Its annual survey, completed by 26 language tour operators from across the country, found that the total number of participants in 2017 decreased by an average of 12% compared to the previous year. However, sales increased by 16%.
The market analysis, conducted in cooperation with the Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences, shows that English remains the most popular language by far. But demand for French and Spanish courses has risen.
“It is getting more difficult to get clients, because there are so many ways to book”
English courses made up for 75% of all booked language courses, with 90% of young learners and 57% of adults choosing to study the language.
One fifth (21%) of all adults and more than two thirds of all young learners (70%) went to the UK – overall it marks a 5% increase on last year’s numbers.
Malta (-7%), Australia (-24%), New Zealand (-15%) and the US (-16%) all saw declines in percentages as destination countries on last year’s figures.
Along with the UK, Canada (+35%), Ireland (+7%) and South Africa (+9%) all faired better.
According to FDSV managing director Julia Richter, the UK is and always was the first choice for German students for learning English.
“The student numbers for the UK have remained very stable over the last 10 years. Trends, due to popularity have slightly changed to other destinations, like Ireland or Malta,” she said.
“The US, New Zealand and Australia are more interesting for long term students, which we unfortunately don’t have that much [of] in Germany.”
“People aged over 50, today are still very active in life”
The average length of stay for all learners is two weeks and costs €1,512, according to the survey.
Commenting on the drop in total students, Richter said competition had led to the decrease.
“It is getting more difficult to get clients, because there are so many ways and options where to book,” she said. “You can book directly at the schools, as more schools invest in direct marketing.”
Sascha Schmidt, area manager for Germany at ESL – Sprachreisen told The PIE News that there had been small shift to the UK from other destinations.
“There was a decrease when the Brexit came up and we saw a shift to Ireland but now it looks that the clients are coming back to UK again,” he said.
“US is less and I think Mr. Trump is one of the reasons.”
The numbers of learners aged over 50 doubled in 2017. It made up 9% of language travel participants, up from 6% in 2016.
“People aged over 50, today are still very active in life,” Richter said. “They are not ‘old’, they are important employees, they have the money for traveling and they are looking for new challenges. They might have missed out when the were young.”
Schmidt also told The PIE News that ESL offers special programs tailored to over 50s.
In 2018, FSDV widened its membership to include German language travel operators who offer courses in Germany. It has received applications from four language schools applying for membership, which means the association will have 11 incoming members by the end of the year.