English UK focusing on overcoming effects of Covid-19 group travel bans in Italy and China
English UK is working hard to lessen the effect of travel bans on English Language Teaching centres and study abroad agencies.
Group travel bans by the Chinese and Italian governments designed to halt the spread of coronavirus remain in place at a time when thousands of young students would usually come to the UK to improve their English.
In 2018, the last year for which figures are available, 128,000 Italian students and 47,000 Chinese students took courses at English UK ELT centres.
English UK, which represents over 400 accredited English Language Teaching (ELT) centres in the UK, is working to ensure that where bans are in place the industry works together as much as possible to retain goodwill and trust, postponing rather than cancelling travel.
"This is affecting our member centres, and we know it is causing serious problems for the many hard-working study travel agencies we work with in China and Italy as well as concerns in many other valued markets," said Jodie Gray, interim chief executive of English UK.
"Where actual travel bans are in place, we are encouraging our members to work carefully with agents whose bookings have been affected. We are working closely with the Department for International Trade, the British Council and IALCA, the Italian agents' association, to try and mitigate the effects on our industry.
"We are hopeful that the measures put in place in Northern Italy will contain the outbreak so that the school travel ban is lifted as planned on 16 March and educational trips restart as soon as possible, with encouragement from the Italian authorities."
Italian agents, which are having to refund schools and families for planned trips, are campaigning for help from the Government, with IALCA meeting the Ministry of Education, University and Research. The Italian education minister has indicated that action may come soon, says IALCA.
In the UK, meetings of the travel industry's emergency forum, TIER, attended by English UK, are now focusing on the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak and how the interests of the wider industry can be supported.
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