Latin America is an important sending market for English language teaching (ELT) programmes, accounting for 11% of UK student weeks; each year English UK organises a business to business fairs in this region.
This year's workshop, the eighth in Latin America, took place from 19 to 22 April at the Now Sapphire on Mexico's Caribbean coast. As our recently published market report indicates, a desire for quality education, combined with increasing prosperity and middle class consumption, means Mexico's potential for short to mid-term growth continues to be strong. However, it wasn't just agents from Mexico that attended.
For the English UK Fair, Yucatan Peninsula 2016, 30 English UK member centre representatives and a select handful of corporate member service providers, were joined by 40 educational tour operators, agents and education councillors from across the whole region. "There was an excellent mix of agents from various parts of the continent, all of whom were well-versed in current issues affecting the UK ELT sector, even those who were quite new to promoting the UK as a destination" commented Emma Buckby from International House London. The 11 countries represented included: Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay.
A key feature of the English UK overseas workshops is their exclusive focus on the UK's English language teaching sector. For around 40% of the agents present this was their first experience of an English UK event so, as Roz Rozidor, International Manager at English UK, explained: we placed a stronger than ever emphasis on showcasing the UK as a great study travel destination, where students of all abilities and all ages can improve their English at high-quality language centres. This included referencing the GREAT brand on name badges and signs, a rolling background 'media wall' of UK imagery and a seminar highlighting the diversity of UK through its attractive landscapes, towns and cities. Each presenter had just three minutes to pitch their area, ensuring as much of UK was profiled as possible.
The all-inclusive nature of these fairs, with opportunities to network socially outside of the usual formal meetings, creates more time for the delegates to get to know each other. The group discovered aspects of Mexican culture together, including Mayan history, folk dancing, piñatas, fusion cuisine and Mariachi. This fun formula helped create solid foundations for doing effective business, and it is one that delegates agree works well.
First-time attendee, Yashira Ortega-Allen from the Panamanian agency Experiencia Overseas, remarked that "I am very positive that I met the right institutions for my agency to start promoting UK". Maria MacDonald from The Liverpool School of English concurred 'I think that the fair was excellent, I met serious agents ready to do business from several different countries in South America. The fair was well organised in a beautiful venue, and the social events enabled the educators to get to know the agents in a more informal setting. I will definitely attend this Fair again in 2017'.