Turkish agents report strong business

10 April, 2014

Eighty per cent of Turkish agents enjoyed an increase in business during 2013, according to the results of agency association UED's member survey, presented by President, Eren Göker, at the recent Alphe Istanbul 2014 conference.

Meetings at the Alphe Istanbul 2014 workshop, where UED unveiled their member data for 2013

When comparing 2013 business trends with the previous year, 48 per cent of UED’s 44 members said business increased between one and 20 per cent, 16 per cent of agencies returned 21-to-40 per cent growth, and 12 per cent enjoyed increasing trade of between 41 and 60 per cent. Only eight per cent of UED members said business declined, while 12 per cent recorded a stable year.

The findings of the UED member survey echo Study Travel Magazine’s recent survey of business trends in Turkey, which reported an average growth of 11.9 per cent.

The UK was again the most popular destination for Turkish students in 2013 across a range of sectors, accounting for 23 per cent of language student bookings, 34 per cent of summer school bookings and 20 per cent of higher education students in the UED survey.

For language study, the USA was second on 21 per cent, followed by Germany (nine), Malta (eight) and Ireland (seven), with similar percentages recorded in the summer school sector, albeit with Canada taking fifth place from Ireland. Turkey once again demonstrated itself to be a relatively long-term market, with only 15 per cent of language course bookings being less than four weeks in duration in 2013; courses of eight-to-12 weeks had the largest share at 26 per cent. STM’s survey similarly recorded an average stay of 12 weeks.

In higher education trends, the USA was the second most popular destination on 19 per cent, followed by Canada (13), Germany (11) and Austria (10).

Commenting on growth in Germany, Gokhan Islamoglu, UED Coordinator, told Study Travel Magazine that interest in the language was fuelled by the attractiveness of a German degree. While it is difficult to get into Turkish universities, it is relatively easy for Turkish students to get accepted in Germany, he said, while the country offered quality degrees at comparatively low fees. Islamoglu added that German was a preferred third language among those that already speak English.

UED’s annual tracking of visa approval rates for student visa applications through member agencies revealed very high rates of acceptance in Ireland (99 per cent), Malta (97) and the UK (95). “At UED, we have good relations with all consulates and embassies located in Turkey. However, I think these three countries have better understanding of our country and market’s needs and made important regulations and studies for a more effectively operating visa system, which is necessary to have more Turkish students,” said Islamoglu. He also praised the efforts of Ireland in creating a special visa scheme and marketing efforts for Turkey and said the results of this were evident in 2013.

Among the main study destinations, Australia had the lowest acceptance rate at 80 per cent, while Canada had 84 per cent acceptance. In those cases where visas were denied, insufficient funds was the most commonly cited reason at 36 per cent, followed by suspicious travel purposes on 32 per cent.

The UED survey also showed the importance of b2b workshops to the agency sector in Turkey, with 80 per cent of agents confirming they had attended a student/agent event in 2013, compared with only 48 per cent attending student fairs.

Göker outlined opportunities for international educators looking towards the Turkish market, highlighting that the country has relatively low average English language proficiency, while in-country English language courses are expensive, and also referred to the “critical shortage” of domestic higher education places.  The UED presentation also contained information on the association’s background and 44 members, the structure of the educational system in Turkey and the importance of recognition of institutions by Turkey’s Higher Education Council (YOK).

The UED presentation took place at the Alphe Istanbul conference last week, which attracted representatives from 87 agencies and 68 educational institutions for three days of business meetings and networking opportunities at the Marmara Hotel Taksim. Seventeen different student markets were represented by the agents in attendance, an increase over 14 in 2013, while the educators covered 13 study travel destinations.

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