The impressive figure was shared by the International Association of Language Centres, as sector representatives flocked to Cardiff for the association’s prestigious workshop.

The flagship event in the international study travel industry took place from April 11-14, welcoming around 135 study travel agents from 33 countries and 130 representatives from IALC-accredited schools in 24 countries.

For over four decades, IALC has been at the forefront of independent language centre accreditation, aiming to foster a dynamic community committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences worldwide.

This year’s IALC workshop was hosted by Celtic English Academy, the only IALC language school in Wales, headed up by CEO Shoko Doherty.

“Hosting this significant event is a strategic move to elevate the profile of Wales globally, driving international demand,” said Doherty.

“We are committed to supporting the Welsh government in its goal to welcome over one million international visitors annually, putting Wales firmly on the global map.”

Doherty highlighted the significant impact the sector is set to have on Wales’ economic growth through international trade and inbound visitor economy.

It is estimated the event will contribute approximately £13 million in inbound economic value to the Welsh economy by 2027, including a £2 million direct economic contribution to local households in Cardiff and the Vale area through placing international students with local homestay providers.

The four-day event took place The Parkgate Hotel, with a broad agenda including two full days of B2B meetings, seminars, and three evening events: a welcome reception at Cardiff Castle, the 20th anniversary celebration of Celtic English Academy, and a gala dinner at the National Museum Cardiff.

Event Wales and the VisitWales Travel Trade team supported the event to enhance the delegate experience, including familiarisation visits in Wales, aiming to deepen product knowledge and foster future engagements.

During the event, attendees reflected on how their industry has evolved in recent years, as well as where future opportunities lie.

“Our clients have changed, student expectations have changed, but mainly parents,” said Bogusława Siewierska-Klyta, CEO and founder of Polish agency Project School & Travel, who has been working in the sector for 27 years.

“Summer 2024 is going to be a growth year for the family program”

The agency’s second biggest market after the UK is Spain, which Siewierska-Klyta told The PIE has been a priority area of promotion recently, with boarding schools and academic programs being other areas of growth for the business.

Meanwhile, Paula Bailey, marketing manager at Frances King School of English, told The PIE that “summer 2024 is going to be a growth year for the family program”.

“Parents seem to be really invested in their children’s education,” said Bailey.

Frances King School of English is based in the Kensington area of London, with many families drawn to the program for the premium location which boasts parks and museums.

For many attendees, a highlight of the conference was “Song of Wales”, a newly commissioned piece written by composer Philip Harper which made its world premiere at the IALC 2024 gala night.

The piece, symbolising Welsh music and spirit, and celebrating the ethos of Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, featured performances by the Cory Band, Pendyrus Male Voice Choir, and narration by Wynne Evans, accompanied by poetry from the internationally renowned Welsh creative writer, Menna Elfyn.

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