This month we talk to Wolfgang Graser, Director of Good Hope Studies. Based in South Africa, this language school offers a full range of English language courses, as well as work programmes, and a portfolio of carefully selected volunteer programmes. Accommodation options include homestay, a student residence, a student house and campus accommodation.
Q. Good Hope Studies joined IALC in 1999. What do you like about being part of the Association?
IALC has provided us with many opportunities especially when it comes to quality assurance, marketing and access to IALC’s extensive agency network.
Q. How is 2014 going for your school, and how does it compare to last year?
2013 was our best year ever. This year is also a good year, with growth in many of our business areas. Our volunteer programmes stand out as an area of particular growth.
This year we’re also facing some challenges. Hard as it may be to believe, Ebola is affecting our bookings, particularly from Latin America. Yet South Africa is 5500 kilometres away from the Ebola outbreak – as far away, in fact, as Latin America and Europe are!
In addition to this, South Africa has changed its immigration laws, which has caused confusion among clients and agents. The changes have no impact at all on anyone coming for less than 3 months. However, they do affect youth travellers coming for more than 3 months. Together with the South African authorities, we’re busy working on a solution and we expect this issue to be resolved by late March.
Q. What developments do you expect in South Africa in 2015? How will they impact the language travel industry?
As mentioned above, we expect to be able to give our agents security around the visa issues, which will help to further grow our destination.
We’ll be welcoming the WYSTC to Cape Town in September. This is the biggest Youth Travel Conference around the globe, and we’re pleased to be able to organise a FAM trip around this event, to showcase our language-, volunteer- and internship programmes. In addition we’ll be celebrating our 20th birthday during the week of the WYSTC. We’re very excited about 2015 and are sure that it will be a great year for youth travel to South Africa.
Q. What's new this year?
This year we’ve become a proud member of EAQUALS. It’s been another milestone in our history of providing high quality language education, as well as quality volunteer & work programmes.
In August we welcomed our new General Manager, Phillip McIntyre. He’s taken the helm from Craig Leith, who has been with us for eight years. Phillip has had an excellent start and he’s already proven to be a great leader, who is well liked by staff, clients and agents.
In September we opened an extension to our Cape Town City Centre Campus. We’ve almost doubled in size at this location and we’re really proud to now have a beautiful and technically upgraded campus with 16 classrooms.
Q. Where do the majority of your students come from?
78% of our clients come from Brazil, Switzerland, Angola, Germany, Colombia, the Netherlands, Korea, Italy, and Argentina. In total we host around 50 different nationalities at the school each year.
Q. What are your most popular student activities?
We’ve got a broad variety of activities, but the most popular are still the full day trips to the Cape of Good Hope and to the Winelands area just outside of Cape Town. Trips up Table Mountain and to concerts at the Botanical Gardens are also popular, and for the more adventurous there are also adventure activities like shark diving and scuba diving.
Q. What makes Good Hope Studies special for students learning English?
Our clients can choose between two completely different environments to study in. They either opt for our City Centre Campus or for our Newlands campus, which has a garden and swimming pool as well as on-campus accommodation.
Regardless of the location clients choose, we offer them high quality English studies and a broad range of accommodation options at a reasonable prices. I would even go further and say that what our clients get is a cultural experience – an experience which many of them describe as the experience of their lives.
Q. How did you get started in study travel?
Together with Alexander Kratochwil I founded Good Hope Studies in 1995. The company has been developing ever since. Internship programmes were introduced in 1997, and in 2009 we took the logical next step, and launched our volunteer programmes.
Q. Languages you speak or would like to speak?
I speak German and English and have been wanting to learn Spanish for many years now. However, as many of you will know, time is always an issue.
Q. Favourite travel destination?
Q. Favourite pastime?
Q. Favourite meal?
Any pasta dish
Q. Dream dinner guest(s)?
Wolfgang Graser, Director of South African school Good Hope Studies