||Problems at home, a high US dollar rate and a tense global environment post-September 11, 2001, all had a dampening effect on the market in 2002, according to agents in Brazil.
|The total number of students placed by the 18 agencies in our survey was 2,270
Individual agencies placed between seven and 436 students on language courses per year
Average growth of combined agency business in 2002 was -26 per cent
Average length of stay for Brazilian students was eight weeks
All of our respondents charged clients a handling fee, ranging from US$50 to US$100
The average spend on tuition and accommodation per week was US$350
Seventy-four per cent of students opted for host family accommodation
Typically, 42 per cent of students changed their minds about study plans after consultation
||Most popular courses
New Zealand 8%
South Africa 1.5%
Language plus work 8.5%
Summer vac. 6.5%
Exam prep. 2%
Academic prep. 1.5%
|Reasons for language travel
||Age range of clients
|Current work 55%
Studies at home 22%
Studies overseas 15%
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Host families 74%
Private apartment 5%
Other press 1%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
English Australia 47%
Education NZ 73%
British Council 100%
Despite optimism from a majority of Brazilian agents in last year's Agency Survey about market performance in 2002 (see Language Travel Magazine, April 2002, page 12), the language travel market continued to decline last year. Among the 18 agencies that took part in this year's survey of 2002 business, 14 experienced a reduction or stagnation in student numbers, while two agencies didn't specify. Only two agencies saw an increase in numbers of 10 per cent each last year. Overall, a dismal negative growth rate of 26% was recorded. Agencies were unanimous in their reasons why. The devaluation of the real and high value of the dollar, unstable Brazilian economy and fears about travelling abroad were all factors affecting the market.
High school students aged between 16 and 18 years old accounted for far fewer language travellers this year at 16 per cent, compared with 26 per cent last year, while the 25-to-30 year old age group grew in importance, accounting for 27 per cent of clients - up from 20 per cent last year. However, the 19-to-24 age group remained the most important, representing 38 per cent of students, and agents felt that this group remained the best source of future business. August and January were the most popular months to travel, accounting for 18 and 17 per cent of bookings respectively.
English remained the number-one language choice, with Spanish a clear second. However, the USA's popularity waned, falling from first place last year to second position. Canada was the preferred language travel destination, with 26 per cent of students studying there, while Australia was in third place and the UK in fourth position. In terms of language courses, general and intensive programmes accounted for the lion's share of the market, but work experience courses, in third place, were growing in popularity with students, according to agents.
Individual bookings made up 76 per cent of agency business, and word-of-mouth recommendation was the most common way to recruit clients. An agency's website was the second-most important marketing medium. Agencies began on average six new partnerships with schools last year, terminating a typical four agreements, proving that even when the market is suffering, agents are still looking for additional good schools.
Forecast for 2003
Agencies are resigned to the fact that there are tough times ahead. The war in Iraq casts a question mark over future business while economic constraints at home are further restricting business. One agent remarked that students may continue to study languages locally instead of going overseas. Another mentioned that unless the US dollar rate drops, the middle classes in Brazil will continue to find study abroad unaffordable.
Brazil's economy is struggling under high inflation, large debts and the high value of the US dollar. The war in Iraq is also expected to have a destabilising effect on hopes for improvement in the future. GDP growth is expected to be marginal this year, improving in 2004. GDP was at 1.5% in 2002, growing by just one percentage point on 2001's figure.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that Brazil is meeting all the criteria required on its US$31.4 billion loan arrangement with them, but it warned that ''market conditions continue to be difficult and risks remain, due in part to the uncertain global environment''.
Brazil's Central Bank held the benchmark interest rate at a four-year high of 26.5% in March. A rise in interest rates since October 2002 has slowed economic activity by boosting borrowing costs.
Sources: Reuters, Latin-Focus, Bloomberg
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: AF Intercambio, Atrium Turismo, Azics Intercambio Cultural, BICS, Britannia International English, Circuito Mundial, Esquema Internacional, Expand Language Services, Friends in the World, Global Way, ICCE Intercambio, ICL International Center for Languages, Improvement, Integrity Exchange Student Agency, Nascente Turismo, Pride, True Way.
Brazilian agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Australian College of English, various; Shafston International College, Brisbane; University of New South Wales, Sydney. In Canada: Bodwell College, Vancouver, BC; Centre Linguista, various; Hawthorn Canada Language Centre, Vancouver, BC; ILSC, various; Languages International, Toronto; LSC, various; Language Connection International, various; Pacific Gateway International College, various; Pacific Language Institute, various; Tamwood International College, Vancouver, BC; Western Town College, various. In Italy: Centro Fiorenza, Florence; Linguadue, Milan, Linguaviva, Florence. In France: Accord, Paris. In NZ: Cambridge High School, Cambridge; Crown English Language Academy, Auckland; Language Schools New Zealand, various; Unique New Zealand, Auckland; Worldwide School of English, Auckland. In Spain: Don Quijote, various; Enforex, various. In the UK: Beet Language Centre, Bournemouth; Bell, various; Evendine College, London; ELC, Bristol; Hampstead School of English, London; King's Schools, various; King Street College, London; Milner School of English, London, Swan School of English, Oxford; Swandean School of English, Worthing. In the USA: Converse International School of Languages, various; ELS Language Centers, various; FLS International, Pasadena, CA; International Center for American English, San Diego, CA; Pine Manor College, Chesnut Hill, MA; Lexicon College, Boulder, CO; New England School of English, Boston, MA; University of California Riverside, Riverside, CA; Wesli, Madison, WI. Worldwide: Aspect ILA; Embassy CES; International House; Shane Global Village; Sprachcaffe.