Málaga at the epicentro of Language Tourism

Written by Bob Burger 24 January 2018

Málaga at the epicentro of Language Tourism
  • Thanks to Malaga Education Week, Language Tourism and the importance of Spanish in the world was the topic of the whole week in Malaga.
  • Public and private entities came together to promote Language Tourism.
  • Speakers encouraged private/public joint overseas initiatives in the promotion of Study in Malaga.   
  • Turespaña’s principal marketing strategy is the pursuit of the Cosmopolitan Tourist, the definition of which is very close to a language school student.

During the first few days of the year, Malaga has seen intense discussions about Language Tourism and the position of Spanish as a key world Language. Today it is the 2nd most spoken mother-tongue language, being the language of 8% of the world’s population.  Spain is the principal destination in the world for learning Spanish and especially Andalucia and Malaga.

Málaga Education Week was organised by NACEM (the Association of Spanish Language Schools in Malaga) with the support of AEEA (Spanish in Andalucia) and FEDELE (Spanish in Spain). This iniative was made possible by the Tourism Department of the Townhall of Malaga and the “Patronato de Turismo” of the Costa del Sol. It was also supported by Turespaña, Turismo Andaluz, ICEF, SIELE, GUARDME, SRM, EXTENDA, Instituto Cervantes, Universidad de Málaga, ICEX, Chamber of Commerce, The Picasso Museum, CEM  and Festival de Cine de Málaga. During this week, more than 500 professionals have shared views, exchanged information and debated the current situation and future trends. The week was made up of 3 separate but interrelated events:

The 8th ECELE meeting (Encuentro Internacional de Centros de Enseñanza de Español) was opened by Malaga’s Mayor, Francisco de la Torre, the President of FEDELE, Mari Carmen Timor, the President of NACEM and AEEA José María Casero, the representative of the Instituto Cervantes Isidoro Castellanos and the Director General of “Turismo y Planificación Costa del Sol”, Arturo Bernal. They all emphasised the strong points of Malaga which make it one of the best places in the world to study Spanish: its climate, its range of cultural activities, the quality of its schools, its location, gastronomy and quality of life. It’s not for nothing that, of the almost 100,000 people who come to study Spanish in Spain each year, 13,000 choose to do so in Malaga. 

Málaga Education Week 2018

Malaga Isti

The 2nd table dealt with the profile of the typical student of Spanish and the markets and their potential for expansion. The president of FEDELE (Federación de Escuelas de Español en España) María del Carmen Timor presented figures from 2016 indicating that 97,000 students Study Spanish in Spain each year, of which 13,000 do so in Malaga, the leader in Andalucia as a destination for studying Spanish. Language tourism generates more than €32 million for Malaga according to calculations by  José María Casero, president of the Association of Schools of Spanish in Andalucia. The round table was completed by Stefan Kolibar of StudentMarketing, Krister Weidenhielm of the ESL Agency, Antonio Peláez of the CIE/University of Malaga and Isabel Martín, the Spanish Tourism Attaché in Poland, who provided the surprising statistic that more than 122,000 Poles studied Spanish in Poland in 2017.   

The 3rd table looked at the current situation of Spanish in the world and its future prospects. Antonio Guevara, dean of the Tourism Faculty of the University of Malaga (UMA), highlighted the increase in the number of students who, having first studied Spanish in a language school in Malaga, then go on to study for a Degree in la UMA. Richard Bueno Hudson, Academic Director of the Instituto Cervantes detailed some of the strategies and reasons which result in Spanish reaching increasingly large areas of the planet.  Further participants included Alberto Matesanz, of SIELE and Kurt Grötsch of Chinese Friendly who produced some interesting facts about the tremendous potential of the Asian market and the importance of not delaying in exploiting it. “The future of Spanish lies in Asia” stated Grötsch.  

The 4th table looked at the concept of the Cosmopolitan Tourist with analysis by Javier Rodríguez of Turespaña, who explained that Turespaña is concentrating its marketing strategies on the pursuit of the tourist who is not only looking for a Mediterranean climate and beaches but also wants to find out about and experience the Spanish way of life, meet the local people, enjoy their culture, museums and gastronomy. He mentioned Malaga as an ideal example of a destination suited to this type of tourist and agreed that the language school tourist does fit this definition. José Lebrero of Malaga’s Picasso Musem, Esther Cruces from the Town Archives of Malaga and Iván Bravo chef of “Grupo  Premium” completed the table, the latter emphasising the importance of Spanish gastronomy around the world.  

All together this resulted in a comprehensive analysis of the position of the Spanish Language in the world and of Malaga’s role in this.  An entire week focused on Language tourism, was rounded off by the Alphe Conference, in the NH hotel in Malaga, in which 400 professional took part. In parallel, one of the most interesting aspects of the 1st Malaga Education Week was the exhibition in Calle Larios which will continue for the rest of January.     

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