Language tourism in Spain is approaching pre-pandemic levels

by Lorraine Williamson
language students

The number of language students travelling to Spain is rising again. All schools that are members of FEDELE (Spanish Federation of Associations of Spanish Schools for Foreigners) registered a 29.43% increase in the number of foreign students last year.

A total of 133,452 students used their services in 2023. According to FEDELE, the language schools have contributed more than €400 million to the Spanish economy.

These figures are higher than in 2017 and 2018 and are at a very similar level to the record figure for 2019. Despite the improvement in language tourism figures, FEDELE believes that the figures would have been better if the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language had not faced any problems. Such as obtaining visas in some markets, the slow recovery last year of air connections with foreign countries after China opened its borders. And, of course, inflation. There has also been a decline in the number of students in longer courses from Ukraine and Russia.

Young people in particular come for language tourism

According to the results of a study recently presented by FELELE, the most common age of students is between 12 and 18 years old (28.56%), followed by the 19 to 25 years old (26.85%) and 26 to 45 years old (25.41%).

Cogesa Expats

Here are the countries where most language learners come from:

  • Italy
  • German
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Russian Federation
  • Poland
  • Austria
  • Morocco

Movies and series nice stimulus

On the other hand, the report points out that Spanish-language series or movies, knowledge of Spanish cuisine, and Spanish cultural festivities are the main factors influencing the influx of international students.

The survey, which is based on the results of a survey of the 103 centres carried out by FEDELE at the end of 2023, highlights the uncertainties of the past year, a legacy of 2022. “Nevertheless, we see how the centres have managed to overcome the obstacles, from the war in Ukraine to inflation”.

2024 looks set to be a good year for language tourism

In addition, expectations for 2024 are positive and foresee significant growth. The forecast is that 150,000 students will come to Spain to learn the language.

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