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Germany: short notice bookings “challenge”

Numbers of German students travelling abroad with FDSV members fell by 7.24% in 2021, compared to the year before, but as the market recovers, short notice bookings are posing a challenge for the language travel sector.

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In 2021, 58.44% of clients pursued an English course; in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 it was 79.06%

While the country’s outbound student market “contracted further” during the last year, the outlook for the year ahead is positive, the association for outbound tour operators and inbound German language schools noted.

The further decline of 7.24% in 2021, represents a total decrease of more than 90% compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the association said.

It also found a tendency for those who could travel to opt for fellow EU countries, “where internal mobility was largely more straightforward”, or choosing domestic-based camps.

“The impact of Covid entry rules was evident in the data,” FDSV explained.

While Malta saw overall fewer students in 2021, it remained the top destination for FDSV clients, accounting for just over 20% of students. Spain followed (+4.51% on 2020) and France (+6.34%)

The annual FDSV Market Analysis is based on responses from 17 outbound tour operator members who represent around 18% of the German market.

FDSV recorded a UK market share fall to 6.3% in summer 2021, which it put down to quarantine rules. Pre-covid the country’s market share among FDSV members stood at 50.11%.

Still, the UK faired better than Canada and the US, which lost “almost all market share in 2021”, while Australia and New Zealand received no students due to border restrictions.

More than one in five clients undertook foreign language courses in German-speaking countries, while domestic camps attracted 40.03% of young learners, while Malta saw 27.58%, and Italy 9.32%.

Local camps may have boosted the increase in the junior market. In 2020, juniors accounted for just over 30% of business, it added. In 2021, it returned to “a more typical ratio” of 57.46%.

Difficulties of travelling to major English-speaking destinations were also reflected in overall language choices, FDSV said. “In 2021, 58.44% of clients pursued an English course; in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 it was 79.06%,” the organisation noted.

“The Bildungsurlaub educational leave program is also picking up”

Average stay increased slightly to 2.03 weeks in 2021 and average spend on a trip was €1,388, a fall of 1.77% on 2020.

FDSV added that it is “cautiously positive” for 2022, with a “significant rebound” expected in early spring for the adult market.

“Members also expect strong demand from school leavers who have missed out over the last two years,” it said. “The Bildungsurlaub educational leave program is also picking up.

“With regards to school trips, the outlook is good and the UK is in high demand following the quarantine-affected year in 2021, while enquiries for Malta and Ireland are also increasing. However, with many decisions on school trips being postponed until after Easter, availability for the summer may become an issue.”

Safety is still the top priority, and with parents are waiting until the last minute to decide whether the situation is safe. Bookings are increasingly being made at short notice, posing a challenge for the language travel sector, the organisation added.

“A trend continues to emerge,” FDSV concluded. “Bookings are being made more and more quickly in order to be able to react to any problems and changes. Advice, on the other hand, is becoming more and more complex, which the language tour operators see as an opportunity to position their qualified services on the market.”

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