Feltom explores changing ELT market mix

12 May, 2014

The nationality and age mix of Malta’s ELT industry is diversifying, although fewer students and longer stays led to a decline in industry revenue last year, according to a new report released by language school association Feltom.

Photo Credit: www.visitmalta.com

The findings of the ELT Industry report 2014, produced in collaboration with Deloitte, showed that the 18-to-25 age group became the largest student cohort for Malta’s English language schools, increasing from 33 per cent share in 2012 to 40 per cent last year. The formerly dominant 0-to-17 age group declined from 35 per cent to 25 per cent.

As previously reported, the government National Statistics Office data for 2013 revealed an 8.4 per cent fall in student arrivals, but a 3.3 per cent rise in students weeks, with average length of stay increasing by 12.8 per cent to 3.1 weeks.

The ELT Industry report highlights the nationality market share by student weeks, and the largest source country by this measure, Russia, increased student weeks to 35,447 and market share to 15 per cent. Italy in second and Germany in third both lost market share, falling to 10 per cent and 9 per cent respectively.

There were increases in student weeks and market share for the longer haul markets of Japan, Korea, Turkey and Brazil.

The Deloitte report also revealed that the shift in the sales mix towards longer term bookings, more adult students and different markets had resulted in a reduction in average revenue per student week of 6.6 per cent, down from €293.90 (US$404.50) in 2012 to €274.40 (US$377.70) in 2013. Total revenue for the industry was estimated to have fallen by 3.5 per cent.

The report also recorded a 26 per cent reduction in gross operating profit. The decrease was caused by a range of factors including the decline in revenue and an eight per cent rise in staff costs.

Feltom CEO, Genevieve Abela, who presented the findings at a special press launch event, said that competitiveness remains a key issue for both the industry and schools. “Efforts to streamline costs, increase productivity and enhance efficiencies must continue whilst the industry needs to be responsive and tap into new markets.” She said initial feedback on marketing efforts in Asia, the Middle East and South America had been encouraging.

Opening the launch event, the Minister for Employment and Education, Evarist Bartolo, praised Feltom for being the main stakeholder in the industry for many years. He also stressed the importance of English language proficiency and announced that a government pilot project aimed at improving proficiency will be launched in the summer.

In the concluding address, Edward Zammit Lewis, Minister for Tourism, spoke about the development of niche tourism and how the ELT industry had been an important pillar of the tourism industry, now accounting for five per cent of all arrivals. He said the government was committed to empowering the industry to reinvent itself and target new markets, and also spoke about plans to market Malta during low-season months.

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