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8% growth in Spain’s Spanish language sector

Spain’s Spanish language travel market grew 8% in 2011, it was reported at the ninth annual Spanish Federation of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language (FEDELE) convention last week. However, the single digit growth represents a slowdown from the 83% boom the sector saw from 2000 to 2007.

School representation at the convention was down but agent attendees remained the same compared to 2011.

FEDELE members attract more than half of the international students studying in Spain

“We’ve seen a rise in student numbers but a drop in the length of student weeks,” said FEDLE’s director, Ana Cózar. “We haven’t had the continual growth that we saw from 2000-2007 but we’re stable.”

According to market intelligence company Student Marketing, Spain caters to 12% of the 2 million language students that study abroad each year worldwide – garnering revenues of around €462 million.

“We haven’t had the continual growth that we saw from 2000-2007 but we’re stable.”

Of FEDELE’s 85 members schools – who attract more than half of the international students studying in Spain, around 136,000 – it said 30% reported a 15-25% growth in 2011. Meanwhile, 43% saw increased student spending.

Cózar told The PIE News FEDELE was “cautiously optimistic” about the data, however at the federation’s General Meeting, presidents from the regional associations that make up FEDELE spoke of weak growth despite the stability.

Other sources told The PIE News that they doubted the official prognosis and individual operators were actually seeing a slump.

In a positive sign, Cózar said an MoU signed with Student Marketing in April had resulted in more interest from new markets this year, especially in Asia. Through the agreement FEDLE used Student Marketing data to promote schools to agents overseas.

The convention also saw another strong showing of agencies from growing source markets such as Russia, China, Japan, the UK and Germany. However, participating schools were down from 53 to 42 which Cózar chalked up to global economic restrictions.

“We are a young sector in the language tourism industry and we want to keep improving,” she said, adding that increasing participation was a priority for next year’s convention.

There are some 600 language schools in Spain. FEDELE members differentiate themselves by carrying either Instituto Cervantes accreditation or the Quality in the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language (CEELE), as well as meeting the federation’s quality assurance standards.

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