Global Language Travel Industry struggles according to ALTO’s latest Report

The Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO) has released the results of its quarterly survey, the ALTO Pulse, for the second quarter of 2012, with agents appearing to be more optimistic over business trends than educators.


Of the 399 agents that completed the survey this quarter, 45 per cent said the number of bookings had increased over the same period last year, an increase of four per cent over the previous survey in 2012 Q1. Seventy per cent of agents were optimistic regarding the next quarter, with only seven per cent negative.

This time 229 language schools completed the survey, and 46 per cent of these reported an increase of commencements in 2012 Q2 (down from 50 per cent in the last survey), while 28 per cent reported a decline (compared with 23 per cent in the Q1 results). Consequently, only 58 per cent of educators felt positive regarding the forthcoming quarter – down from 66 per cent last time – and 17 per cent were negative.

In terms of individual countries, schools in Malta showed the most positive trends, with 70 per cent recording growth over the same period last year, while Ireland, Germany and France were all close behind on 67 per cent. However, all four of these countries recorded higher growth in the 2012 Q1 survey. Some 75 per cent of schools in New Zealand posted a decline, compared with 62 per cent in the Q1 survey, and 46 per cent of schools in the UK reported declining numbers, compared with only 20 per cent last time.

Saudi Arabia was named as the top growth market by schools in the USA, New Zealand and Ireland, while Brazil was also named top growth market three times – by Canada, Argentina and France. Schools in four different countries (the UK, Malta, France and Ireland) highlighted Spain as the country showing the largest decline – possibly an effect of reductions in the Spanish Becas scholarship scheme this year.

Among agency respondents, Mexico was the most buoyant, with 78 per cent of agents there recording growth, followed by China (70) and Japan (67). Some rather uneven trends were recorded in terms of growth destinations: the UK was named six times as the top growth destination, and eight times as the top declining destination. Indeed, agents from Spain, Pakistan and Russia labelled the UK as both.

For the first time, the ALTO Pulse has included some comments from contributors, with visa restrictions, economic trends and the London 2012 Olympics being highlighted as factors contributing to downward business trends.

The full ALTO Pulse results for 2012 Q2 can be viewed here.