ALTO survey shows industry business trends

10 July, 2014

More than half of the language schools participating in the quarterly business trends survey conducted by the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) reported growth in student commencements in the first three months of 2014, while agencies experienced mixed trends.

Agents: has the number of students you send overseas for a language course grown or declined compared with the same period in the previous year? Source - ALTO Pulse – 1st Quarter 2014

The ALTO Pulse – 1st Quarter 2014 survey, found 51 per cent of the 160 participating language schools had an increase in international students compared with the same period last year, while 34 per cent remained stable and 15 per cent reported a decrease.

The 276 participating study travel agencies reported a slightly less positive trading environment, with 47 per cent recording growth in 2014 Q1, 26 per cent experiencing stable business and 27 per cent suffering a decline.

Of the individual language study destinations, 78 per cent of schools in Ireland recorded growth in 2014 Q1, compared with the same period last year, followed by Spain (58 per cent), New Zealand (57 per cent) and Canada (56 per cent). Spain was noticeable as the only country in the survey where no schools reported declines.

Thirty-three per cent of schools in Australia reported a decrease in students in the first three months of 2014, which stands in contrast to the growth being recorded in the English language sector as a whole. Nonetheless, the Australian school respondents had the highest expectation of a positive trend in the next quarter (78 per cent), followed by France (77) and Spain (75).

In terms of growth markets, six countries identified Brazil as a top three growing market, although it was also a top three declining market for three countries.

Among outbound markets, the highest rate of 2014 Q1 business growth was in Pakistan, where 78 per cent of agencies reported an increase, followed by Nepal (70 per cent) and Thailand (60 per cent). The biggest drop came in Russia, where 40 per cent of agencies reported a decline, perhaps reflecting how the previously reported political tensions and depreciation of the currency have affected agency business in the country.

Looking ahead, all of the agents in Nigeria were optimistic of a business increase in Q2, and there was also positive expectations from agents in Nepal (90 per cent), China (82 per cent), India, Thailand and Colombia (all 80 per cent).

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