Italy is Europe's fourth largest economy.
Preliminary figures for year-end 2001 indicate that GDP grew by 1.8%, according to the Italian employer's group, Confindustria. It forecast further growth of 1.3% in 2002 and 2.6% in 2003.
Italy's annual inflation in December 2001 remained steady at 2.4%, unchanged from November.
Italian consumer confidence returned to pre- September 11 levels in December, according to the Italian research organisation, ISAE. The consumer confidence index increased to 124.4 for December, from 121.6 in November.
Agents named a range of language programmes that they work with, including, inAustralia: UNSW, Sydney. In Canada: International Language School of Canada, various; Language Studies Canada, various. In France: Centre International d'Antibes, Antibes; Ciel, Brest; IS Aix-en-Provence, Aix-en-Provence; Paris Langue, Paris. In Germany: Colon Language Centre, Hamburg; IH, Freiburg; Prolog, Berlin. In Ireland: Alpha College, Dublin; Emerald School of English, Dublin; Horner School of English, Dublin; Language Centre of Ireland, Dublin; Morehampton Institute, Dublin. In New Zealand: IH, Auckland. In Portugal: Cial, Lisbon. In Spain: Colegio de Espana, Salamanca; Colegio Internacional, Alicante; Estudio Internacional Sampere, Madrid; IH Clic, Seville. In the UK: Bell, Cambridge; Edinburgh School of English, Edinburgh; English in Chester, Chester; Frances King School of English, London; Hilderstone College, Broadstairs; Torbay Language Centre, Torbay; Oxford English Centre, Oxford; Pilgrims Language Courses, Canterbury; Regent, London; St Giles, London; Thames Valley Cultural Centres, Windsor; Westbourne Academy, Bournemouth. In the USA: ELS, New York, NY; University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA. Worldwide: Language Studies International.
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: ALP, Apeducational, Atlas, Auriga Servizi, Coming, I Centri, MB Scambi Culturali, Prolinguis, StudioLingue Meridiano Viaggi
After slow growth in 2000, Italian language travel agents report that business was generally better in 2001. However, the events last year in the USA leave agents cautious in their forecasts for 2002.
The nine agencies that took part in our survey placed a total of 2,294 students in 2001
Individual agencies placed between 60 and 570 students on language courses per year
Average growth of combined agency business in 2001 was 10.8 per cent
The average commission rate offered by language schools was 18.1 per cent
47 per cent of Italian students studied overseas in July and a further 28 per cent in August
61 per cent of Italian students stayed with host families
Five agents charged a handling fee of between US$50 and US$100
The number of countries represented by agencies ranged from six to 24
Italian agents each formed between two and 30 new partnerships with schools last year
Italian agents found around 27 per cent of their new schools in LTM/ETM
||Most popular courses
Summer vac. 26%
Au pair 4%
Academic prep 3%
Language + work 3%
|Reasons for language travel
|Studies at home 50%
Current work 28%
|How do agencies find new schools to represent?
||How do agencies recruit clients?
Language Travel Magazine 27%
Lang. fairs & expos 10%
Press advertising 6%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
The Italian language travel market fared better in 2001 than in 2000, with 78 per cent of our agent respondents reporting growth of between five and 30 per cent in 2001. In our Italy survey last year, overall growth was just under eight per cent (see Language Travel Magazine, February 2001, pages 18-19). This year, growth across all agency business averaged a more favourable 10.8 per cent. Agencies put their success down to promotional campaigns and their growing reputation in the market.
There was a greater concentration of students in the 16-to-24 age band in 2001, accounting for 64 per cent of students compared with 49 per cent in 2000. Eight-to-11 year olds accounted for one percentage point more in 2001 compared with 2000, with one agent saying this sector was the one to watch in the future, owing to the fact that foreign languages are now taught in primary schools. Bookings from 12-to-15 year olds were down by seven percentage points this year, while 25-to-30 year olds slipped by eight points. Business executives made up eight per cent of clients.
Language and destination trends
Spanish, which was in fourth place in 2000, was the second-most popular language after English in 2001. In terms of destination, the USA slipped from joint-second place to joint third with Spain in 2001. The effects of the September 11 attacks had not yet filtered through to the Italian market as 75 per cent of Italians took a language travel course during July and August. A number of agents confirmed that Ireland and Australia were growing in popularity.
Italian agents relied heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations for new bookings and this alone accounted for an average of 45 per cent of all bookings. Only four Italian agents had a website, although one agency was an online operation only, which meant that across all agency business, the web generated 19 per cent of clients.
Forecast for 2002
At the end of last year, Italian agents remained cautious in their forecasts for 2002, owing to the negative effects on the market of the September 11 events - which one agent said may cause bookings to halve this year. A more optimistic agent was expecting an increase in business owing to the fact that they had expanded their range of schools, coupled with the growing usage of the Internet in Italy.