Maura Leão, President of Belta, presenting the market research
Belta report shows growth in Brazilian outbound market

Brazilian students are staying longer overseas and spending more per trip, according to new research released by Brazilian agency association Belta, which also demonstrates the strong agent influence in the outbound sector.

The Belta Seal Market Research 2017 builds on initial findings released earlier in the year and is comprised of a survey of 106 agencies representing 618 sales outlets, and a complementary questionnaire completed by 1,145 former or prospective students.


While two-to-three month programmes still represented the largest share of agency business at 37.8 per cent, this declined by around ten per cent compared with the previous year's survey, while there was a 6.7 per cent increase in courses lasting 12 months or longer.


In the survey of students that had studied abroad in 2016, 25.5 per cent had pursued undergraduate programmes, an increase compared with 19 per cent in the 2015 research. Language courses remained the most popular programme type, albeit with a slightly reduced market share at 39.2 per cent. There were also increased shares for language plus work and postgraduate courses.


From the agency survey, Belta calculated that the average investment per client on a study abroad trip was US$8,902, an increase of 82 per cent compared with the previous year.


While the figure is likely to have boosted by the increased spending power of the Brazilian real against the dollar during the last year - on March 1st 2016 the real was worth US$0.25, compared with US$0.32 on March 1st 2017 - Belta indicated that students were investing more and staying longer.


"The increase in the average amount invested is due to a greater demand for long-term programmes. The students are more mature and, consequently, in addition to language courses, they're also looking for higher education to match job opportunities," said Maura Leão, President of Belta.


The total sum moved by the sector was US$2.2 billion in 2016, Belta said, based on the previously announced estimate of 247,000 students going abroad in the year, which was a 14 per cent increase compared with the previous year.


Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of responding agencies said that they experienced growth in 2016, while 22 per cent said they suffered a decline.


As reported previously, the top five destinations remained unchanged in the 2017 research: Canada, the USA, Australia, Ireland and the UK. The main motivations cited for country choice by agency clients were: favourable exchange rates; life quality; the ability to work; a good structure for international students; and ease in the visa process.


Building on the initial research which showed the most popular courses sold by agencies, the latest Belta survey ranked the most common products sold. The top three courses (language, language plus work and holiday programmes) were followed by travel insurance, high school courses, air tickets, professional diplomas, assistance with visas, currency exchange operations and undergraduate courses.


Just slightly less than three quarters of responding students (74.7 per cent) had booked their 2016 study abroad programme through an agency: 68.1 per cent in person; and 6.6 per cent online via an agency.


With multiple responses possible, the top reasons cited for the choice of agency were trust (41.6 per cent), custom-tailored services (30.3), ease of contact (29.9), payment methods compatible with budget (22.9) and price of programme (22.5).


Maura said, "Research shows that there has been an increase in the demand to hire a programme from an educational travel agency, because consulting with a specialised consultant offers significantly decreased chances of making a wrong decision. The specialised consultants at the Belta Seal agencies are prepared to help with issues from financial planning to the best programme to meet the person's needs."


In terms of agency profile, the authors of the report found that 85 per cent of agencies had an online presence, but only 43 per cent are currently selling programmes online. The overall average number of clients per agency was 271, but was higher for those with online sales (329); the average turnover per responding agency was US$2,412,442 in 2016.


In the survey of prospective students, language plus work programmes were the most desired at 33.9 per cent, followed by standard language courses (22) and academic postgraduate courses (9.4).


The research was released at a special event where Belta celebrated its 25th anniversary. "Belta was founded by professionals who already had the premise of sharing experiences of promoting educational travel in Brazil, through ethical and serious work. Having some healthy competition, based on practices that are not harmful, brings benefits to all. Today, Belta is a benchmark in many countries, and that makes us feel very proud," said Maura.


The association also received a Nobel Partner of Canada medal from the Consul General of Canada in Brazil during the event, acknowledging Belta as one of the 50 main businesses and bilateral development partners of Canada.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor