Globalisation is often cited as the catalyst for increased personal opportunities to travel and work in the world. And as international business between countries becomes easier and trade flourishes across borders, opportunities and choices for the consumer increase. The range of products available, for example, becomes greater, leading to increased specialisation as international exporters seek to hone their products for an increasingly knowledgeable and demanding clientele.
This is true of the language travel industry, as language teaching institutions are permanently updating and improving their products to remain current and competitive in this fast-moving industry. Within the field of general business and specialist business language programmes, education providers report that they often tailor-make a language learning course for their clients. As trade barriers fall, the need for language ability among a company's employees increases - so they are able to conduct business overseas. English is already the international business language, and language learning programmes in English and many other languages are now offered that teach targeted language skills for all types of industry sectors (pages 20-24).
The accessibility of international travel is also evolving, as companies that are part of the global travel industry - chiefly, air travel - strive to remain competitive and to accommodate their ever-increasing customer base. As a result, we see many code-share deals in the aviation industry, which allow airlines to expand their services by, in effect, sharing a route with another airline. In Poland and Hungary, new code-share deals have been set up with German and Spanish carriers that are opening up air travel opportunities for citizens (page 6).
Meanwhile, the low-cost sector of the aviation market is booming, as cheap fares and minimal in-flight services appeal to many potential travellers. EasyJet has just secured its position as a strong no-frills operator within Europe by buying rival, Go (page 6). Of course, the availability and affordability of international air travel fuels the growth of language travel market, as the prospect of overseas study becomes more affordable.
Another key factor helping to boost the language travel market is the growing concensus that global opportunities should be seized and that international experience is enriching. Therefore, we see governments around the world supporting international exchange programmes at university level, such as in France and China (page 4); academics in the USA pushing for more incentives for students to study foreign languages (page 5); and more students keen to spend part of their academic career overseas.
Such demand has led to the development of targeted academic preparation courses for international students who wish to attend high school or university overseas. Independently-run high schools in the UK offer such courses, which are designed to help students adapt, both socially and academically, to the British high school study environment (page 17).
The ongoing evolution of our global experience points to more choice for consumers and greater opportunities to interact on an international level. However, with choice comes the need for insightful analysis. This is the critical role that agents and consultants provide in our industry.