This week, Bernhard Roters, President of regional Spanish language school group Asociación Español en Andalucía (EEA), talks about recent trends and activities in the popular Spanish language destination.

Can you explain a little about the background, membership and activities of EEA? 

Established in 1991, EEA is an association of 30 Spanish schools all over Andalucía in the cities or Provinces of Sevilla, Granada, Cádiz and Málaga. The main aim of the association is to promote Andalusia as a destination for Spanish language study programmes and showcase the quality and diversity of the Andalusian school members.

In addition, EEA lobbies the regional authorities (Tourism, Educational and Cultural Institutions) and Instituto Cervantes. EEA is one of the founder members of Fedele, the Spanish Federation of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language

What are the attractions of Andalucía as a study destination for international students? 

Andalucía has mountains including skiing resorts, world famous and natural beaches, and important cultural cities and hidden villages. But above all, it represents the spirit of traditional Spain, through its history and famous monuments, flamenco, street life and very open communicative people. It is the ideal place to learn Spanish off the beaten track, and certainly the most important region of Spain to study Spanish. Andalusia is the Spanish region where the most important Spanish artists come from...Lorca, Machado, Alberti, Picasso, Velazquez, Murillo, Paco de Lucía, Manuel de Falla, El Camarón, Antonio Banderas,  Alejandro Sanz, Sara Baras, Joaquín Cortés, just to mention a few.

How has the last 12 months been for EEA members in terms of international student recruitment?

Like other industries, we depend on economic growth and stability in our different markets of origin. After market stagnation over the past five years, 2014 has started very strongly and is very promising, although we may find there are some difficulties due to the exchange rate of emerging economy currencies (the Brazilian real, the Turkish lira, etc.)

Are there any challenges that schools in Andalucía currently face in student recruitment?

The visa issues in some emerging countries such as Russia and China are a concern, as well as sometimes disloyal competition from universities subsidised with public money. Some Spanish universities have created their own language departments, and it is very difficult for private language schools to compete with this.

What marketing activities does EEA have planned for this year?

We will host some fam trips after the Fedele Annual meeting, and probably a fam trip after the Alphe workshop in Málaga in October. We will hold direct missions and workshops  with Spanish teachers ' associations and agencies abroad, and continue promotion to teachers and students through the Instituto Cervantes network around the world. We will be concentrating on some emerging markets for Spanish language schools, such as India, China and Brazil. We are conducting missions in partnership with trade commissions and tourism boards. It is very important when marketing in new countries to go with the embassies.

The current issue of Study Travel Magazine, contains a regional focus feature on Andalucía as a study travel destination.

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