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Germany: FDSV ‘in starting blocks’ after 85% fall

Language travel participants from Germany dropped by some 85% in 2020 compared to previous results, figures from the country’s tour operator association FDSV have revealed.

Following 13 months of digital-only operations, German students "are even more interested in a traditional language experience abroad", FDSV said. Photo: Unsplash

Bookings for language courses in Germany or a neighbouring German-speaking country rose to 13.3% of all students in 2020

Compiling statistics from some 18 members – representing 18.95% of the country’s 95 providers – the 2020 market analysis found that the number of outbound students fell by 85%. Germany’s 95 language travel providers usually cater to some 160,000 students annually.

Canada and Malta both saw the share of participants from FSDV members increase, despite a lower number of students arriving. Malta hosted 22.7% of travelling students, up from 17.5% the previous year, while Canada saw 9% of the 18 FDSV members’ students – an increase of 6.5% from 2019.

“In a typical year, the UK is the most popular destination for FDSV members,” Julia Richter, FDSV managing director, explained to The PIE.

“However, the UK’s share of business dropped to just 20.4% in 2020. Meanwhile, Malta became the most popular destination amongst those that did travel in 2020, with 22.7% market share.”

Additionally, bookings for language courses in Germany or a neighbouring German-speaking country rose to 13.3% of all students, a double digit (11.1%) increase on 2019, she highlighted.

FDSV members – which announced a consumer protection plan during the pandemic – continue to closely monitor the current Covid-19 developments, before they and their students make decisions about upcoming travel possibilities.

“One thing is clear, however, that the need for further training courses in the field of language continues to be high around the world. In the adult sector, the association expects an increase in bookings again in summer and autumn,” the report read.

“Malta has announced opening steps for the end of May”

“School leavers in particular desire language learning formats and the demand for Bildungsurlaub [educational leave] will also increase sharply after the pandemic.”

Since the previous report in The PIE, there have been no further insolvencies within the FDSV membership. And LAL Sprachreisen, which was set to close, has been taken over by Sprachcaffe.

“The language tour providers are in the starting blocks and customers are just waiting for the moment to start travelling again. Unfortunately, this depends on the political decisions and the progress made in vaccination in each country,” Richter continued.

“The UK is currently doing well – but we are also waiting for a clear signal from politics. Malta has announced opening steps for the end of May.”

Following 13 months of digital-only operations, customers “are even more interested in a traditional language experience abroad”, she added.

“It is difficult to get to know the country and its people online, which is an important part of a language trip!

“So we are very hopeful and waiting for the moment when we can send customers again.

“The demand for language travel remains high, and the hygiene concepts and safety measures implemented by the tour operators and language schools had worked well, so we look very positive in the future.”

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