Agents also reported that global security risks impacted booking lead-times in 2015, with German students, traditionally early bookers, confirming reservations later in the year.
The UK remained the top destination, attracting 48% of all students, this despite seeing enrolments fall 5.5% from 2014. FDSV chalked up the decrease to the strength of the British pound to the euro.
Malta, the market’s second most popular destination, also lost ground, claiming 12.7% of German students compared to 14.6% in 2014.
“The UK remained the top destination, attracting 48% of all students, this despite seeing enrolments fall 5.5% from 2014”
Ireland however, saw enrolments edge up slightly to claim a 2.9% share compared to 2.2% in 2014.
German bookings for Malta and Ireland are reflective of each market’s annual statistics with Malta reporting overall declines and Ireland experiencing growth.
While growth in major English language destinations was sclerotic, Asian and African destinations saw an 8% increase in interest, claiming almost 9% of all outbound numbers. Interest in these regions is driven by demand for volunteering, work travel and study/travel programmes said FDSV.
According to Travel Works managing director Torston Pankok, the increased interest in African and Asian programmes denotes a trend among German youths to take a gap year.
Travel Works has been offering volunteer and work/travel programmes since 2001, but saw a similar increase of 7-8% in demand.
“More and more kids are looking for an alternative when they finish high school before they go to university,” Pankok told The PIE News. “Nowadays it’s more common compared to five years ago that young people are taking these gaps years.”
English remained the most in-demand language, attracting 67% of all adult students and 93% of students under 18.
Among adults, Spanish was the second most popular language (14.5%) followed by French (7.4%) and Italian (3.9%).
Among juniors, French took the second slot attracting 3.1% of all bookings followed by Spanish with 1.3%.
“More and more kids are looking for an alternative when they finish high school before they go to university”
Bookings from 14-30 year old grew by 5% but the junior market, which made up over three quarters of bookings in 2013, accounted for just 58% of all business.
The decline in the junior market could partly be explained by demographics, however, as Germany’s youth population shrinks.
FDSV respondents also noted a rise in later bookings. Julia Richter, managing director at FDSV said people are delaying their bookings to asses the security situation in the destination country.
And Richter expects the security concerns to continue to impact bookings this year. “I am sure some students have shifted their language trip to next year, hoping, that the general terrorist attacks are getting under control,” she told The PIE News.
Pankok said 2015 was a strong year for Travel Works but year on year bookings for April and May are down. “I think especially the parents are quite unsure. They won’t know what they’ll do this year as we had the terrorism attacks in Brussels and in Paris before,” he noted.
“We feel that parents could say to their children ‘probably you won’t go abroad this year’ or probably stay in Germany to learn English in an English and adventure camp.”