As part of the Impact of Covid-19 Research 2021 paper Belta surveyed some 512 agents and 1,034 students across Latin America. They also got responses from 334 agents and 374 students across Brazil. Participants completed an online questionnaire between August and September 2021.
“There are issues concerning accommodation and bookings, which is something that we have pointed out during this survey”
Researchers found that there were significant numbers of students and agents who were uncertain as to whether Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US would be able to offer competitively priced accommodation in the near future.
Belta’s president Alexandre Argenta, told The PIE News that shortages of appropriate accommodation could potentially be “damaging” for all involved.
“There are issues concerning accommodation and bookings, which is something that we have pointed out during this survey,” Belta president Alexandre Argenta, told The PIE News.
“The accommodation is very important here for the Brazilian market, and there are countries where the borders are open, the schools are ready to receive, our students’ visas are ready, the immigration is OK, but there just isn’t enough accommodation for everybody who wants to travel.
“So people that would maybe like to depart from Brazil in a month, they’re going to have to wait for maybe an extra two or three months because there is just a lack of accommodation out there.”
The research showed that the price of accommodation was a significant influencing factor for Brazilian agents and students in the decision to invest in an international education program.
Some 84.3% of agents and 89.1% of students said it was an influencing factor. For students, accommodation prices were the most influencing factor for their decision making.
Both Brazilian students and agents showed reluctance to accept situations where students were in shared accommodation, be that in homestays, hostels or hotels.
Argenta told The PIE that confusion around the booking of accommodation also posed a problem for students.
“There are also some issues here and there where students leave Brazil and they are supposed to start accommodation in a certain place, let’s say tomorrow, then they get there and the accommodation is booked out.
“They may have to find emergency accommodation and spend the night in a different place… Or sometimes there have been some last minute changes where everything had been planned for months but then one or two days before departure there is a change and the accommodation is not available and the student has to go to a different place,” Argenta said.
“It’s hard for someone who has been planning for so long and also for the agents to organise this… It’s important we deal with this kind of issue, and I’ve been calling for everybody to pay extra attention as it could be damaging for everybody,” he added.
“We as agents maybe, we are more realistic than the students because we know that even opening borders, it doesn’t mean that everybody can just start travelling”
Other findings from the research were that agents were more negative about the impact of Covid-19 than students.
Researchers explored the impact of Covid-19 on students’ plans to carry out international education programs. Some 82% said they are still interested in taking part in a program soon.
When asked about the impact of Covid-19 on the sale of products and services some 90.2% of agents responded negatively.
“There are a few points that stand out in the survey, like why would agents be maybe a bit more negative than students with the recovery from the pandemic?” Argenta said.
“I believe this is just because it has been a big hustle for us as agents to work during this past one or two years with the pandemic.”
Argenta explained that agents have been overwhelmed with the extra amount of work, deferrals, cancellations and re-bookings caused by the pandemic.
“So that’s why, maybe there is a negative sense. And at the same time, we as agents maybe, we are more realistic than the students because we know that even opening borders, it doesn’t mean that everybody can just start travelling because there are issues concerning visa processing time,” he added.