||Disappointingly, another year of negative growth was experienced by Taiwanese language travel agents in 2002, and there appears to be little hope of revival in 2003.
|The total number of students placed by the 10 agencies in our survey was 5,671
Individual agencies placed between 30 and 1,800 students on language courses per year
Student numbers decreased by an overall average of eight per cent
Average length of stay for Taiwanese students was 14.3 weeks
Commission rates ranged from 15 to 25 per cent, averaging out at 18.5 per cent
The average spend on tuition and accommodation per week was US$325
Half of the agencies charged a handling fee, which ranged between US$50 and US$100
||Most popular courses
New Zealand 5%
Academic prep. 10%
Work experience 1%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Studies overseas 48%
Current work 21%
Studies at home 6%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Host families 73%
Private apartment 4%
Other press 4%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 33%
Education NZ 44%
British Council 78%
Taiwan's economic growth has remained sluggish over the past year, which has continued to hold back the language travel market, resulting in a negative growth rate for the third consecutive year. Half of the 10 Taiwanese language travel agents who took part in our Agency Survey reported that their student numbers had decreased by between five and 50 per cent in 2002, while a further two respondents said their numbers had remained the same. Of those who had experienced a drop in bookings, the reasons given were Taiwan's poor economic performance and the continued backlash of September 11, 2001.
Fifty-seven per cent of our respondents' clients were aged between 19 and 30 years old, which was eight percentage points down on last year's survey (see Language Travel Magazine, July 2003, pages 10-11). This year, 12-to-18 year olds comprised 31 per cent of students, compared with 26 per cent last year. Some agents picked out this age group as holding the most potential, because more and more students were interested in studying overseas. However, although agents estimated that, in 2002, a considerable 48 per cent of students took a language course overseas for their academic studies in another country, this was down by 10 percentage points on last year. Learning a language for work reasons has become more important, with 21 per cent of students doing so in 2002, compared with 14 per cent in 2001. Interestingly, despite Taiwan's economic stagnation, learning a language for pleasure remained popular, accounting for the motivation of around 21 per cent of agency clients.
English is the most popular language learnt by Taiwanese language travellers, accounting for 92 per cent of agency bookings, while French and German were each requested by about three per cent of clients. Other languages mentioned by our respondents were German, Japanese and Italian. In terms of preferred destinations, the USA has lost favour in Taiwan, slipping from the number-one choice last year to third place this year. Overall this year, the UK was the most popular destination, followed by Australia. July and August accounted for just over half of annual bookings, and the average length of stay, at just over 14 weeks, was similar to last year.
Agents estimated that 77 per cent of clients knew which country they wanted to visit before consultation, while 42 per cent arrived knowing their chosen city and 20 per cent their school. After consultation with the agent, 22 per cent typically changed their mind about the country, 34 per cent about the city and 40 per cent about the school.
Forecast for 2003
Agents were downbeat in their forecasts for 2003, especially because of the Sars outbreak in much of Asia, which certainly dampened summer bookings for 2003.
After shrinking by 2.2 per cent in 2001, Taiwan's economy bounced back in 2002, expanding by 3.5 per cent. Taiwan's Council for Economic Planning and Development forecasts growth of 3.7 per cent for 2003.
With almost 50 per cent of Taiwan's GDP coming from exports, the country was severely affected by the economic slowdown in 2001. However, exports to China have risen by 82 per cent, helping to achieve an 11.4 per cent increase in export earnings in the year to March 2003.
The unemployment rate reached a record high of 5.2 per cent in 2002. However, consumer price inflation remains very low, and is expected to increase by only 0.3 per cent in 2003.
On January 1 2002, Taiwan officially became a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey:
Best Education Studies; Dragon Worldwide Education Service; Frontier Planning International; Hui Huang Overseas Education Development; International Education Foundation; Merica Group; The Education Foundation of Europe; UKEAS; United Education Service; Welcome Consulting Co.
Taiwanese agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Australian College of English, Sydney; Bond University English Language Institute, Gold Coast; Holmes College, various; Melbourne Univeristy Private/Hawthorn English Language Centre, Melbourne; Queensland College of English, various; Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; Shafston International College, Brisbane; Tafe WA, Perth. In Canada: Columbia International College, Hamilton; ILSC, various; King George International College, Vancouver; Language Studies Canada, various. In New Zealand: Auckland University of Technology, Auckland. In the UK: Anglo-Continental, Bournemouth; ELC, Bristol; Hawthorn English Language Centre, Edinburgh; ISI, various; Malvern House, London; Regent Language Training, various; St Giles, various; Superstudy, London; Swandean School of English, Worthing. In the USA: New England School of English, Boston. Worldwide: Aspect; Embassy CES; Eurocentres; International House.