Poland's economy has been hailed as successful and open, although it has slowed recently. GDP growth went from 4% in 2000 to just 1.1% last year, slightly lower than the 1.2% target set in the revised budget law.
Unemployment is one of the country's most acute problems. In December, the unemployment rate stood at 17.4% - the highest since 1989. It is expected to have risen to 20% in early 2002.
The average monthly salary in the enterprise sector in 2001 was 7.1% higher than in 2000. Purchasing power of the average salary increased by 1.6%, while inflation stood at 5.5%.
There are hopes of improvement for the Polish economy in the second quarter of 2002 because of improved sales forecasts, even in the construction industry, which has been in crisis for 18 months. According to analysts, GDP may grow by 1.5% this year, with the second half of the year bringing visible improvements.
Sources: ft.com, Polish Market Review Ltd., Embassy of Poland in Ljubljana
Thank you to the following agencies for taking part in our survey: CUJ Albion; Profile Agency; LEC Centre; Almatur; Oxford Holidays; Guide Service Travel Agency; Omnibus Language School; School of Languages Maly Rynek; Poliglota
Polish agents named a range of language programmes they work with, including, in Australia: Sydney College of English, Sydney; Sydney English Language Centre, Sydney. In Austria: Cultura Wien, Vienna. In Canada: King George International College, Vancouver, BC. In Germany: Carl Duisberg Centren, Berlin; Did, various; IH Freiburg, Freiburg. In Ireland: Emerald Cultural Institute, Dublin. In Malta: Educational English Centre, Kappara. In Spain: Enforex, Madrid. In the UK: Beet Language Centre, Bournemouth; Country Cousins, Ilfracombe; Eastbourne School of English, Eastbourne; English Language Training, London; Euroaccent, London; Hampstead School of English, London; Harrow House, Swanage; IH Torquay, Torquay; ITS, Hastings; London School of English, London; LSI, various; Malvern House, London; Select English, Cambridge; St George International, London; Suzanne Sparrow Plymouth Language School, Plymouth; University of Gloucester, Cheltenham; University of Wales, Aberystwyth. International: Embassy CES.
Many agents in Poland reported static bookings last year, with future market growth looking unlikely in the current economic climate.
The nine agencies that took part in our survey placed a total of 2,021 students in 2001
Individual agencies placed between 20 and 800 students on language courses per year
Four out of nine agencies reported stagnant bookings for 2001
Average length of stay was 3.2 weeks
The average commission rate offered by language schools was 20 per cent
Individual bookings accounted for 72 per cent of business
Summer programmes were favoured by 48 per cent of clients
The number of countries represented by agencies ranged from one to 20
US$291 per week was an average spend for tuition and accommodation
Polish agents formed between 0 and 20 new partnerships with schools last year
||Age range of clients
|Most popular courses
||Reasons for language travel
Lang. + work 7%
Academic prep. 6%
Summer vac. 4%
Language plus 3%
||Current work 42%
Studies at home 38%
Studies overseas 4%
|How do agencies recruit clients?
||How do agencies find new schools to represent?
|Word of mouth 38%
Press advertising 26%
Lang. fairs and expos 14%
Other press 6%
|Percentage of agents who recognised each of the following organisations
CEC Network 11%
British Council 100%
Just under half of the nine Polish agencies surveyed this year reported that bookings in 2001 remained similar to the previous year's figures. While one agency reported phenomenal growth of 150 per cent, discounting this figure, bookings overall fell by 3.75 per cent. Two agents cited economic concerns contributing to a fall in bookings of between 15 and 30 per cent.
Polish agency business remains weighted in the teenage summer market, with 12-to-18 year olds accounting for 48 per cent of business. Seventy-nine per cent of language trips were taken during July and August, and host family accommodation was a popular choice, chosen by 81 per cent of clients. The average length of stay was 3.2 weeks, similar to last year's average of three weeks (see Language Travel Magazine, May 2001, pages 18-19).
Language and destination trends
The UK remained the unanimous favourite destination overall, with 72 per cent of clients studying there. Other English language learning destinations included the USA, Ireland and Australia, and two agents pointed to an increased interest in Australia and Ireland. Overall, 80 per cent of students were interested in studying English - chiefly for their studies at home or for work - while German was favoured by a further 11 per cent of clients.
Our survey respondents estimated that 91 per cent of clients arrived in their offices with a fixed idea of which country they wanted to study in, while 49 per cent had decided on the city, and just five per cent had chosen a school. After consultation, 15 per cent changed their mind about the country, 43 per cent decided on a different city, while 71 per cent opted for a different language school. In terms of finding new schools to represent, agents found almost half of new partners at workshops, while fairs and expos, Language Travel Magazine and the Internet were other means of finding new schools.
Forecast for 2002
With economic concerns in mind, many of the Polish agents surveyed believe the market will remain stagnant, with little actual growth this year. However, work experience programmes were highlighted as a growth area, while the opportunities for working in Australia are also expected to fuel demand for this destination.