a nearly 12% growth in bookings from 2006 to 2009.

General English programmes remain the core of the language travel sector and the most popular course of study for international students.

Within the WYSE sample, English language courses in London were found to be the most expensive in Western Europe, with the price climbing to almost US$1,700 for a 4-week General English course.

Spanish language courses in Madrid tend to be priced more affordably in Western Europe than in Eastern Europe. The difference in the price is even more notable when compared to North America, which is almost US$200 more expensive.

Higher Education

Higher education was noted as the best-performing and highest-revenue sector within the sectors reviewed, with more than 3.6 million arrivals in 2010.

Costs of higher education study vary widely worldwide.

The US is the most popular study destination for international higher education students, and also the most expensive with costs of study running as high as US$40,000 per year at some US universities and averaging US$30,492 for the 20 US universities with the largest populations of international students.

Costs of higher education study in the UK averaged roughly a third less at US$20,195.

The appreciating Australian dollar has pushed the cost of university studies Down Under to an average of US$23,519 per year, while costs of study in Canada averaged the lowest among the four major destination countries at US$19,734.

Meanwhile, university studies in many non-traditional destinations that are now asserting themselves on the world stage–in Asia and Latin America in particular–uniformly averaged below US$10,000 per year.

Work Exchange and Experience

The work exchange and experience sector registered 700,000 participants in 2010 in the top five destinations of the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

As might be expected, this sector is particularly sensitive to economic downturns. Bookings dropped off sharply after the 9/11 attacks then grew strongly from 2005 to 2009 before falling off again in the wake of the global recession in 2009. Overall, the sector dropped more than 22% from 2008 to 2010.

Pricing comparisons are more difficult in the sector as the pricing structure is highly variable with a wide range of additional or optional fees attached to many exchange and work travel opportunities.

Average prices for a US Summer Work Travel programme range from US$1,100 in Central Europe to more than US$2,000 in China.

Work and Study in Canada, combining language tuition with work experience, averaged worldwide at over US$3,800.

Volunteer Travel

The volunteer sector has seen steady growth since 1990 and accounted for an estimated 1.67 million arrivals in 2010. Volunteer travellers are well-educated and better able to afford both the fee of the travel programme as well as any integrated donation components of total programme cost.

Roughly 60% of volunteer travel participants come from the US. Latin America, Africa and Asia are the major destination regions for international volunteers.

The average programme price in this research sample was US$1,500 (based on a two-week volunteer programme).

There are again considerable variations in price globally, with observed price gaps of up to 36% across source countries worldwide.

Source: WYSE Travel Confederation

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